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Antioch, We Hardly Knew Ye

December 31, 2008

And by Antioch, I mean the much-mocked Antioch College Sexual Offense Prevention Policy. It factors heavily in one of the essays in Yes Means Yes, Rachel Kramer Bussel’s “Beyond Yes or No: Consent as Sexual Process.” Also, while ze never mentions it, is Hazel/Cedar Troost’s essay “Reclaiming Touch: Rape Culture, Explicit Verbal Consent, and Body Sovereignty”, it sat behind the page, on my reading, as a huge unmentioned subtext. (I don’t know the author, so I don’t know if that was a deliberate tactic.) I also saw it lurking in the subtext in parts of Lee Jacobs-Riggs’s “A Love Letter form an Anti-Rape Activist to Her Feminist Sex Toy Store”. (Lee is an active blogger here; I’m sure she’ll tell me if I’m seeing things) More than that, the Antioch Code seemed to sit behind all of the thinking about consent as affirmative, rather than the absence of no.

(Indulge an analogy: I love Celtic punk — Flogging Molly, The Tossers, The Real McKenzies in all their sloshed glory … and all Celtic punk, on my account, leads back to a few antecedents, most notably The Pogues. You can’t discuss Celtic punk in any depth without acknowledging the foundational contribution of the Pogues. So, too, the Antioch SOPP is a milestone in the recognition of consent as affirmative, rather than the absence of no — the point where it broke the surface of the culture — the place of which cannot be ignored in discussing the history of this thinking.)

Lots of people talk about it and few have read it. Since Antioch closed the doors of its undergraduate campus and folded its website, I can’t find the full text, but I found a bullet summary:

Consent:

Consent is defined as the act of willingly and verbally agreeing to engage in specific sexual conduct. The following are clarifying points:

Consent is required each and every time there is sexual activity.

All parties must have a clear and accurate understanding of the sexual activity.

The person(s) who initiate(s) the sexual activity is responsible for asking for consent.

The person(s) who are asked are responsible for verbally responding.

Each new level of sexual activity requires consent.

Use of agreed upon forms of communication such as gestures or safe words is acceptable, but must be discussed and verbally agreed to by all parties before sexual activity occurs.

Consent is required regardless of the parties’ relationship, prior sexual history, or current activity (e.g. grinding on the dance floor is not consent for further sexual activity).

At any and all times when consent is withdrawn or not verbally agreed to, the sexual activity must stop immediately.

Silence is not consent.

Body movements and non-verbal responses such as moans are not consent.

A person can not give consent while sleeping.

All parties must have unimpaired judgement (examples that may cause impairment include but are not limited to alcohol, drugs, mental health conditions, physical health conditions).

All parties must use safer sex practices.

All parties must disclose personal risk factors and any known STIs.

Individuals are responsible for maintaining awareness of their sexual health.

These requirements for consent do not restrict with whom the sexual activity may occur, the type of sexual activity that occurs, the props/toys/tools that are used, the number of persons involved, the gender(s) or gender expressions of persons involved.

I got this from FIRE’s website, but I’m not linking them.

I was an undergrad when this was adopted, though not at Antioch. It didn’t seem silly to me at the time, though the media mocked it mercilessly.

Here’s what the critics don’t understand — or do understand well enough to try to dismember it: the policy doesn’t function by requiring communication. The policy functions by assigning risk.

The Antioch SOPP makes clear who bears the risk: the intiator. That’s a big change, and one many men are profoundly uncomfortable with.

In law most places, and in Western culture generally, consent is the absence of “no.” If someone doesn’t say “no” to some sexual contact, it is presumed not unwanted, which equals wanted. As we all know, this is a huge problem for many reasons, not least this: We raise women to be nice, please others and put their needs last; we raise men to be entitled douchenozzles who don’t take no for an answer; and then we put the burden on women to be gatekeepers. It’s a recipe for disaster — but only for the women. This state of affairs puts all the burden on women. They face the vast majority of consequences for saying yes, and for saying no.

