2006-04-08 : That certain zing

A true story, slightly hyperbolized for your enjoyment.

Here's me reading comments on my blog. Oh cool, Ron's replied to me! Meg's reading over my shoulder and we read...

...Nothing special about the women in question, nothing different from doing other social stuff with women. Doing nearly any social stuff with women is a sensual experience. Was this supposed to be some kind of big male secret or something?

We're chuckling along, and I say, kind of self-mocking and acknowledging Ron's point, "well I'VE been trying to keep it secret."

And Meg says, "you have? Then POORLY."

And I'm like, "...really?"

And she says, "oh yes. We see right through that."

And I'm like, "oh crap. You mean ... you all know?"

She rolls her eyes. "Know what Julia and I were talking about today? We were talking about how boys just cannot seem to tell when you're into them."

Which is kind of interesting and maybe I'd follow up, but I'm too busy feeling like that dream where I don't have the bus fare ... because I'M NAKED ON THE BUS! OH NO!

The end.

1. On 2006-04-08, Meguey said:

Heehehehee. It's so true. I mean, how much more obvious do we have to be? For a group that is generally taken to be thinking about sex -all-the-time-, it's amazing how often you miss out due to cluelessness.


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This makes...
Chris go "Cluelessness = me"*
CS go "really though..."*
lpl go "Verily"*
JZ go "Works for me"*

*click in for more

2. On 2006-04-08, Brand Robins said:

Boys are dumb about girls.



3. On 2006-04-08, Charles S said:

It's always seemed to me that most people (both men and women) are pretty bad about figuring out who's attracted to them.

On the other hand, to the extent that male sexuality is constructed as predatory (or pursuit based, if you prefer a less loaded term), it makes sense that men get little training in recognizing active interest by women. Within the standard model, women are only supposed to show interest in response to a male approach, so men are suppose to only notice interest if it is in response to their approach. Even then, interest from women is something that is supposed to be earned, not present from the begining, so recognizing active interest is not as important as persistance.

Dumb just doesn't start to cover it.

The really sad thing is the degree to which recognizing the fucked-up-ness of all that does not provide an out to the training. Men who hate the predatory model are still stuck with having been trained in it.


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This reminds...
BL of The marginalia reminded me of this comic

This makes...
lpl go "Men win"*
BL go "Huh?"*
EP go "Cat and Girl!"*
lpl go "Worthless Google!"*

*click in for more

4. On 2006-04-08, Charles S said:

Responding to lpl and Ben in the marginalia of my last comment.

It seems to me that it is obviously not the case that men approach everyone they are attracted to, but only approach those they think they have a chance with. If women never approach, but only attempt to signal that men they are interested in will have a chance, I think we would still end up with parity, depending on ability to signal and ability to estimate. However, if women are stuck only signaling and not initiating, then they have to judge each initiating man on the uncertainty that another sufficiently interesting man will initiate any time soon, so women are more likely to either be forced to settle for second best, or to settle for no one. So if Alice fancies both Carlos and Daniel, but prefers Daniel, if Carlos approaches her, she has to either settle for him or reject him and hold out for Daniel, who may not be interested in her, or may not ever figure out that she's interested in him. Meanwhile, if Daniel fancies both Alice and Beth, but fancies Beth more, then he approaches Beth first, and only approaches Alice if Beth isn't interested, so if either Alice or Beth is interested in Daniel, then Daniel gets the best available outcome, while if Carlos fancies Alice, but Daniel doesn't, then Alice loses completely (if she rejects Carlos), while Carlos is free to approach Eliza or Francine, or if she accepts Carlos and Daniel was interested, then she loses her optimal outcome.

But that isn't Alice's real problem in this situation, the real problem is that the predatory model of male sexual desire goes by another name as well: predatory male sexual desire is one of the underpinnings of rape culture, so Alice loses no matter what, and whether they want to or not, Carlos and Daniel win, because they aren't the targets of the rape culture, don't suffer the disadvantages of being the targets of the rape culture, and get the benefits (horrible though they may be) of being part of the dominant group. No matter how much individual men may hate living under rape culture, women suffer under it far far more. Everyone loses, but relative advantage matters.

