Sunday, April 27, 2008

Broadsheet Gets This One Wrong

I've lived a relatively sheltered life. Before I came to SL, I really didn't have a good idea about alot of what went on through most men's minds when it game to how their libido worked in thinking about women, and I came from an environment where it didn't take no to mean no. However, since then, I've made thousands of contacts. Many are logged, with exchanges, first come ons, how long it took to be asked for what, and the kiss of remarks. This gives me a kind of mini-Kinsey look at how men in Second Life, and by extension men around the world, since it is no limited to America, or even English speakers, engage in pushing for free cyber that they hope will lead to free meatmeet.

And this is why I don't think Tracy Clark-Flory has it right.

Here is the story as she tells it, a recent study lead researcher Michael Motley, who specializes in interpersonal communication tactics, looked at how women tried to extricate themselves from sexualized foreplay, by direct and indirect means. He concluded that many women used indirect means, and men thought that this was part of foreplay, or not a request to stop or even slow down. His conclusion that men where engaged in "incorrect introspection." This means, basically, that they didn't think what the woman meant by her indirect statement, things like "It's getting late," and instead took anything short of full direct refusal as permission to continue.

Tracy says that "steam" is blowing out of her ears over this, because it is "unfair" to blame men because of the cultural coy script that women need to at least make some attempt at stopping what is going to continue.

The reality is that she's missing the other cultural script, and that is the "crazy bitch script." When a woman is too blunt about saying no, even not very too very blunt, men are prone to say "You are a crazy bitch." I've had this happen hundreds of times, because often even direct statements are refused. And even relatively mild direct refusals can be met with the "You crazy bitch" response. And it is often exactly those words.[1]

A short experiment in an orgy room got 15 come ons, including blind voice call requests, that is a blue dialog box appears and you are asked to start talking voice to voice, and one request for sex cam. On the first line of chat. One person took five exchanges of no to realize that I wasn't going to be his first free SL Sex whore. For peopel who think that what I know is only "clients," I will state directly quite the reverse, I learn far more about how badly men handle women from people who are not, and never will be, clients, but are instead bumbling oafs looking for gratis whores. I say whores rather than sex, because they want all the control over the situation they would get from a whore, just they don't want to pay for it pay for it.

In all,just one male accepted a single direct refusal, "No," or cancelling a blind voice call. No does not mean no. Generally one needs to get to something around insulting to get to no.

Now, human sexual progress is complicated and prone to variation. Human beings in the grip of hormones aren't meant to be thinking clearly, because thinking clearly would lead to a great deal fewer pregnancies. This means that even for the same couple, the same words are going to mean, or send, different signals at different times. This is especially true where non-verbal signals, such as body language, scent, and timing, are not being recorded. One day's "It's late" could mean anything from an offer to stay the night, to a request never to darken this doorstep again.

This means that there are at least a few forces pushing against using some direct form of communication immediately.One is that given the cultural script of a man using the threat of verbal, or even physical, violence should he become upset, it is also no surprise that many women don't want to upset him. Also, given that no can mean not yet, and it isn't the best idea to upset someone who you want to go farther with, just not at this particular moment. As well, upsetting people in general is something most of us, men or women, try not to do if we can avoid it. Different people fall on different parts of the empathy scale, but most people aren't all around jerks.

Even if Tracy is right about the cultural script of men push, women must make some show of stopping or she is a slut, is right, it's still the man's responsibility to find the most, not the most expedient, way of separating the possibilities. More over, and I think Tracy should have thought of this as well, if a man can't take an indirect hint, is he really the man you want around when you aren't feeling communicative about something?

So the reality is that we can't all decide before things get going where they are going to, and it isn't easy to convey all the nuances in a situation where nuance detection is a bit on the low side. The phrase "faulty male introspection" is probably unfortunate. I think "limited male introspection" would be better.

I also think, given the huge outpouring of men saying how wonderful she is, that Tracy is also playing a cultural script, that of the sexually welcoming female, who absolves men of sexual responsibility. It's a play, and I can't help but wonder if it is calculated move, or just part of her act.

Ultimately my triangle is in play: a negotiation between desire, possibility, and social acceptability is in progress. Each one of the three is pressing on both parties, with desire having the kick of hormones, and the possibility for women having both the charge and the peril of pregnancy, and the perils of a more complex series of social consequences. Given that the risks fall more heavily on the woman, it does not seem unreasonable that the man should, therefore, be expected to be more gallant, and learn to pause at critical moments and weigh what is being said. He's risking less, and therefore has a greater burden not to impose to his advantage.

[1] For example, this exact communication:

[3:32] kaan Kurmin: come here baby
[3:36] Lillie Yifu: No
[4:00] kaan Kurmin: hey come here
[4:04] Lillie Yifu: No
[4:07] kaan Kurmin: fuck u :)

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