The Antioch SOPP shifts the burden. In a culture where everyone is assumed to be het, and where men and women assume that men will initiate sexual contact and most phases thereof, if men continue to initiate they bear the risk of a misunderstanding about consent. You see, if all parties are on board, nobody has to say anything verbal. But in the world we know, if a woman is not enthusiastic about her participation, then that’s her problem. Under the Antioch SOPP, that’s his problem. He can assume … but he better be sure. Because if he’s wrong, he’s committed sexual assault.

OH NOES!! But what can he ever do to be sure?! Well … he can … ask. For explicit consent. Or, as the policy explicitly allows, arrange a safeword or gesture in advance. Or negotiate specific activities ahead of time.

In fact, this is not hard. BDSMers do these things as a matter of course. Really. All the time. There’s nothing I ever, ever wanted to do that I can’t do under the strict letter of the Antioch SOPP.

Or, if some guy is too embarrassed to communicate straightforwardly about sex with a sex partner or too paranoid to trust, he can simply … not be the initiator. If his desired partner is that into it, after all, can’t he just let her do the touching and the licking and the worrying about whether he consents? (But his gender map about men being the subject and women being the object may be so ingrained that he simply can’t or won’t be sexual with a subject. Said guy is, in fact, the problem.)

In fact, the Antioch SOPP isn’t radical. It only looks radical to people who are very invested in the assumption that men can assume consent until someone stops them. I’ll show you what radical looks like. Recently, Kate at This Is Rape linked us, and browsing her blog I ran across a year-old post (that I read and liked the first time around) by the inimitable Twisty Faster, founder of I Blame The Patriarchy, a smart thinker and a really first-rate prose stylist.* She made the following proposal:**

Well, what if lack of consent were the default? What if all prospective objects of dudely predation — by whom I mean all women — are a priori considered to have said “no”? What if women, in other words, were seen by the courts to abide in a persistent legal condition of keep-the-fuck-off-me?

A straight girl could still have as much sex as she wants with men, if for some reason she thinks it’s a good idea (naturally I would most vigorously urge self-identified heterosexual women to contemplate the horrific personal and political implications of submitting to male domination in this way. But that’s another post). All she’d have to do is not call the cops. No harm no foul.

But if, at any time during the course of the proceedings, up to and including the storied infinitesimal microsecond preceding the sacred spilling of dudely seed, the woman elects to biff off to the nearest taco stand; and if her egress from the sweaty tableau is in any way impeded by the pronger (such an impediment would include everything from “traditional” brute force, to that insistently whispered declamation “just a couple more minutes, I’m almost there” the dread seriousness of which the fervid oaf dramatizes by that ever-so-slight tightening of his grip on her wrist); or if, in three hours or three days or, perhaps in the case of childhood abuse, in 13 years it begins to dawn on her that she has been badly used by an opportunistic predator, she has simply to make a call.

Presto! The dude is already a rapist, because, legally, consent never existed.

[The kind reader will intellectively supply the Law & Order ‘chung-chung!’ audio here]

This contingency would have the immediate and pleasant result that the engorged dude would be forced to ruminate a bit, prior to gettin’ busy, on the subject of his own integrity. Should he examine the scheme from all sides and ultimately determine that his motives perhaps emanate from baser impulses to dominate or whip off a piece or put a notch on his bedpost or satisfy some other subhuman urge, he would, would he not — knowing that the woman could drop a dime on him at any time should his deportment should fail to live up to her standards of civility — decline the opportunity to become a rapist and go to jail?

I grasp that, technically, the plan criminalizes all male participants in heterosexual sex.

Well, what of it? The set-up now, with the emphasis — in a misogynist world with a misogynist judiciary — on whether or not women “give” consent, is that female participants are all infinitely rapeable, because all some perv has to do is say, “she said yes.”

