Male sexual assertiveness and female desire (or lack thereof)

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Post by Guest on Wed Nov 12, 2014 7:35 pm

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:ElizaJane,


Seconded! A guy who just says, "Yeah, liking you, but don't want to push," or "Man, I really want to kiss you, but I don't know how you'll respond"? Turn-on.

Not my experience. In my experience, it seems more like this - "if you cannot clearly read if I want to kiss you, does that tell me something about your inability to read women? Probably".

Okay, but I'm saying (and kleenstar was saying in the post I quoted) that in our experience, this is really effective on us. So it's not universally doomed to failure. Obviously, women vary.

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Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Wed Nov 12, 2014 7:38 pm

Esselle28,


So, I'd agree that this is an issue that goes beyond your personal involvement in it, though it sounds like your particular troubles here will amplify the effects of the issue on your relationships in a way most people won't experience.

Yes, the extent to which I find the narrative disabling is certainly not particularly common, but I'd say that it is a common effect, though usually to a lesser degree.

What do we do about it?

I think honestly talking about it is helpful, but rarely happens, because, as you say, male initiation is taken for granted. Talking about this is admitting weakness again. The whole discourse is structured against an honest discussion.

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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Wed Nov 12, 2014 7:51 pm

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:Gentleman Johnny,

If learning to escelate and de-escalate gracefully when it doesn't work is off the table for you,

if I were to reconnect my mental wires in a way that would allow me to not think of myself as a horrible person if I attempted to escalate and it wouldn't work, I'd probbaly be much more willing to take that risk. And yes, it's something I'm really working on, it's just not that easy given the way the discourse is structured.

Well, I'm going to go out on a bit of a limb here, then. Screw the discourse. Maximizing your (ethical) options is almost always a good thing. Maybe its not something you want to do all the time or especially aggressively but its better to be able to consider it if things are going well. Getting over issues is always a good thing.

Now to your specific situation, there are a lot of steps between spooning and sex. Something as simple as resting your hand on her bicep and gauging the reaction can be "initiating" in this context. If she doesn't respond, cool. If she does, you've got the signal to push one more small step from there. At any given point, you're only pushing a little farther, so its easier to back away from when you get no positive reaction instead of waiting for an explicitly negative one.

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Post by Mel on Wed Nov 12, 2014 7:54 pm

I just want to clarify, because I don't think I was clear in my last post: I do think you have a totally legitimate concern, Sam, and it's something I think you're right to be looking for guidance on and that it's great if people have suggestions for how to work around it. The only thing I disagree with is your framing it as primarily an issue of rejecting male weakness. If you had simply started a topic saying something like, "I have a lot of trouble initiating, and this is making it hard for me to find romantic partners, and I suspect the narrative that men are supposed to initiate plays into that," I would not take issue with any of that, and, again, I think it's a useful discussion to have.

I kind of wonder if having the honest discussion you're looking for would be better served by parsing these two elements out--a discussion about how a guy can deal with feeling uncomfortable ever initiating given the standard societal romantic/sexual expectations, and a different discussion about to what extent men are able to show weakness and how that can be made more acceptable, using examples that are less extreme and so more representative and without so many confounding factors.
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Post by eselle28 on Wed Nov 12, 2014 7:54 pm

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:Esselle28,
What do we do about it?

I think honestly talking about it is helpful, but rarely happens, because, as you say, male initiation is taken for granted. Talking about this is admitting weakness again. The whole discourse is structured against an honest discussion.

In your particular situation, it seems like you view your concerns about initiating as a weakness, and it's possible the women you interact with do as well. But that's not the only way to have this conversation. I know, because I've had conversations where I've been asked to do more initiating, and neither of them involved weakness in any way, shape or form. In one case, it was suggested as a solution when due to some unrelated insecurities I was making my partner do most of the initiating, he was feeling overburdened, and as a result we weren't having sex as much as either of us would like. In the other, there was a pretty strong element of "I think this is hot, can we do this more?" to the discussion. So it is possible for some people to have these conversations.

