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Truer Words Were Never Spoken

December 30, 2008

Men can do things that we will never be able to do without first brokering some kind of peace with the fear.

Tatiana The Anonymous Model wrote this at Jezebel, discussing Latoya Peterson’s essay “The Not Rape Epidemic” in Yes Means Yes. She talks about what Latoya wrote, and then discusses her own experiences in the modeling industry. It is a powerful read.

I pulled that quote out because this is the single sentence that, if men who don’t get it understood and internalized what it means, would change the most minds. I could be wrong, but that’s what I think.

This is the second post at Jezebel about Latoya’s powerful, personal essay. The other is Meghan’s, here.

h/t reader S.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Randomizer permalink
    January 24, 2009 9:15 am

    As a man, this is fascinating (in a train-wreck-can’t-look-away) manner and sad, but enlightening.

    For reasons of my own, I have been working hard to understand and redefine my perception of women’s sexuality after years in a relationship poisoned by misapprehensions of the very nature of my (now ex-) wife’s sexuality. And yes, like most men, I stand accused of not-raping women I have known because of acculturation to a paradigm of sex-seeking where “no means no” instead of “yes means yes.”

    The eponymous blogger at Figleaf’s Real Adult Sex wrote here about the “perception that men are always “ready” for sex and women are always less sure.”

    What I take away from that, and this article too, has to do with how the lived experience of men and women (steeped in a toxic cultural stew of dehumanizing drek) creates a huge chasm of misunderstanding of the very nature and humanity of the “other half” of the human experience, both for men and for women.

    The pervasive image of male sexuality as a constant and compelling drive that is elemental for every man while women’s sexuality has to be coaxed out of hiding is supported by the way society has constructed the mating game.

    As Figleaf explains, most men (outside of the context of a relationship) seldom experience initiation by women. Conversely, women are approached by men when the men are experiencing libidinous drives (or “faking” it having internalized predatory-sexuality gender typing). Men who are not feeling the want and need don’t approach women and typically men are not approached by women and so have little experience of the uninvited expression of want and need. The more or less subtle body language that women are taught to use to signal their interest is often lost on men.

    The whole paradigm of not-rape takes place against this normative backdrop of men wanting and women acceding which is so fundamentally counter to the common human experience of desire. If only we can get to a place where our daughters are not slut-shamed into not initiating and our sons are not masculinity-policed into acting like Viking marauders….

    Then maybe in light of a truer appreciation of our common heritage of sexual desire, we can get to a place where “yes means yes” is the operative paradigm instead of the onus being on women to constantly fight to have their “no” be as meaningful and powerful as it ought to be.

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