Sorry, I think this was kinda meant to be a light hearted thread, but this was straight where it took me.


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This makes...
BL go "I disagree..."*
lpl go "No..."*
CS go "lpl?"*
lpl go "Ah, gotcha CS!"*

*click in for more

5. On 2006-04-08, Vincent said:

I don't believe in light hearted threads. Especially not about sex and gender. Light hearted stories, only maybe.

The thing is, talking about rape automatically trumps talking about sex - and as a community, we here at my blog aren't equipped to talk about rape effectively. For here, for now, let's agree to leave rape aside. If we need a thread to talk about rape in, I can make one (but I'm not hopeful that it'd go well).

We are equipped, if we're brave and careful, to talk about sex.


6. On 2006-04-08, Brand Robins said:

Okay, avoiding the rape word...

Charles, you say many true things in your post but there is one problem that comes quickly to mind from the gender studies work I've done: you assume that in the male aggressor model the male is always the initiator de facto and a priori.

That is to say, that women sit there passively without doing -anything- in order to swing the way that men will approach them, or which men will approach them. Alice, in the above situation, may just sit and wait for one of the boys—but there are many situations in the world in which she is doing much, much more than that and has started prompting one of the boys far ahead of time.

Now, it's also true that the tools girls are given may not be fair nor adequate for the job in all situations; but that is a different argument than assuming the passive prey is simply sitting and waiting like a deer in a sniper scope.

The real problem then comes when boys are stupid about girls, and don't know when they're being prompted. Or when girls are stupid about boys and don't send the right prompts. Or, most common of all, when both sexes ignore the signals and charge right ahead with their social-awkwardness and emotional blackmail blinders on.


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This makes...
BR go "This, btw, is why I used to pick up so much better than my friends."*
MB go "See? Yes."*
CS go "signalling"*

*click in for more

7. On 2006-04-08, Meguey said:

^ What Vincent said. I teach sex ed, and the sexual abuse course is a whole seperate curriculem, taught after the sex ed one. Learning to talk about sex and sexuality in a healthy, honest, and positive way is radical.

I am *totally not* saying that women should wait to be approached, although both sexes and all genders do that sometimes to some extent. I'm saying that the cues women send out, especially in late high school-early college, are often unrecieved by the men they are interested in. We totally know the power of touch, posture, and eye contact. We 'get' that. The thing is, it seems as if the guy in question is so flustered at the notion we might actually be into him, or so oblivious, that he bobbles the exchange.


8. On 2006-04-08, Lisa P said:

You know I've been told time and time again... Men don't take hints.  You've got to tell them flat out.

"Come here big boy.  Mama needs."


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This makes...
BR go "GRIN!"
Pol go ""Give me your seed, Earth man!""*

*click in for more

9. On 2006-04-08, Charles S said:


I do see what you are saying, but it seems to me that it is also a matter of high school-college age women not understanding that if they have figured out that a guy they are interested in is interested in them, but the guy is not getting that they are interested too, then the solution (as Lisa says) is to make that interest explicit.

Of course, the pursuer model teaches women not to do that, and it teaches men to respond badly if they do, particularly since, if it is something you aren't trained to do, you are likely to do it badly.

Through that period (high school/ early college), I mostly behaved very cross gender (although fairly blindly). When I wanted to be romantically/sexually involved, I simply presented myself as available and then, when approached by someone I found interesting, made myself hang on their every word, and then said yes when they explicitly expressed interest. Really hard core signaling of the right sort is pretty effect for men too. I was pretty good at picking up signals, but had a very hard time figuring out how to approach. I got better at it a semester or two into college, and the next 3 relationships I was less passive in initiating.

The turning point was someone I met in my first semester at Oberlin, where we were both obviously attracted to each other from when we first met, but didn't get together until the very end of the semester (and she was, bizarrely, an inter-college exchange student, taking a break from MIT, so she was gone after that one semester), and only got together because she got so frustrated with my (and Oberlin men in general) refusal to initiate that she conspired with my girlfriend to arrange my seduction. Somehow, that freed me up to be more active in initiating, and my next three relationships I was much more active in initiation (although in two of them it was the dance where neither party ever clearly steps far enough past the signaling of the other party for it to seem like one party approached the other, instead, both parties signal interest by gradually approaching).