I have to say that I'm a little puzzled that you seem to assume that male initiation is always expected all of the time. I would agree that many women expect men to make the first move, but in long term relationships, the vast majority of couples I can think of both have times when they initiate.
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Post by Dan_Brodribb on Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:06 pm

UristMcBunny wrote:
"I'd love for you to touch my breasts right now."
"I think I'd enjoy that a lot, too."
"Please touch my breasts, then."
*guides your hand to her breasts*
"I'm really enjoying this."
"Do you want to touch more of me?"
"Yes please."
"You can touch me *here* if you like."
*more touching happens*


Ummm.....

*blushing furiously*

I'll be in my bunk.

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Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:24 pm

Mel,

"I've had a guy outright tell me he wanted me to discuss a specific problem with him so he could help me work through it, and then act repulsed when I actually did that. So it seems to me that people just have trouble dealing with weakness/vulnerability in other people to a large extent.

Sorry to hear that, and sure, nothing I wrote about is structurally monocausal.

I also find it a little odd how general this discussion is. "Feminists say they want men to show vulnerabilities and then don't like it when we do."

Yes and no. That *is* an experience. However, as I said before, I think the main problem is one of talking past each other, not that either position is inherently wrong.

Similarly, if we take this back to toxic masculinity, I think you need to look at the specifics. Guys are being asked to avoid specific forms of aggression like badgering a woman who's said no and hollering crude comments at women on the street. I'm not sure why it is confusing to think that women might not want that, but still want a guy who will be assertive at least some of the time in healthy ways... To me these are pretty separate types of behaviors, and talking as if, if women don't like guys being overly aggressive, they should therefore be okay with a guy who will never initiate, as if those are the only possible options rather than extreme ends of a broad scale, comes across as disingenuous to me.

Well, ok, again - I think the general discourse is one of talking past each other. And I think that the discourse is structured in a way that gives one side the moral high ground and the ability to create double binds for the other. Yes, it's totally reasonable to ask for both types of behaviour, but the way this happens and the way there potential side effects of the message don't seem to be even considerd (Dr Nerdlove will deal with the fallout). But for that, it is a very badly crafted message that only relies on one side of the story because the other is assumed. That's probably also a part of why the other side may appear disingenous. This is a communication problem, not one of lying to each other, in my opinion. Both individually and socially.

I think this is similar to "women like jerks". There is no clear definition of "jerk" until people talk about what exactly they mean when they talk about that term. And I know that a lot of guys have internalized scripts that make them feel that being "normal" (according to women's "normal") around women feels, to the guys, like being jerk. In which case "be a jerk” is not the worst advice - for these guys. But at the same time, if there's no way to finetune the message to the appropriate audience a lot of guys listening to that advice may become a lot worse human beings, because they had a much jerkier point to start from.

I don't know how to deal with that problem, but I do know that I think neither the problem nor the problem I have with this is even fairly understood.

I think it's totally reasonable for feminists to encourage men to accept and own their vulnerabilities, and to expect men to handle those vulnerabilities in the context of a relationship in respectful and not overly demanding ways. I think it's totally reasonable for women to ask men to continue being at least somewhat assertive, and to be assertive in nonharmful ways. I think men expect those things from women too.

I completely agree that women should be able to ask for those things, I also think men can and should deliver them, even if I have trouble on one end of the spectrum, but at the same time I would suggest that the discourse is netiher helping them get there nor is it helping those people who are confused and debilitated by the discourse.

I don't think we can judge whether women/feminists in general respond fairly to vulnerability in men based on an extreme behavior like never initiating.

Well, I think it's a good indication that they don't find it particularly sexy. That said, again, I went overboard limiting the generalizability. I do generalize, but I do so based on my experience, both within the "discourse" and with respect to my own experiences.

I do agree, Sam, that this one woman you're talking about was unfair in the way she "tested" you without discussing it with you. I just don't think it's reasonable to use that, especially when you've noted she's the only one you had this particular issue with, to draw conclusions about women in general either.

Well, I think it's an extreme example that illustrates a personal more general point. I think it does go even beyond that - it points towards the "talking past each other"-aspect and its consequences, but again, I am aware of the limits of my generalizations.

If you had simply started a topic saying something like, "I have a lot of trouble initiating, and this is making it hard for me to find romantic partners, and I suspect the narrative that men are supposed to initiate plays into that," I would not take issue with any of that, and, again, I think it's a useful discussion to have.