(Emphasis supplied). To speak lawyer-speak, the Antioch SOPP and Twisty’s proposal differ in that the SOPP is a rebuttable presumption — the presumption of nonconsent, rebuttable only by express consent arranged prior or confirmed at the time; while Twisty’s is a conclusive presumption. Would Twisty’s proposal end het sex? In fact, as she recognizes, it would not (whinging of MRAs to the contrary). Rather, it simply would require something that, right now, women need to extend to have het sex and men really don’t: a huge amount of trust in a partner’s respect and goodwill.

I’ll say that again, because I like to repeat myself: Right now, in het sex, women need to, and men don’t need to, extend to their partners a huge amount of trust in their partners’ goodwill. If having it the other way around would be horrifying, then we should be horrified by the present state of affairs. Pace the conservatives, just because it’s been this way too long doesn’t mean it’s remotely right, or even functional.

The burden to be sure of consent; to know, rather than assume, that one’s partner is an enthusiastic participant. Neither silly nor radical. Quite sensible, in fact. Antioch is gone, but the SOPP that was ahead of its time lives on, like Obi Wan in death, more powerful now than ever.

*Fair warning: the IBTP comment section has a history of vitriolic transphobia and a core of vocal and determined opponents of BDSM in all its forms and sex work in all its forms, and a lot of other positions that would be hurtful to some readers here. Readers who wish to avoid contact with those views are going to want to avoid the comment threads at IBTP.

**I don’t think Twisty is the first person to propose a conclusive presumption of nonconsent in feminist literature, and I don’t understand her to claim she is. But Twisty’s formulation is (a) the one I remember reading; (b) the one I can find; and (c) Twisty’s writing, which is just so … inimitable.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. Cheshire permalink
    January 1, 2009 6:22 am

    This is a really good essay. I believe hazel/ceder goes by third gender pronouns zie/hir by the way

  2. January 1, 2009 12:11 pm

    Cheshire, I have corrected the malapronoun. Thanks.

  3. Iremo permalink
    January 8, 2009 3:41 pm

    If you really do agree with the quoted paragraphs from Twisty as much as you seem to, then isn’t it really time to change the name of this blog? The entire quotation there is, after all, an argument against the first three words of the blog title.

  4. January 8, 2009 5:42 pm

    Iremo, I think you’ve missed my point. Stripped of the inflammatory verbiage, Twisty’s paragraph is a burden-shift. So is Antioch’s. One is qualified, the other absolute. Under either, however, if there’s a real meeting of the minds regarding consent, there’s no one to complain.

  5. Iremo permalink
    January 8, 2009 6:11 pm

    Are you sure you’re not reading what you want to read so you can agree with it instead of what she actually wrote? What she’s saying, in quite clear language, is there should be, in the eyes of the law, no ability of a woman to consent to sex, though women foolish enough to want to do so are free to not reveal the fact that they had sex with a man. And even if there’s a “real meeting of the minds regarding consent” at the time, she even says, quite clearly, that the woman is free and even encouraged to consider herself retroactively raped later. I do indeed understand what she’s getting at in terms of a “burden shift,” and accept the euphemism “inflammatory verbiage” for “hateful invective” , just thought it was ironic that the concept would be so enthusiastically praised on a website entitled “yes means yes.”

  6. January 8, 2009 6:37 pm

    Well, there is indeed a certain linguistic irony. But look how I situated the quote: after I argued that Antioch (which recognized explicit consent, and only explicit consent), I said, “I’ll show you what radical looks like.” But I think it’s interesting as a thought experiment. Now, many women have to rely on the goodwill of male partners. If women could simply hold all male sex partners absolutely liable for rape any time including after the fact, it would be men who then had to trust and worry. That would be a very different world.

    I put Antioch out there as a serious policy idea; I put Twisty’s unrebuttable presumption out there as a serious thought experiment.

