The #MeToo movement has drastically raised awareness of consent and consent violations outside the world of BDSM. It’s ridiculously easy for people to get backed into even minor consent violations outside of a BDSM context where some outsiders might respond by saying, “Oh, just get fucking over it, that’s nothing. You weren’t ‘hurt.’ No harm, no foul.”
It’s never a bad idea to raise awareness of behaviors that make people blatantly uncomfortable and cross the line of acceptable behavior into the realm of consent violations.
First of all, you might want to read some of my other #consentmatters posts.
Caught up? Cool.
Okay, sooo…this doesn’t even come from the world of BDSM. This is a literal thing that recently happened to a male friend of mine. Gonna call him Jack. (Like Capt. Jack Harkness, only…not.)
Now, I’ve known Jack literally 30+ years now. Known him since high school. He’s not quite 50 yet, a couple of years older than me. Stand-up guy. Going through a divorce right now, at the tail-end of it. He was the victim of a lot of toxic fuckery on the part of his ex, and fortunately is on a good path right now in terms of he’s working on himself, he knows he still has work to do on himself, he is absolutely NOT in the market for any kind of relationship or hook-up with anyone beyond just being friends status right now, and he has no problem making this abundantly and explicitly clear to people.
In other words, there is ZERO ambiguity on his part that he is not available, not looking.
He’s got a female friend whom he met through mutual friends who all get together once a week to engage in a hobby. We’ll call her Sue. Now, Sue is in her mid-twenties, and literally JUST left an abusive relationship days before the event I’m about to describe happened. Jack has known Sue for at least a year now, and in that time has maintained a friendship with her because of the mutual friends and the shared hobby they all engage in.
At no time has Jack ever engaged in any behavior with, to, or about Sue that would lead her on or give her the wrong impression. In fact, when she’s sideways hinted at things before, when asking him for relationship advice, he’s gone out of his way to emphatically tell her his experiences and reiterate that she’d best NOT look to him to be her life raft, because in no known universe was that happening, because he was NOT available.
Not just one half-assed NO, but multiple, emphatic, explicit NOs over the course of MONTHS.
We crystal clear on that point?
Cool. Let’s continue.
He had the opportunity to attend a music-centric event (he’s not in the lifestyle, this was a vanilla event) and, again, a common interest with this girl. She asked to come-with, he said okay, sure. Someone else was supposed to go with them and that person couldn’t go at the last minute, leaving the two of them. They were each paying their own way. It was not in any sense a “date.” He drove, because he had the better vehicle. Event was about two hours away. Because of reasons (multiple and legit, and he wasn’t sure if he’d be home early the next morning or late the next day) he asked me to come house-sit overnight while he was gone.
I was there when Sue arrived and I IMMEDIATELY knew this girl was going to be a problem for him (call it “Mom” sense or “witchy” sense or empathic senses, or whatever) and knew I’d have to tell him ASAP the next day when I could talk to him about it. There were some behaviors she engaged in that I picked up on immediately and that I sensed he probably didn’t (he was doing something and missed some of them). Such as I received some dirty looks when she thought I wasn’t looking, she made a point of leaving her keys planted on his desk–we were upstairs in his home office–and not in any number of more logical places, like, oh, in her fucking purse, or downstairs on a counter by the front fucking door, etc. etc. etc.
Didn’t even take that long for the problems to start, apparently. The event was scheduled to begin around midnight, and I start getting texts shortly thereafter from him, not long after their arrival at the event. To which I told him yeah, sorry, here’s the vibe I got from her, and what she was doing that I saw her do…
The tl;dr is this: all the way over she hinted, and he once again gave her “the talk” in no uncertain terms about he is not interested–not just in her, but in ANYONE right now, for a LOT of legit reasons. At the event she kept trying to “dance” with him, by that meaning grab his hands, grind against him in a very sexual way, play with his hair, after he AGAIN repeatedly and immediately asked her to STOP DOING THOSE THINGS.
Now, cue a record-screech pause:
I have LITERALLY thrown people out of the BDSM club I’m a volunteer at for LESS than this.
She drank alcohol, was sending him texts while at the event (after one such rejection she walked away in tears and joined another group of people, and then was sending things like oh, guess I’m unloveable, etc. those kinds of passive-aggressive/pity-poor-me bullshit), then would come back and say things to him like, “Well, but would you ever consider…”
While I’d been thinking about just going home since it looked like it’d be a fairly early return for him, he specifically asked me to remain there (her car was parked at his place) because he did not want to be alone with her there, and wasn’t sure how long it’d take for her to sober up upon their return. On the way back from the event there was MORE talking where he AGAIN said look, this is NOT happening, and never WILL happen, and she several times tried to get him to just pull over and let her out (literally in the middle of the Interstate) and luckily for her, he said no to THAT.