Yes, that's part... so I think what I wrote would be adding to your words - I have a lot of trouble initiating, and this is making it hard for me to find romantic partners (even though I get to meet a lot of great women), and I suspect that the narrative that men are expected to initiate plays into that, just as I suspect that the (not only feminist) discourse about toxic male masculinity does. I'm in double bind that is hard to get out. And I'm not the only one."

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Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:28 pm

Kleenestar,

I'd be really interested in your suggestions, of course. Maybe my reply to Mel has addressed some of your concerns.

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Post by kleenestar on Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:29 pm

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:
Well, she told me a month later that she "tested" that weekend. And I think it was unfair because she didn't tell me that that was something that suddenly bothered her. We were in a proto distance relationship for about 5 months at that point and talked about gender stuff about every other day, because she is an academic feminist, her baggage, my baggage. I was *particularly* careful because of *her baggage* as well (just don't want to give too many details about her). And then she told me that she basically, silently, wanted me to ignore my issues, and her issues, and what we talked about, and just "be a man."

Well, then, she acted in a shitty way. I don't think it was wrong of her to test to see whether you'd initiate physical contact after a verbal signal - that would be very useful information for her to have. But it's pretty shitty of her to have unspoken expectations of you that she keeps quiet for a long time and then suddenly hits you with. Also, anyone who is like "just ignore both our issues and the things we talked about" reads to me as kind of scary, selfish, and dangerous.

That said, I think it will help you a lot if you can try to see her as an individual instead of as representing All Feminists or All Women. I know it might feel like every woman you encounter is now keeping this kind of secret from you, but I can assure you that isn't the case. The question is how you can learn to rebuild your trust after being betrayed by this individual feminist woman.

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:
Absolutely. I'm totally open to talking about all kinds of sexual stuff. Moving onward also depends. I've gotten a little more relaxed about this, but it's still not easy.

So, let me try to tell you my understanding of the issue based on things you've said in several places.

You are okay expressing sexual interest verbally.

You are (always?) very uncomfortable initiating sexual touch, with or without verbal consent.

You are (usually? but not always) very uncomfortable escalating sexual touch, though verbal consent makes it easier.

Is that an accurate picture?

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:
Yes, it doesn't. Although, to be fair, it rarely gets to the point where completely explicit personal sexual innuendos would be appropriate. For kissing, talking about it is, in my experience, not the way to go.

I'm not sure I quite understand. Could you give a concrete example of where things derail?

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:Not my experience. In my experience, it seems more like this - "if you cannot clearly read if I want to kiss you, does that tell me something about your inability to read women? Probably".

Hmmm, I think this is part of your problem. You have just had two women say to you that they think this behavior is attractive, but instead of asking why, you are instead overwriting our actual experiences with the stuff that's in your head. That's not going to help you unpack this - in fact, it means that you're going to end up interpreting all kinds of situations that don't actually play into your concerns as related to them.
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Post by kleenestar on Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:31 pm

Sam, if you can stick to the below, I'm good to continue.

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:
If you had simply started a topic saying something like, "I have a lot of trouble initiating, and this is making it hard for me to find romantic partners, and I suspect the narrative that men are supposed to initiate plays into that," I would not take issue with any of that, and, again, I think it's a useful discussion to have.

Yes, that's part... so I think what I wrote would be adding to your words - I have a lot of trouble initiating, and this is making it hard for me to find romantic partners (even though I get to meet a lot of great women), and I suspect that the narrative that men are expected to initiate plays into that, just as I suspect that the (not only feminist) discourse about toxic male masculinity does. I'm in double bind that is hard to get out. And I'm not the only one."

Unfortunately I'm about to head into a series of meetings - though that said I think I still want to do some listening and probing before I give you any concrete recommendations for things to try.
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Post by reboot on Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:40 pm

I wonder if definition "vulnerability" varies between individuals and different people have different tolerances for different aspects of vulnerability.

For example, I am good at handling expressed emotions and tears from people but get super impatient with helplessness and "woe is me", so people who express the first kind of vulnerability get a more supportive reaction from me than the second.

