Thursday, May 25, 2006

A modest proposal

Enough with all the date-rape hysteria, already. Enough with the screaming, the outrage, the defensive indignation, and the hyperbole. Pretty Lady proposes a new solution. The legal phenomenon of 'no-fault divorce' is now prevalent; she suggests that this concept be extended to include 'no-fault rape.'

Stop your jumping up and down.

Pretty Lady was thinking, just this morning as she moodily vaccuumed, about the time she was vaguely violated by an acquaintance of hers. She has meditated for years upon the strange fact that she emerged from this experience virtually unscathed--physically, psychologically and emotionally. She has waited in vain for some suppressed outrage, misery or psychic scarring to erupt into her consciousness, and it never has done. After more than a decade, she must conclude that she was not, in fact, lastingly traumatized by the experience. An exasperated annoyance is the sum total of her negative associations with the man.

No, it is not Pretty Lady's intention to cast blame far and wide; she does not regard all men as potential violent criminals with the power to shatter her fragile self-regard with a single act of non-compliant intimacy. Neither does she pretend to despise those unfortunates whose experiences WERE genuinely scarring, requiring years of equally traumatic lawsuits and counselling to recover from. Her aim is, merely, to provide a little Inside Information as to the workings of the female mind, on behalf of all those beleaguered potential rapists out there.

Knowledge is power, in other words.

Now. Let it be known that in her late teens and early twenties, Pretty Lady was anything but a provocative dresser. (This is key; bear with me.) Having been psychologically warped by twelve years of classical ballet training, far more so than by any act of mere sexual violation, Pretty Lady was accustomed to regard her lithe, athletic and shapely figure as a monstrosity of inconvenient and unaesthetic bulges. Thus she habitually draped herself in tentlike, oversized garments, frequently obtained from the men's section of the Salvation Army. Likewise, she tended to scrape her long, shiny blonde hair into a tight braid, lest any untidy blowsiness mar the severity of her profile. Friends of that era say that they had no idea what sort of figure she had.

Even so, Pretty Lady did not noticeably lack for masculine attention, the masculine mind being an exceptionally imaginative one in some arenas. (She was once swarmed upon by a friend of her roommate, who confided that 'She looks like a classic librarian, except that if you took her glasses off and messed up her hair, you'd get Daryl Hannah.')

More than that, she tended to acquire packs of buddies. There were several years when she ran with the café crowd--a loosely associated tribe of useless intellectuals, alcoholics, avant-garde rock musicians, wastrels, and perpetual pretenders, who spent large portions of every day drinking too much coffee and smoking filterless Camels. Thus she had a large number of masculine acquaintances who argued Camus with her during the day, and picked esoteric fights with, or made aggrieved, drunken confessions to her, at night. (Once Christopher S. came up to her at a party and declared, "I can't impress you, Pretty Lady. Nothing I do impresses you." Pretty Lady was so naive at the time that it hadn't occurred to her that he'd been trying.)

The point she is making is that by the time Geoffrey W. called her up and invited her out to play pool, she'd known him in this context for quite some time. She'd never paid much attention to him, since he had neither much of a chin nor much of an intellect. But she had quite a good time dancing to his rock band at a co-op bash, and had to admit that he had a bit of talent. And at the time he made the call, he had grown aesthetically astute enough to grow a reddish beard, which balanced out his chinlessness.

Practically as soon as she'd settled onto a bar stool at Maggie's, Geoffrey W. let it be known why he'd called. "When I ran into you at the Chili Peppers, you had your hair down and these shorts on...". This ought to have been a Red Flag. It ought to have been a bigger Red Flag when he began whining about the fact that some provocatively dressed woman he'd met at a club in London refused to go home with him after ten minutes of conversation, "You should have SEEN how she was dressed," he grumbled, indignantly. Furthermore, at the pool table we ran into a young lady who seemed quite put out at seeing us together. "She thinks she's my girlfriend, but she's getting so damn possessive," he declared.

Yes, dear friends, Geoffrey W. was proving himself to be somewhat of an icky character.