  7. perrybc permalink
    January 9, 2009 11:49 am

    Another little known, but extremely interesting tidbit about the Antioch’s policy…a survey was conducted about 5 years after the introduction of the SOPP. Much to the chagrin of the smug critics who desired its failure, the SOPP was a hit. The survey found that students loved what the policy did for their sex lives. Female students indicated that they loved it because it gave them the option of saying yes without giving up their right to be safe, and men loved it because they no longer felt such intense pressure to remain in the sexual “driver’s seat” encouraged by our negative sexual status quo, and enforced by traditional gender roles.

    Obviously Antioch was a unique school – it has roots to the Quakers, operated on a flattened hierarchy, and attracted a student population quite different from most other colleges (e.g., progressives, non-conformers, etc.). I don’t know if the SOPP would be as well-received in a different campus environment with a different student population. Still, many naysayers claimed Antioch’s SOPP was unworkable or laughable or that it went against “human nature”. Media outlets (incl. SNL) misinterpreted and exaggerated the intent and effect of the SOPP to make it seem ludicrous. I wish they’d come around 5 years later and let the students have the last word.

  8. John permalink
    January 9, 2009 12:22 pm

    Thomas,

    “If having it the other way around would be horrifying, then we should be horrified by the present state of affairs.”

    I don’t agree with your assumptions about the power disparity in the no-means-no-setup, but this is, logically, a compelling argument, just as this

    “The burden to be sure of consent; to know, rather than assume, that one’s partner is an enthusiastic participant. Neither silly nor radical.”

    is a theoretically sound demand.

    I think most people who are sexually active would love to be certain at all times of enthusiastic consent and not just assume enthusiastic consent. The problem with this is, though, that even verbal consent doesn’t give you that certainty as no one can ever be certain that the other person’s ability to consent in whatever way is indeed not impaired. And there is no standard for “being unimpaired” either. In fact, every signature, every verbal consent is always construed to mean consent, just like non-verbal consent is construed to mean consent. There is no way to be certain, ever.

    Consent, enthusiastic consent, if I may say so, is a laudable and practically necessary, but theoretically unsound concept. There is no way to establish a true meeting of minds, and, in fact, the reason for this is in the theoretical toolset of radical feminism: standpoint epistemology, or in other words – we’re all closed systems and can never be certain in an epistemological way that the other person is talking about the same thing we have in mind.

    As sex is almost by definition an activity including two or more minds, it will logically always include two or more different, but shared, realities. Consent is a mental, and legal, construct, that may at best approximated.

    This may be regrettable, but it’s just a fact of life.

    Moreover, and this is possibly equally regrettable, it’s just not a real world solution, as this video may indicate (short film) –

    http://www.glumbert.com/media/consent

    Personally, I would love the “explicit” thing if it would be also taught that it’s OK to be sexually frank. Lack of explicity in sexual contexts is usually a result of uncertainy, fear of rejection and the attempt to keep an exit option on both parts.

    OK, let’s play: Say she’s asking me whether I would like to kiss her. Can I take that as an explicit offer? Is that consent in her question? Do I have to say “yes” to her question, and does she have to “yes” to me asking “would you like to kiss me, too?” after my confirmation? Moreover, is the answer to “would you like to kiss me” explicit consent to kissing? Or is it merely the expression of a desire that could be offset by another internal motivation. So if I said “yes” to her question whether “I would like to kiss her” knowing that I would not do it because my girlfriend is standing next door would my explicit statement about my desire without intent to act on it be consent? How would she know?

    Moreover, sexuality is playful – well, it should be. At it’s best it’s respectful and it leaves enough room for everyone to say “no or go on” at every point. But CERTAINTY is never possible. Say I said yes to kissing – what does that include? Lips? Tongue? Biting of lips? Eskimo kisses? Kissing of body parts that aren’t my mouth? Wouldn’t we have to define kissing before we can even agree on what we believe we agree on only to realize that there are contingencies we cannot come up with beforehand and then probably feel the need to say “everything BUT xyz”, which, in essence, is a logical return to no-means-no as XYZ is just another list of contingencies. Say I said kissing of the face but forgot to mention I don’t like my ears kissed. Then she does that. Then I have to withdraw my consent to this which is exactly what we had before – NO MEANS NO

    That’s the problem. There’s no way to get around this. To argue with a no means no standard of human interaction is problematic in general. To do so in this specific context can be socially helpful to create a certain awareness, but it should always be done with the knowledge that “yes means yes” is either a logical impossibility or a reformulation of “no means no”.