Also, vulnerability in all its flavors does not seem like something that most people find sexy in others, regardless of gender. I know most men I know are deeply uncomfortable with women crying and find it awkward or upsetting (depending on the topic) rather than sexy, especially if it is the full on ugly cry with lots of mucus.
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Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:44 pm

Gentleman Johnny,

"Now to your specific situation, there are a lot of steps between spooning and sex. Something as simple as resting your hand on her bicep and gauging the reaction can be "initiating" in this context. If she doesn't respond, cool. If she does, you've got the signal to push one more small step from there. At any given point, you're only pushing a little farther, so its easier to back away from when you get no positive reaction instead of waiting for an explicitly negative one."

I don't know how to state that without sounding entirely crazy. Because, rationally, I totally understand what you tell me. But I've completely internalized this "male sexual aggression" vs consent aspect as a part of myself. I *rationally* get that, but *emotionally* being rejected is not only about rejection, it's also about *having done something that was unwelcome". Arms are generally ok, because not considered sexual, but everything that goes beyond that will *always* make me wonder was this ok?, was that ok? Unless she initiates and escalated, I can't seem to relax and enjoy what's going on. And that's why the general discourse is so important to me in that respect - because I don't think I get a voice in deciding whether touching her arm in that moment was contextually appropriate or not if it is rejected. You say "screw the discourse", and I wish I could, I rather feel like it's the other way around.

Does that remotely make sense to you?

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Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:48 pm

Dan Brodribb,

[A) Somebody or some group of people say/write or tell you something.
B) Based on what they've said, you form an expectation of how they should behave--either them personally or a class of people they belong to.
C) They don't meet that expectation
D) You feel angry/betrayed/confused about them not meeting that expectation

No, it's - in my case - really more about having internalized ideas about how *I* should behave and having formed, based on that narrative, a - I would say - rational expectation of women's expectations.

Your D is certainly part of the problem, but I'm personally more concerned about the misunderstanding occurring in A, because I think that's where the problem starts - both personally and socially.

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Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:04 pm

Hey UristMcBunny,

thanks for sharing your communication story. I'm working on that.

I wonder if more explicit communication might help for your situation. "Initiating sex" can take many different forms and your partners might not always understand that you specifically want them to be putting your hands on their body, which is a very sexually aggressive thing to do. Would you be able to incorporate more use of words into things? Would you be able to do things like outright state "You know, I'm feeling rather horny right now." or "Just so you know, if you were in the mood for it, I would love to mess around with you." in moments when you would like to be sexual? Or, if that feels too much like initiating to you, would you feel comfortable - or be able to try to work with - your partners "initiating" by saying similar things to you? Maybe "SamSeaborn, I'd love to be kissing you right now." or maybe even a whole conversation like: ...
Is that something that sounds workable for you?

You're right that I can deal better with words when it comes to initiating, but it's not like it's easy. I'm generally game when someone initiates with me, though, by hands or by words, unless there's a deeped problem at hand. Verbal escalation is harder and easier at the same time. It's harder because it doesn't leave the wiggle room that physical escalation allows and it's easier for the smae reason.

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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:06 pm

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:Gentleman Johnny,

"Now to your specific situation, there are a lot of steps between spooning and sex. Something as simple as resting your hand on her bicep and gauging the reaction can be "initiating" in this context. If she doesn't respond, cool. If she does, you've got the signal to push one more small step from there. At any given point, you're only pushing a little farther, so its easier to back away from when you get no positive reaction instead of waiting for an explicitly negative one."

I don't know how to state that without sounding entirely crazy. Because, rationally, I totally understand what you tell me. But I've completely internalized this "male sexual aggression" vs consent aspect as a part of myself. I *rationally* get that, but *emotionally* being rejected is not only about rejection, it's also about *having done something that was unwelcome". Arms are generally ok, because not considered sexual, but everything that goes beyond that will *always* make me wonder was this ok?, was that ok? Unless she initiates and escalated, I can't seem to relax and enjoy what's going on. And that's why the general discourse is so important to me in that respect - because I don't think I get a voice in deciding whether touching her arm in that moment was contextually appropriate or not if it is rejected. You say "screw the discourse", and I wish I could, I rather feel like it's the other way around.