Pretty Lady's problem was that she had too many male friends, and was far too accustomed to cutting them a lot of slack. She was Restraining Judgement; she was Being an Understanding Buddy. Plus, she'd been hanging out around Geoffrey in a non-dating context for such a long time that she wasn't inclined to make a 180-degree switch so quickly. Her interpretation of playing pool together was that she was getting to know her buddy better.

So when she pulled up in front of Geoffrey's house to drop him off (yes, she was driving), she was utterly unprepared for the speed with which he launched himself at her face. If he'd casually slipped an arm around her shoulders, she would have been ready with a polite, "Oh, Geoffrey, I'm so sorry, but it just isn't happening for me."

But Geoffrey moved like a killer cobra. One second she was bidding him goodbye with her hand on the gearshift, the next she was knawing on his teeth. A few moments after that she was performing some acts of technical virtuosity which Marian the Librarian never heard of.

She has no excuse for herself; of course a truly virtuous woman with ironclad self-esteem would have dealt Geoffrey an undercut to the jaw, and bitten down on his knacker as soon as it made its appearance. But as she explained at first, this story is not about blame. This is to give you gentlemen some insight as to what goes through a lady's mind in this sort of circumstance.

What went through Pretty Lady's mind was, "Maybe I sent the wrong signal without realizing it. Better give him what he wants, and get rid of him without a fuss."

You see, boys, women are Relational. We perceive all sorts of subtle cues in people's behavior which men are biologically blind to; we feel it is our duty to keep things running smoothly. When an untoward situation occurs, then, we are inclined to Blame Ourselves. If the boy misbehaves, we assume it is because we failed to steer him properly. Or at least Pretty Lady, deep in the throes of undiagnosed codependency, made this assumption.

Now, the end of this story is simply that Pretty Lady gave Geoffrey some of what he was after, in exasperation and contempt, and drove away, feeling that he was rather icky. She had no Great Revelation years later; she did not track him down and take him to court. Upon mulling it over, she decided that she needed to avoid fellows like Geoffrey, perhaps speaking up, or even walking out, a little sooner when they made icky comments.

But this is because Pretty Lady likes herself, she likes men, and believes that in most situations, miscommunications are mutual. Problems arise when two people enter into an interaction bringing radically different assumptions with them. The solution is improved communication, not wild, hysterical blame.

19 comments:

rlh said...

Severe pain would have sent Geoffry off with a fright. Hence that is a problem, women tend to be weaker physically then men.

My sister used to carry a knife with her. When some clown pulled something and wouldn't take no for an answer, he would however take a jab in the groin with a knife as a very good answer of NO!

But I think I am a bit off course...

Whatever happened to common decency? Where men are Gentlemen and women are Ladies. Save sex for marriage. I know, I know, there are a million excuses to have it before marriage, and not very many to save it.

With sex come a huge amount of large emotions, for women AND men.
If they are of decent and moral character. If you don't, it is a sin. Men should not ever view women as a sex object. That is just plain warped. The Bible tells men to love their wives. Why? Because women have a deep need for love. The Bible also tells woment o submit to their husbands. That is NOT slavery and they should never be treated as a slave. However, if a man shows her respect, caring, interest, companionship, honor and defends her to the death, you know all those things that come when a man truely loves a women. He will find she will be submitting to him already. He will be the luckiest creature on the planet. She will think she is the luckiest, But he is definetly the one who recieves more from her then him from her.

Does this make sense?

prettylady said...

Yes, it makes complete sense, dear Rlh. Would that Pretty Lady were so lucky.

She also agrees with you about jabs in the groin, except that then there is all that tedious mopping up and explaining to do. Her deepest character flaw may truly be laziness.

Morgan said...

Pretty Lady, I've had similar experiences. I was lucky that fate intervened and I escaped with (ahem) my virtue. But they were scary indeed.

Like you, I haven't suffered ill effects from the experiences, though.

I learned pretty quickly that what a woman may consider harmless flirtation a man may perceive as an invitation, with subsequent resistance being viewed as part of the "game."

My own husband told me of a disturbing experience with a couple of women who said "no," and then became offended when he took them literally.

It's a frustrating truth that some women want to be quasi-forced, possibly as fantasy play or because to feel "taken" alleviates themselves of the guilt of giving it up.