  9. January 9, 2009 1:34 pm

    First, John, the video you linked is just another attempt to lampoon something that, as Brad Perry noted above, proved perfectly workable in practice. It’s not even good satire. A lawyer materializes in the middle of the room.

    Second, if we can’t work with human standards about explicitness and meeting of the minds, we can’t communicate at all. We have to infer that people mean what they say when we conclude a treaty or sign a contract. The inability to read minds is common to all human experience, not unique to issues of sexual consent.

    Third, my entire point was that it is not actually necessary to ask at every stage – rather, one who does not ask assumes the risk. If you’re sure, go ahead. But then you’re assuming the risk. If you don’t want to assume the risk or you’re not sure, ask. Are you so wedded to the idea of man as initiator that you’re uncomfortable with that? With your mouth-but-not-cheeks handwringing, you sound like you’re looking to create a standard that you accept no responsibility for ensuring accurate understanding between you and your sex partner, which is just like trying to get a consent form in the silly video you linked. I’m not okay with you getting out of responsibility.

    Fourth, this notion that sexual frankness is a mood-killer is nonsense. If you sit with a sex partner and talk about things you’d like to do with each other and it kills the mood, yer doin it rong. Those of us who do BDSM cannot do what we do without explicit communication about likes and limits, and we still get off just fine.

    Fifth, if we’re assigning the burden of failed communication, I’d rather a misunderstanding result in folks not getting laid, not in women being sexually penetrated when they don’t want to. Your view is, what, the reverse?

    To get down to brass tacks, you’re just wrong. I think just about everything you said is the same rehashed nonsense I’ve heard before.

  10. John permalink
    January 9, 2009 3:38 pm

    Thomas,

    first off, thanks for your reply. This is an interesting, important, and charged subject – and it’s difficult to discuss between over the web between two people who have never met each other and no idea about each other’s subtexts. I’m getting the feeling (from your agressive tone) you have the impression that I’m arguing in bad faith. I don’t.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You may not find the short film funny, I did. I read the comment after you mentioned it. Interesting – I would really like to know more about if and how such a policy changed the sexual dynamics between men and women positively. I remain sceptical, but I am open minded at the same time.

    “The inability to read minds is common to all human experience, not unique to issues of sexual consent.”

    Very true – I thought that’s I explained. “Consent” is always an assumption, never a fact. There’s no contract for all contingencies in any transaction/interaction as we humans “suffer” from bounded rationality and imperfect information.

    “Second, if we can’t work with human standards about explicitness and meeting of the minds, we can’t communicate at all.”

    Which is one of the main objections to using standpoint epistemology for a category like gender (so far it hasn’t stopped most feminists from doing that).

    “We have to infer that people mean what they say when we conclude a treaty or sign a contract.”

    For many practical purposes that may be so. Although I can’t see any reason why this observation should be limited to “saying.” Non-verbal communication or written communication could be just as adequate as a standard. A lot treaties are concludent (concluded without any explicit verbalisation). My point was to demonstrate that the term consent as an ideal type, as defined by you, is logically impossible given the constraints of bounded human rationality. Sad, but true.

    “Third, my entire point was that it is not actually necessary to ask at every stage – rather, one who does not ask assumes the risk. If you’re sure, go ahead. But then you’re assuming the risk. If you don’t want to assume the risk or you’re not sure, ask. Are you so wedded to the idea of man as initiator that you’re uncomfortable with that?”