Does that remotely make sense to you?

Yeah. I went through the same thing, man. You've got two different things I want to hit here, so I'm going to break them down.

So first off, theory is great inasmuch as it gives you a working model of what to do in realty. Right now, the way you're processing the discourse is giving you the opposite of that. Worrying about the feminist theory implications of what you're doing has damaged your ability to deal with people, making you feel bad no matter which way you go. You can work on doing mental gymnastics until you find a non-dissonant way to apply all the terminology to what you're doing but why bother? Better to cut the Gordian Knot and come at the situation from a different perspective.

Here's one: all communication involves a certain level of risk. You don't want to be the guy handing out religious pamphlets or free samples of dead sea salt hand creme in the mall. Good. Don't be that guy. At the same time, if you're interested in someone or doing something in particular with them, they have no way of knowing that if you don't tell them. They can't read minds any better than you can. Yeah, it means you're staring rejection straight in the face but it also limits the potential for misunderstandings. This isn't an exclusively male thing, either. I'm all for women being open and communicative with people they'e comfortable with.

Now not all communication has to be verbal but you want to be sure that any non-verbal communication is extra clear and leaves room for the other person to back off with no hurt feelings. That's a bit more of an advanced thing but its the core of what we're both talking about here. This can also work for the "is that ok?" worries. There's nothing wrong with "You like that? How about this?" or stopping a little short of something and looking in her eyes for confirmation. You trust a woman to say no, trust her to say yes, too.

Yeah, I know its not easy. Work on it. You'll still meet people with weird double standards, people who don't know what they want until they don't get it, socially awkward people who can't communicate their needs. That's life. The objective is to be secure enough in what you want and who you want to be that you can discount the one who aren't compatible as quickly as possible and move on so you can both spend your itme finding someone you're a better match for.

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Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:21 pm

I need to work, too. Thanks for replying -


That said, I think it will help you a lot if you can try to see her as an individual instead of as representing All Feminists or All Women. I know it might feel like every woman you encounter is now keeping this kind of secret from you, but I can assure you that isn't the case. The question is how you can learn to rebuild your trust after being betrayed by this individual feminist woman.

Well, it's not just her, this is a pattern, at least to me, and this example just perfectly illustrated it.

[quote]You are okay expressing sexual interest verbally.
>

Depends on the context. I try to be as indirect as I can given the context allowing as much wiggle room for everyone as possible. Often start talking about sex in general to gauge her reaction first.

[quote]You are (always?) very uncomfortable initiating sexual touch, with or without verbal consent.

No, if she tells me to touch her, that's fine. Initiating sexual touch is hard outside of the dance floor. Dancing is fine, as I don't consider it sexual, although other people's mileage may vary. I remember a case where I danced with a female friend and had just before talked to a male friend about my weakness, and when I got back from the floor he looked at me confused and said - "you have trouble kissing but you dance lambada with her? Dude, I'd kiss her a long time before I'd dance with her like *that*."

You are (usually? but not always) very uncomfortable escalating sexual touch, though verbal consent makes it easier.

Yes. Usually, kind of always.

Is that an accurate picture?

Yes.

SomeSamSeaborn wrote:

Yes, it doesn't. Although, to be fair, it rarely gets to the point where completely explicit personal sexual innuendos would be appropriate. For kissing, talking about it is, in my experience, not the way to go.

I'm not sure I quite understand. Could you give a concrete example of where things derail?

[quote]I don't know... close dancing and "nose kissing" (no problem with it, for some reason) is a common scenario. If I don't manage to verbally ask her in that situation, I'm not going to kiss her. Usually, if I don't ask, I don't ask because I think asking would be weird becasue the situation is actually that clear, so I would be embarrassed to ask. And still I can't kiss her.

Hmmm, I think this is part of your problem. You have just had two women say to you that they think this behavior is attractive, but instead of asking why, you are instead overwriting our actual experiences with the stuff that's in your head. That's not going to help you unpack this - in fact, it means that you're going to end up interpreting all kinds of situations that don't actually play into your concerns as related to them.