But this is a dangerous game for women to play. It not only puts them at risk, but also sends messages to men that "no" is simply a temporary demuring intended to spur the guy to push a bit harder.

A smart man is one who would disappoint the woman in bed by honoring even a less-than-sincere "no" rather than take a chance that she may remember the refusal as sincere and later cry rape.

prettylady said...

It's a frustrating truth that some women want to be quasi-forced, possibly as fantasy play or because to feel "taken" alleviates themselves of the guilt of giving it up.

You see, this is a problem that the Sex Radicals have all tied up, so to speak. Sex Radicalism has very strict rules, among them the frank discussion of one's fantasies beforehand, and a system of 'safe words' that one uses to convey that one really, really means 'stop.'

But this requires actually taking responsibility for one's sexuality, which isn't something that many normal people feel comfortable with.

The completely ridiculous thing about the above story is that even now, the fellow in question doesn't realize that the act was not consensual. Pretty Lady was so concerned with not making waves within her social circle that she pretended it was fine all along.

He did sort of sense that she thought he was icky, though. Terrible blow to his ego. :-)

Morgan said...

"You see, this is a problem that the Sex Radicals have all tied up, so to speak."

*grin*

"Sex Radicalism has very strict rules, among them the frank discussion of one's fantasies beforehand, and a system of 'safe words' that one uses to convey that one really, really means 'stop.'"

In a perfect world, this is how it would be. Safe words are wonderful things, even for monogamous couples who like to play a bit rough. Not that I know anyone like that.

But I'm afraid the Sex Radicals' lofty vision won't be realized. The thing about fantasies is that to "work" for some people they have to feel real, and to discuss them beforehand takes the fun out of it for people who automatically assume their partner should be vested with the gift of reading subtle sexual cues.

If the fantasy involves being dominated, the woman needs to comes terms with her desires and be honest about expressing them. If not, she might find herself subconsciously goading the guy into doing it, which can be traumatic for a guy who isn't into that sort of thing, and traumatic for her if he goes overboard.

I'm not familiar with the Sex Radicals, other than what I've read on your blog. But it sounds like they are giving out some pretty sound advice.

Starwind said...

Pretty Lady writes:

But this is because Pretty Lady likes herself, she likes men, and believes that in most situations, miscommunications are mutual. Problems arise when two people enter into an interaction bringing radically different assumptions with them. The solution is improved communication, not wild, hysterical blame.

I would argue, respectfully, the problem is not two people with radically different assumptions, the problem is two radically different people assuming they can "communicate". The solution is neither hysterical blame nor improved communication; the solution is improved selection.

Pretty, pretty lady (sigh). You write often and compellingly of your unsatisfactory relationships and one wonders "why does she keep doing that?" You often allude to a post-mortem epiphany of what went awry and the clues, yet such seldom seems to translate into foreknowledge and avoidance (judging solely by your recent writings).

Out of curiosity, might you compose a few discourses on relationships that 'worked out well' for you, why you thought they did, and why they ended?

Criminologists and profilers often boast of 'understanding the criminal mind'. Fact is they only understand the minds of criminals who have been caught. You have an understanding of men who treat you poorly. Do you know, at a comparable level qualitatively and quantitatively, men who treat you well?

prettylady said...

one wonders "why does she keep doing that?"

CODEPENDENCY. Duh. One hates to quote oneself, but I will do so:

You see, boys, women are Relational... we feel it is our duty to keep things running smoothly. When an untoward situation occurs, then, we are inclined to Blame Ourselves. If the boy misbehaves, we assume it is because we failed to steer him properly.

It has only recently dawned upon Pretty Lady, within the last couple of years, that she, personally, is not reponsible for keeping the globe in its orbit. She doesn't know where or how she acquired this sense of crushing responsibility; she suspects it has something to do with being the eldest child of two overachieving eldest children, but psychological analysis probably doesn't interest you.

might you compose a few discourses on relationships that 'worked out well' for you

If they had, they wouldn't have ended, would they?

Do you know, at a comparable level qualitatively and quantitatively, men who treat you well?

My father, my brother, a few good and happily married friends. Men with whom there is little to no sexual tension, in other words. Figures.

Starwind said...