And I've certainly met women who were equally clueless. "Oh, you spent three months flirting with me? I never realized."

Of course, we don't (thank G*d) live in a society with a strict predator model, and we all have strong overlays of egalitarian model as well. It seems like in many situations, one model dominates, but there is definitely a mix.


10. On 2006-04-09, Peter Nordstrand said:

Bah, Americans! Incessantly talking about sex, but never actually doing it.


11. On 2006-04-10, Tris said:

Two things, one perhaps less relevant, but still interesting.  I'll start with the more relevant one:

It seems to me, and I have found through various discussions, that sex is a very unsafe area to stereotype about.  Personally, the woman in question is massively important.  I've RPed with girls that I have no tensionchemistryfizz with, and it's much the same as RPing with boys.  Then there are some girls with whom there is always a buzz, whatever we are doing.

My conclusion - Vincent is oversexed, possibly because of his oversized macho narr wang.

The second thing is that there is an argument that women are advantaged by our current model of relations.  The reason being that there are several reasons why humans appear to be on the border between polygamy and (promiscuous) monogamy.

I've heard several guys argue that because what's "best" for them, in DNA terms, is a harem, and what's "best" for a woman is a single nurturing husband, women have it great.

These guys fail to see how a harem-based society would actually work.

In forge terms, the big high ruler guy (Ron, I guess :-)  Gets a LOT of chicks.  1000s.  Regional Kings get quite a few (Vincent, Ben, you'd be okay).

Peons like the rest of us get none.  None at all.  And if we go violate a harem?  Beheading probably.  If not being forced to play incoherant designs FOREVER!

Yeah, so if the Forge was like a polygamous society, it would suck for most of the guys.

Told you it was less relevant.  Hope you agreed it was interesting.


12. On 2006-04-12, Carrie said:

I think there's a lot of missed opportunities because people want a really wide variety of things out of one another when they pursue each other socially (some want sex, some want relationships, some want both, some want to 'be bad' some want to 'be good', some want to be rejected, some want to feel accepted.... I could go on forever). It's really hard to figure out who wants what out of who, because as far as I can tell no social agendas of any kind are ever explicitly stated between humans and some (many?) of us don't even realize what we're pursuing!

This isn't just about sex, this is about all the monkey-things we do, and some things that are perhaps unique to humans. Guys reacting to having women present is probably multifold, not just about sex. Though I'm not a man and couldn't say for sure. But there can be lots of things happening that relate to playing games with people across lines of attraction. For example, there can be rallying for position (like trying to impress), which might not even really be about the woman, but about your relationship to the other men at the table. Or about the rush of going out on a limb with people you're attracted to (but not specifically about the attraction itself; more about exposing your emotional self to them).


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This makes...
AG go "Just like RPing!"
CB go "Good point!"

13. On 2006-04-14, Vincent said:

Carrie: Guys reacting to having women present is probably multifold, not just about sex. Though I'm not a man and couldn't say for sure. But there can be lots of things happening that relate to playing games with people across lines of attraction. For example, there can be rallying for position (like trying to impress), which might not even really be about the woman, but about your relationship to the other men at the table. Or about the rush of going out on a limb with people you're attracted to (but not specifically about the attraction itself; more about exposing your emotional self to them).

Good point.

The latter, especially, is something I've been trying to get at, without any success. "But not specifically about the attraction itself," exactly. Attraction is a contributor to what's going on, not the point of what's going on, often. Maybe even overwhelmingly often.


14. On 2006-04-14, Mark W said:

I was just talking with my partner Kathy about this topic the other night. It's like this, for us - some of the same things that make someone a "good fit" game-play-wise also happen to be things we find attractive in other ways... creativity, sensitivity to body language, emotional openness, flexibility, give-and-take...

It's not foolproof by any means, but I would say that both of us have found that people we game with well have a pretty good tendency to be fun to play with in other ways.


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