    Wow. Careful with the assumptions, please. No, actually, I am not so “wedded to the man as initiator”. In fact, I have in my life never even initiated a kiss precisely because I wasn’t certain (sounds improbable, but it’s true), because I did not want to assume any risk of even feeling like I took something from her. I wanted a certainty that is logically impossible and I haven’t been able to overcome this fear yet. As a consequence I had to become very “good with women”, because I needed to get them so excited about me that they would do the physical escalation I wasn’t able to do… in a way, I’ve assumed the steregotypical female role in mating.

    Whenever I have been kissed by a women there was no way she could have been certain. She assumed a risk because it felt right to HER at the point, not because she was certain. One of the women actually apologized later for feeling the need to kiss me at that point.

    So you’re talking about “assuming risk” and “ensuring appropriate understanding” and “accepting responsibility”.

    I think those are better aproaches to the problem at hand than “explicit consent”. What is this “risk” you’re talking about? If consent is always a theoretical construct that can only be approximated, there is always a risk of erring. The question is – what are the consequence of erring to which degree on which level of escalation? You’re not particularly vocal about that.

    You’re right that I am currently unwilling to bear even the slightest amound of risk of erring in any sexual context (and I include in that term every kind of physical escalation beyond shaking hands). But I suppose you will agree that that’s not a particularly healthy state either.

    “With your mouth-but-not-cheeks handwringing, you sound like you’re looking to create a standard that you accept no responsibility for ensuring accurate understanding between you and your sex partner, which is just like trying to get a consent form in the silly video you linked. I’m not okay with you getting out of responsibility.”

    See, I think that’s why I suppose there is so much misunderstanding in this context. You’re thinking I’m dishonest and I’m pulling a random example out of the air that makes no sense to you because you cannot see that I (and a lot of other people) may actually be afraid of erring at all, while you would probably willingly accept the risk of erring about a kiss when you FEEL it is the right moment. I’m willing to take the risk of a rejected handshake, not of a rejected kiss (or more).

    That said, I wonder how your call for “responsibility” works with your own idea of a performance model of sexuality. I think, at least in the way you use it here, it is very much premised upon the commodity model and the male as initiator concept. Here you seem a little caught by your own preconceptions

    “Fourth, this notion that sexual frankness is a mood-killer is nonsense.”

    Please, read again what I wrote. You’re inferring things I did not say. I said that I would LOVE to be frank about these things if that were a way most people, men and women, could deal with. I did not say frankness is a mood killer. I said that very few people are and probably can be explicit, because being (as) explicit (as possible given the epistemological problems discussed above) leaves much less room to deal with possible rejection and actually means to be certain in a way that they would rather not express. People like wiggle room, in my experience. And that’s another problem with ideal type “consent”. Not everyone even knows what they actually want – this is a realization from marketing, btw.

    “Fifth, if we’re assigning the burden of failed communication, I’d rather a misunderstanding result in folks not getting laid, not in women being sexually penetrated when they don’t want to. Your view is, what, the reverse?”

    Wow. And I never even talked about people gettin laid, did I? Funny thing, these assumptions, aren’t they. I completely agree with you here, and I think it’s a little insulting that you thought I would not based on my comment above. If anything that’s another example of failed communication.

    “To get down to brass tacks, you’re just wrong. I think just about everything you said is the same rehashed nonsense I’ve heard before.”

    Well, to be honest, I think you’re a bit unfairly condescending and smug which is never a good thing for someone trying to convince others.
    But as this is a problem I have encountered in other areas, and this is the first time we write to each other, I’ll just let it go.

  11. January 9, 2009 5:28 pm

    John, I was harsh because your arguments sounded like a version of so much of what MRAs and other antifeminists say about explicit consent, and I think those folks need to be chased off with a stick.

    I now understand your position better.

    But you say above “I did not want to assume any risk of even feeling like I took something from her. I wanted a certainty that is logically impossible and I haven’t been able to overcome this fear yet.”

    In my post, I certainly put this out there as an option. For those rare individuals so inflamed by the gulf between self and other that they are paralyzed by it, there is hope. They can wait for their partners to initiate. You seem to say that’s worked for you.