I don’t think Sue adequately appreciates how fucking LUCKY she is she didn’t end up raped–or worse–that night. At the very least, no one would have blamed Jack had he said fuck this shit and left her at the event and left her to find her own way back. Or let her leave immediately upon returning to his place and risk her harming herself or someone else driving drunk.
Literally, I don’t think Sue comprehends that he might have saved her life, or the life of someone else.
I managed to sleep through their return and the better part of an hour she was there before he finally let her leave once he was convinced she was sober enough to drive. But I got the full version of events from him not long after.
- he has EXPLICITLY told her NO over a period of MONTHS
- and again that night
- multiple times he’s given her specific reasons why NO means NO, with zero ambiguity
- she made multiple physical advances that he specifically told her made him extremely uncomfortable and were explicitly rejected immediately when they happened
- she repeatedly approached him from different conversational angles about this, trying to find a way around his NO
- she got drunk and kept trying to approach him, escalating her behavior
- she LITERALLY left a toxic relationship only days before, and is obviously looking for a life raft
And I told him yep, she just made my case files for examples of what NOT to do, and what NOT to tolerate.
Luckily for this girl, Jack is a stand-up guy who was raised with decent fricking morals and a high ethical conduct standard. He has plenty of platonic women friends, so he is NOT the issue. Again, I’ve known the guy since high school, and even back then he was a stand-up guy. This isn’t some asshole who there are whispers about his behavior. He’s still waiting for his divorce to be finalized and even then, he’s stated he’s not interested in a relationship (or a hook-up) with ANYONE right now. He KNOWS he needs to work on himself, he’s spent a decade in a toxic situation, and he’s made no secret about any of this, and Sue knows it.
He also added it was probably a good thing I did sleep through their return and her sobering up because he knows I would have gone “mom” on her and probably escalated the situation, because consent issues are one of my massive fucking triggers.
When I teach my BDSM101 classes, I specifically mention that “crazy” exists on BOTH sides of the D/s “slash,” and crosses all genders and orientations. When we talk predatory behavior, a lot of people immediately think older male Dom being a predator against a much younger female submissive, and yeah, that’s not uncommon.
This is a prime example of things I’ve seen before, of younger women, for whatever reason, not taking a fucking hint.
And to be quite honest, Jack was uncomfortable for a number of reasons in addition to the literal situation, because guys (especially of our generation–oh, fuckballs, I feel old saying that) are frequently conditioned to shrug off this kind of shit. Especially if it’s girl-on-guy advances. “Oh, what, you’re COMPLAINING a YOUNGER woman hit on you? I’d have been GLAD for that…”
For anyone who might say, “Well, Jack shouldn’t have gone to the event alone with her.” Well, why not? Any other rational person would have thought okay, I’ve made this clear, I’m the older and more mature person, I’m physically larger than her, this will be fine, there’s no reason to nuke the whole thing at the last minute, that’s probably an overreaction…
(In other words, don’t ask a woman what she was wearing, why didn’t she just ________? Don’t judge a fucking victim when there’s a reasonable expectation of a basic level of decent behavior.)
Again, this was a vanilla situation, and the girl is damned lucky he didn’t let her a) drive off drunk, b) leave her ass at the event, c) let her get out of the car in the literal fucking middle of nowhere, while drunk, in the middle of the fucking night, d) he didn’t take her up on her advances, use her, and discard her.
Or, e) do something worse to her.
And he’s tried to be a nice guy to her over the past several months because he did feel sorry for her, and again, while he’s not a “dad” the whole “dad” vibe thing going on in terms of the age difference, and considering the mutual friends and the activity they all do together, being a dick to her and telling her to fuck off (which he also has no trouble doing in other circumstances) was sort of a last-resort point he was hoping not to reach. He was trying to be a nice guy.
There are these societal conditioning factors in the US, especially with “older” guys (again, fuckballs, that makes me feel OLD saying it like that) trying to tell them that they don’t have #MeToo incidents. Or they get snickered at if it’s anything short of a full-on forcible anal rape by another man.
And that’s not right.
NO fucking means NO.