Ok, I wasn't trying to overwrite what you said, just that doesn't reflect my experiences until now. Sorry if that's what you felt.

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Post by Mel on Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:30 pm

Sam, I hope this doesn't come across as dismissive at all--have you tried speaking with a therapist, and if not, would you consider it?  Because the level of anxiety you're talking about sounds like a clinical problem to me, a reaction out of proportion to the cause, like something in your mind is going a little haywire.*  I don't think the average person is equipped to help you with anxiety that intense and deeply-rooted, so I'm not sure we'll be able to provide much actual help, but a psychological professional might be able to help you work through it more effectively and give you better strategies for overcoming it.

*The way you're talking about it makes me think of how people express phobias--"I know logically that it's incredibly unlikely a plane will crash, but I just can't get over my fear and get on", that sort of thing--though it's hard to pin down exactly what this would be a phobia of. Feeling like a predator?
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Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:37 pm

Gentleman Johnny,

I need a break, will say more to your reply. Thanks. For now just this:

You trust a woman to say no, trust her to say yes, too.

I actually only really trust her yes. That's part of the initiating problem. If I truly believed it was ok to confront her with something (I consider) sexual and trust her no then a lot of my problem would be gone. Remember our little exchange about booleans? Trusting a no is acting on an assumed variable.

I've been talking with a psychologist about my tendency to weigh a century of gender discourse in my head when it's really only about believing that we have to give something to each other at that point. And given where I come from, and despite all the female attention I'm lucky to get, something like moving in for a kiss still makes me feel like "stealing a kiss". And I really don't know how to get that into non-dissonant territory.

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Post by nonA on Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:38 pm

Want to get this out of the way first. Whatever does or does not turn someone's crank, that doesn't necessarily say anything about their life outside the sexual/romantic sphere. Hell, I've personally had several experiences where girls were responding quite well to seduction, only to decide that they weren't comfortable with what happened the morning after and decided to pull a slow fade. What gets someone turned on doesn't necessarily have anything to do with what they say when they're not turned on, but it also doesn't necessarily have to do with how they feel when they're not turned on either.

In other words, there are several topics where this issue isn't germane, and indeed counterproductive.

Having said that, two things come to mind;

-Uhm, yes. What gets people off isn't necessarily what they like to say, or even what they like to think. This isn't news. Nor is the fact that members of movements will often insist on absolutist, ideology-driven points over anything grounded in the real world.

-I generally avoid feminist sites due to how often they trigger my "Somebody is wrong on the internet!" reflex, so does anybody else have links to feminists saying absolute batshit crazy stuff? Seeing how often feminists get it completely wrong might be a useful detox step for guys who beat themselves up for failing to live up to abstract ideology.

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Post by SomeSamSeaborn on Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:46 pm

Mel,

don't worry, I have some kind of OCD (waaay more obsessive than compulsive), I'm aware of that, but it's not as bad as to qualify as a clininal problem, apparently. I have spoken to psychologists before and I will again, but so far, they've not been great in the strategy department. They helped me structure it for myself, though. Personally, having close female friends (including the one in the story) and going out a lot to "broaden the empiric base" Wink has been most helpful so far.

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Post by eselle28 on Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:49 pm

nonA wrote:
-I generally avoid feminist sites due to how often they trigger my "Somebody is wrong on the internet!" reflex, so does anybody else have links to feminists saying absolute batshit crazy stuff?  Seeing how often feminists get it completely wrong might be a useful detox step for guys who beat themselves up for failing to live up to abstract ideology.

<mod hat>Whether or not it's a useful detox step, it's not a step that's appropriate on these forums. It also seems to stray considerably from the previous course of the conversation, almost as if someone were trying to shoehorn the topic into it.</modhat>
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Post by IHaveToes on Wed Nov 12, 2014 11:00 pm

I, as a woman, feminist, and internet stranger, give you permission to forget about feminism while in a sexy situation. All you need to do is follow the golden rule of "don't be an ass".

