““Yes, yes, oh God, yes!!” means Go; anything else means No.”
Bill Cosby. Charlie Rose. Louie CK. Al Franken. Roy Moore. We are in the midst of special times, witnessing one of the best outgrowths of the feminist revolution: Exposing weak men who use their power and influence to take advantage over women sexually, and exposing a culture that shames women for their sexuality and then excuses men for not controlling theirs.
And during this time, I have an 18yo son, a senior in high school, preparing to launch out into a much bigger world of sexual potential, freedom, and consequence. This has me thinking very carefully about all these issues, and specifically about what it means to be a good man in the 21st century. Below is an excerpt of some thoughts I’m writing to him in a book I’ll give him when he graduates:
Brandon, thanks to the feminist revolution, the sanction of gay marriage, and new radical conversations about gender, we’re in a fascinating age of sexuality. And 2017 has seen another giant leap, this time about sexual harassment and assault. One Hollywood or Washington player after another has been publicly accused of using their power or influence to take advantage of women. It’s left us all wondering who’s next to fall from grace.
It’s also left us wondering just how common any kind of sexual violence really is. Thanks to the revelation of the #metoo movement on social media. So many women are feeling freer than ever to reveal the truth about their own experiences as sexual victims. This is tragic and heartbreaking, and at some level, it has affected almost every woman you know.
With this in mind, Brandon, as you become a bigger, stronger, more successful, and more attractive man, I want you to carefully consider your pursuit of romance. The world is going to preach louder than ever the need for consent, as in…”Before proceeding to the next sexual step with a woman, you need to secure her explicit consent.” I understand this prescription, and perhaps it is a great next step in this fight against inequality. But son, I want you to hear me very clearly: Screw consent. You, and the woman you’re pursuing, are better than that. Go for what you really want instead: Enthusiastic Mutual Desire.
Let me explain. You don’t want “consent” from a woman, passively agreeing to proceed in a legalistic way—you want her to want you. This is why you’re dating her, or asking her out, or marrying her—you want her to want you as much as you want her.
This is the reason any and all efforts to “get” a woman are not just manipulative and wrong, they’re ineffective. Manipulating a woman into any kind of sexual activity, from forcing an awkward conversation all the way up to forcing a rape, is not only horrifically wrong and deserving of punishment, it eliminates the possibility of experiencing what you really want…to be genuinely wanted!! Manipulating or forcing a woman to engage on anything sexual, in the name of feeling wanted by her, is the ultimate backfire—any move in that direction actually communicates you don’t really believe you’re desirable. And whenever you don’t believe you are an attractive man, no one else will either.
That’s the irony of all these powerful men and their crimes. Sexual control of any kind is the ultimate sign of an immature, insecure man. Either he’s way too Alpha, narcissistically using his power to trap a woman into feeding his entitlement (which nurses his insecurity), or way too Beta, exposing himself to a woman because he feels he has no legitimate desirability (which feeds his insecurity).
Son, my hope is that you find a lifelong romantic partner, who wants you as much as you want her. And I hope every progression of your romantic life with her is filled w/ a “Yes, yes, oh God, yes!” kind of Enthusiastic Mutual Desire from both of you. In order to find that kind of mutual attraction, set your standards ridiculously high, and proceed with caution. Some guidelines:
–if your attraction efforts require practicing a manipulative technique of any kind, then your intention is not genuine and your insecurity is speaking louder than anything else
–if a woman has more than two drinks, she cannot authentically consent, much less show Enthusiastic Mutual Desire. Messing around with a drunk woman is like kissing a warm corpse. Be a good man, and take her home to her place.
–if you use any kind of advantage to pressure a girl to like you or go to bed with you, you have assaulted her, and you have failed yourself and your truest desire. This refers to a physical advantage, financial advantage, positional authority, influential advantage, anything. You cannot pressure a woman into an Enthusiastic Mutual Desire; it’s not only morally wrong, it’s philosophically impossible.
So, Brandon, when you find yourself in that weird romantic moment with a woman you desire, and wondering how to proceed to a next step, just remember this: “Yes, yes, oh God, yes!!” means Go; anything else means No.
Peace begins with pause,