Pretty Lady;
CODEPENDENCY. Duh. One hates to quote oneself, but I will do so: You see, boys, women are Relational... we feel it is our duty to keep things running smoothly. When an untoward situation occurs, then, we are inclined to Blame Ourselves. If the boy misbehaves, we assume it is because we failed to steer him properly.

You seem to understand the root problem (codependancy) well enough. Why is the lesson not learned? What compels you to select enablers? Surely you recognize a 'project' early on - that PL intuition to sense a 'bad boy', the 'sexual tension'. Do not alarms ring and warnings flash - mentally, emotionally? Are you surprised every time or are those relationships somehow a comfort zone, familiar ground; better the 'project' relationship you know than risk the unknown?

If [relationships had 'worked out well'], they wouldn't have ended, would they?

Don't measure 'worked out well' as never ending - hell and heaven never end, but they work out differently. Understandably, a codependant might feel compelled to sustain an unhealthy relationship indefinitely; to take responsibility that it never end. Therein lies a problem.

But many good relationships can and do end. Hopefully, the ideal/best would never end. Surely you must have some good romantic relationships with men who treated you well. Have there really been none you could describe :)

prettylady said...

Why is the lesson not learned?

It is. Why do you think Pretty Lady isn't dating NOW?

Do not alarms ring and warnings flash - mentally, emotionally?

Why, I asked, do you think she's not dating, now?

Surely you must have some good romantic relationships with men who treated you well.

Try this.

Growl.

Starwind said...

Pretty Lady;

Try this.:
And Pretty Lady, fool that she is, almost passed him by. "Not my type," she sniffed, at first. "Too Nice. Too Normal. Too mechanical and bland." But her hand knew better. Every time the phone rang, her hand fetched the phone of its own accord, without Pretty Lady's conscious permission. Thus when the Frenchman called, inviting her skiing in Tahoe, she accepted in spite of herself.

Why do you think Pretty Lady isn't dating NOW?

Let me hazard a guess; "Not Your Type. Too Nice. Too Normal. Too mechanical and bland." and no "sexual tension"?

prettylady said...

Starwind, may I RESPECTFULLY ask you to MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS???

Starwind said...

Pretty Lady;

Starwind, may I RESPECTFULLY ask you to MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS???

I apologize for having misunderstood where the boundaries are. I certainly will respect your stated wishes.

rlh said...

PL, you do have a line in the sand.

Took a while to find it though.

All I have to say now is that ALL relationships end. Even the "successful" marriages end. In the commitments prounounced in the Bible for a marriage, one of the vows is untill death do you part. when one of them dies, you are no longer married. You probably won't be married in the next life.

No relationship the one you have with God.

rlh said...

"No relationship the one you have with God. " Huh? What was that supposed to say?


No relationship on this earth will last forever. Only the one you have with God.

(Wow, engage brain before typing.. sorry)

The Aardvark said...

Take care, Pretty Lady, lest the moonbats hear the sound of jackboots in your musings.

Take responsibility for oneself?
Outrageous!

Anonymous said...

Pretty Lady, you remind me, quite often, of the sexiest song in the English language:

"your mind/and your experience
call to me
you have lived/and your intelligence
is sexy
I wanna know/what you have to say. . ."

Not that, I'm, you know, a Godless dyke or anything. I just think you're teh bomb ;)

prettylady said...

Well, Anon, if you're not a Godless dyke, who ARE you? And what's 'the bomb'? Sadly, I seem to be derelict in my understanding of the latest slang.

And I'm not entirely sure what moonbats or jackboots are, either, but if anyone is wondering if Pretty Lady is a closet dominatrix or anything, the answer is a resounding, emphatic, tried-and-tested NO.

The Aardvark said...

No, PL...I was referring to the Recent Unpleasantness over using historical examples over at Popoli's.

That's all.

--the aardvark

prettylady said...

I was referring to the Recent Unpleasantness over using historical examples over at Popoli's.

Hmph. Pretty Lady had forgotten about that. She didn't see it so much as Unpleasantness, as a rather disingenuous form of moonbat-baiting. Pretty Lady likes to think herself above such tactics, but then, she has ever been drawn to the more questionable elements, so perhaps she has no call to comment.