    You say you agree with me about how to weight the various harms: the foregoing sexual activity is preferable to going ahead. I’m not sure, then, what we disagree about. While perfect knowledge may be an impossibility, certainly you would agree that a standard requiring explicit communication will, on the whole, produce less misunderstanding? In fact, it provides redundancy. The initiator has an obligation to ask if ze is exceeding zir partner’s desires; and even if the initiator fails of this obligation in whole or in part, the partner can still communicate lack of consent.

    Let’s forget metaphysical certainty and talk about risk reduction and allocation.

  12. John permalink
    January 9, 2009 9:48 pm

    Thomas,

    “While perfect knowledge may be an impossibility, certainly you would agree that a standard requiring explicit communication will, on the whole, produce less misunderstanding?”

    Sure. Although I still believe that most people, and that very much includes women, prefer ambiguity toe explicity in these matters.

    “You say you agree with me about how to weight the various harms: the foregoing sexual activity is preferable to going ahead. “

    Well, as a rule, and certainly with respect to the specific sexual activity you originally referred to – “I’d rather a misunderstanding result in folks not getting laid, not in women being sexually penetrated when they don’t want to.” – of course. But I have a rather broad definition of “sexual activity”, so when it comes to, say flirting, which I would consider a rather “low level” sexual activity, then I don’t think that the foregoing of sexual activity is naturally preferable to going ahead. Sexual expression is a part of every human being, and freedom to express oneself always has an effet on others, sexual or not. How far does your freedom speech go when there’s a chance you’re hurting other people’s feelings by exercising your rights? This is the same thing, and you put this well by saying –

    “Let’s forget metaphysical certainty and talk about risk reduction and allocation.”

    Exactly. But nobody ever does that. See, I told you about my problem to initiate everything beyond possibly taking her hand. But even that – how do you know whether she would like you to take her hand if you don’t try it? Have *you* ever asked a girl/woman you liked (assuming you do like women sexually) whether she would *like* you to take her hand when you met her? Would you say that this would be an instance where it would not be preferable to forego sexual activity in favour of risk avoidance because everyone can easily bear the risk of having their hand taken and withdraw it in case they’re not interested. It’s not a big thing. Or is it? Where would you draw the line?

    “For those rare individuals so inflamed by the gulf between self and other that they are paralyzed by it, there is hope. They can wait for their partners to initiate. You seem to say that’s worked for you.”

    That’s not the point, is it? What you’re saying is that common sense is basically sufficient to solve this. What you’re saying is that “risk taking” and thus ignoring the very standard you defined to a certain degree is the a consequence of common sense and average people skills. That doesn’t really make much sense to me.

    But I think your last sentence is important – let’s forget metaphysical certainty and talk about risk reduction and allocation. Don’t continously talk about sexual violence without realizing that this discourse is keeping not just a few men – and possibly women – from attempting to even take a woman’s hand or kiss a woman they’re dating. If yes is supposed to really mean yes and differentiate sex from sexual violence there should really be some kind of language to talk about male sexuality and male experiences – and male sexual desires – outside of the framework of rape, consent, and sexual violence.

    Imagine what could have been when I hadn’t been indoctrinated as a teenager with “never pressure a girl” regardless of my own desire but instead learned how to actually express my desire for her in a respectful and loving way? I may have developed the willingness to take common sense risks, like you apparently have. I’m just saying – this discourse creates collateral damage that could easily be avoided if those usually discussing these things wouldn’t naturally react like you did when you read my first comment.

    This isn’t teamsport, didn’t you say that? I fully agree. I just wished that the practice of the discourse would be actually guided by such a laudable principle.

    That was long – hope it makes sense.

  13. June 30, 2010 9:40 am

    Hey Thomas, my ever-expanding manliness post comments recently referred to this post and the Antioch policy, and a commenter asked if I knew of any available accounts or examples of how the policy worked from people who were at Antioch when it was in force. I don’t, so I’m wondering if you do.

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