For realsies though, the disconnect between feminist theory and the way some women ask is just something that is. Feminist rhetoric doesn't cover all women's experience and thus you are going to find women who are totally on board with the men initiating thing. You'll also find women who are on board with feminist theory but want to be "taken" because that is what gets them off. What gets you off doesn't have to be in line with feminism as long as you aren't hurting others. It happens. I feel like you're having issues reconciling "what women say" (feminist theory which in some cases talks about ideals, not necessarily reality) and "what women do" (real experience with real women who have flaws and their own, many non-feminist, ideals). I'm not saying it's bad to have feminist ideals, but sometimes they need to be put aside so you can connect with real, flawed people.

Some suggestions which I think may be helpful:
- When you're getting sexy with someone and you start to feel the what-if-I-go-too-far panic start up, maybe try to take a moment to address that thought then focus on something else. Try thinking to yourself "Has she indicated a no? Does she seem to be enjoying this?, then (assuming good answers on those) you can try and dismiss the thought. Focus on what you're doing instead of the theoretical implications of the actions.
- When you feel up for it but don't know if she is, try something along the lines of "Would you like to kiss/fool around?" Then each time you want to escalate farther ask "Can I grab your [body part]?", "Do you want to get undressed?", "I'd really love to fuck right now, how about you?", etc. That way if she doesn't want a particular escalation she'll say outright or you'll hear hesitation and a soft no.
- Before you get too far into sexy times, tell her "I have a bit of trouble escalating things sometimes. Can you tell me when you want to go further?"
- Before getting too far into a sexual relationship, say something like "I can't always tell when women want to start something sexy. Can you tell me when you want to start fooling around?"

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Post by kleenestar on Wed Nov 12, 2014 11:21 pm

Ah, so I think that something really important has come up here, and I want to set aside some of the things I was exploring to follow it up.

To me the critical issue is "I can't trust her no." I think that if you can address that, it will help you unlock the log jam.

Fortunately, this is something I have direct personal experience with. For me it wasn't in a sexual context; it was in the context of asking other people to do me even the smallest favor. But it's something I had to retrain myself out of, and I still have strategies for coping with this problem that I use today.

The key insight for me - and I hope for you - was that being able to trust someone's no is about developing knowledge of that person and trust in that person. Trying to apply broader gender scripts might help (or hurt!) with doing those things, but ultimately your goal is to know under what circumstances and how far you can trust the no of the person you are talking to. Getting to this point is a skill, and having faith both in your own judgments and in the other person to behave as expected is not easy. But it's easier than the alternatives!

I use a number of techniques with people to help me learn about their no. For example, I taught myself to trust my partner's no by asking him for a lot of very small favors (e.g. "Would you get me a glass of water?"). He taught me he would say no by actually saying no, but the stakes were low enough that even if he didn't say no I could feel confident I wasn't being an asshole. This is a strategy I would highly recommend for you, though I think we will have to do some careful thinking about how to apply it given the different context. If this seems helpful, I can also do some more careful thinking about other strategies I've tried over the years for figuring out whose no I can trust and under what circumstances.
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Post by Guest on Thu Nov 13, 2014 4:41 am

kleenestar wrote:
Conreezy wrote:
What I've found to be disarming is being totally upfront about my feelings: I tell people "I'm nervous" or "I'm embarassed" outright.  If it's in a sexual context, I would say, calmly as possible, "I'm a bit nervous to say this, but I'd like to kiss you" or "Yes, I'm nervous, because I'm very attracted to you and don't want to mess anything up."  Of course, I would do it while trying my hardest not to appear nerve-racked.  A calm description of feeling, I find, helps release the feeling while showing confidence that admitting you're having an emotion doesn't make you a weakling.  It normalizes it, I think, and it's what I think "owning" an emotion is, as opposed to squashing my feelings down until they turn into anger or breaking down into tears every time I see a sunset.  

As a lady-type person, I would just like to say that this is a) highly effective both for me and for women that I know and b) a critical skill to practice for long-term relationships.

(highly effective = there may be swooning)

This is GENIUS. Plus I like hearing that sometimes women would like some honesty in a dude's feelings on his desires. Love love love this so much.

ElizaJane wrote:
As a lady-type person, I would just like to say that this is a) highly effective both for me and for women that I know and b) a critical skill to practice for long-term relationships.