The lack of an EXPLICIT yes is automatically a NO.
This shit doesn’t just happen to women. If their positions had been reversed, there are probably zero people with an ounce of empathy in their consciences reading this who wouldn’t demand my friend be roasted over an open fire while ants devoured his honey-coated scrotum.
But I flat-out told him as he was describing all this to me, “What she did to you was a consent violation. PERIOD. It was technically sexual battery.” And he got really quiet and finally said, “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” And I proceeded to tell him what I just told all of you–I have literally ejected people from a BDSM club for far less than that. (And as we talked further he said yeah, feel free to use this as an example. Which is why I’m writing this now.)
And I also told him had this happened in a BDSM context, he could have resorted to saying, “Look, fucking RED—STOP IT.” And not a damn person in that context would have batted an eye at him doing that, and would have completely and immediately been on his side in this and supporting him and intervening on his behalf.
That’s why it PISSES ME OFF SO MUCH when I read contemporary BDSM fiction written by vanilla writers that glosses over or even romanticizes consent violations. (I’m talking contemporary fiction that’s supposed to be “realistic,” not the darker/dub-con, or SFF/paranormal kind of stuff.) Stories where the male Dom grabs an uncollared submissive and starts playing with her. Because in the REAL WORLD, that’s NOT how this shit works.
In the REAL WORLD, all of what happened above–be the recipient a man or a woman–is a consent violation. And had their situations been swapped, he literally could have ended the night in handcuffs for sexual battery. There is absolutely a double-standard.
I made the point to him that had he gone to the event’s security over what she was doing, they probably would have laughed at him for it, and he got quiet again and said yeah, I was right, they probably would have.
So what’s the takeaway from this? Sure, no physical harm happened to Jack (or Sue). But Jack is now put into a position where he will have to set extra boundaries into place with Sue and will no longer be able to be “friends” with her because of her behavior.
Because of her inability to respect a fucking NO.
Here’s a guy who’s trying to get through an already tough life situation to start with who is put into the position of having to not just second-guess himself, but third- and fourth-guess himself and his interactions going forward. And he shouldn’t have to.
Women everywhere are now nodding their heads at knowing that feeling all too fucking well.
NO means NO.
And Jack knows I’m the first person who’d call him out if I thought he’d fucked up, and yes, I’d warned him a few months back he might have to think about removing this girl from “friends” status because it sounded like she might try pushing boundaries. (Had I met her in person before this and felt the vibes coming off her then, I would have absolutely spoken up.) But at no time has he ever been ambiguous or waffled. And he didn’t want to just cut her off as a friend because of their mutual friends.
Flip that around for a moment.
Guys, can you see why “innocuous” comments to women can trigger negative reactions? If you’re not the first person, or even the third, but maybe the thirty-third that said something similar to her? For example: “Why don’t you smile?”
(Why don’t you go fuck yourself?)
I know there will be men (and maybe some women) reading this who probably will look down on Jack, thinking why is he complaining that a younger woman is hitting on him?
And they’re all missing the FUCKING point.
What if it was your little sister put into that position by a much older man? What if it was your DAUGHTER? Would it still be so funny? Probably not. (I’d fucking hope not, or I’d ask what the fuck is wrong with you.)
Consent FUCKING matters.
And it doesn’t matter if you’re an older guy, or a woman, or straight or gay or whatever you are–consent fucking matters.
NO means NO. It’s not some fucking Magic 8-Ball message of Try Again Later, or Signs Point to Maybe.
If they aren’t EXPLICITLY and enthusiastically telling you YES, automatically assume NO and stop fucking asking them.
And for fuck’s sake, stop perpetuating negative stereotypes that contribute to this kind of bullshit. Don’t give me that bullshit, either, “Well, does this mean I can’t say ANYTHING to my female friends if I’m a guy?”
NO. That’s NOT what that means, but if you have to seriously ask that question, it probably means you have been inappropriate with someone, and you should stop that shit.
In over 30 years, Jack and I have “joked” around with each other PLENTY of times and NEVER, not ONCE did either of us ever feel it was crossing a line into unwanted sexual advances. I know, because I specifically told him that in the course of this conversation, and also asked him if anything I’ve ever said/done made him feel uncomfortable, and he said no; and he also added that had I ever said or done anything like that, he would have told me so.
That’s a pretty damned decent track record, in my not-so-humble opinion.
NO means NO.
Lack of a YES means NO by default.
DEFAULT TO NO.