(highly effective = there may be swooning)

Seconded!  A guy who just says, "Yeah, liking you, but don't want to push," or "Man, I really want to kiss you, but I don't know how you'll respond"?  Turn-on.[/quote]

Scoooore. That's sorta the script I came up with in my head in case I ever find myself that deeply rooted into an intimate situation.

UristMcBunny wrote:
"I'd love for you to touch my breasts right now."
"I think I'd enjoy that a lot, too."
"Please touch my breasts, then."
*guides your hand to her breasts*
"I'm really enjoying this."
"Do you want to touch more of me?"
"Yes please."
"You can touch me *here* if you like."
*more touching happens*


Male sexual assertiveness and female desire (or lack thereof) - Page 2 1317937743163

Dude, that's dope.

Dan_Brodribb wrote:

Ummm.....

*blushing furiously*

I'll be in my bunk.

Seriously lol.

IHaveToes wrote:I, as a woman, feminist, and internet stranger, give you permission to forget about feminism while in a sexy situation. All you need to do is follow the golden rule of "don't be an ass".

Ah, the "don't be an ass" rule, a great rule to live by.

IHaveToes wrote:
I feel like you're having issues reconciling "what women say" (feminist theory which in some cases talks about ideals, not necessarily reality) and "what women do" (real experience with real women who have flaws and their own, many non-feminist, ideals). I'm not saying it's bad to have feminist ideals, but sometimes they need to be put aside so you can connect with real, flawed people.

That... is actually rather liberating. Bog knows I'm horny as a mofo every morning and every night, but I struggle with that dissonance since I know women wish to be treated with respect, be treated as people, not objects, etc. So the feminist ideals plus me wanting to have sexy times creates a lot of head scratching for me in particular.

IHaveToes wrote:
Some suggestions which I think may be helpful:
- When you're getting sexy with someone and you start to feel the what-if-I-go-too-far panic start up, maybe try to take a moment to address that thought then focus on something else. Try thinking to yourself "Has she indicated a no? Does she seem to be enjoying this?, then (assuming good answers on those) you can try and dismiss the thought. Focus on what you're doing instead of the theoretical implications of the actions.
- When you feel up for it but don't know if she is, try something along the lines of "Would you like to kiss/fool around?" Then each time you want to escalate farther ask "Can I grab your [body part]?", "Do you want to get undressed?", "I'd really love to fuck right now, how about you?", etc. That way if she doesn't want a particular escalation she'll say outright or you'll hear hesitation and a soft no.
- Before you get too far into sexy times, tell her "I have a bit of trouble escalating things sometimes. Can you tell me when you want to go further?"
- Before getting too far into a sexual relationship, say something like "I can't always tell when women want to start something sexy. Can you tell me when you want to start fooling around?"

This is very helpful and pretty much confirms that I did everything right when I ran a similar gauntlet earlier this year with a female friend.

Short of it is there was some well-received touching/fondling from me, as in my friend was enjoying the hell out of it. IDK what came over me that night, but I grabbed her by the waist and pulled her up to my lap, I "took" her so to speak and cuddled a little longer. Maybe I succumbed to my own primal sexuality? Is that what it means to "own your [male] sexuality"? Yes, I'm aware that this isn't a story I tell very often because I forget it happened lol.

I coulda gone even further but I kept myself from going even further for a few reasons...

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Post by BasedBuzzed on Thu Nov 13, 2014 8:07 am

Feminism is not a monolith. There are bazillion blogs out there, from LessWrong/feminism crossblends to snarky sex worker blogs, and from weird transhumanist feminists to halfway-intersectional harping that perpetuates gender normativity to an unhealthy degree. Go out there and read a plurality of perspectives if you have some sort of inner feminist voice shaming you for stuff that other strands would tell you to embrace.

The same with sexy talk. Learn a variety, from mock-polite to guttural, from cheesy to snarky, and tune it to the person's conversational style.

"Can I touch your breasts?" can be "Would milady like a massage of her bow ornamentation?" or a husky-needy "Can I grab those?" or "Wow, that's stunning" to "If the boobs don't come to <your name>, than <your name> will have to go to the boobs". Sometimes you misfire and it sounds awkward, other times the mood is broken and you'll have gigglefits together, but it often just works if you're in tune with her communication style.

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