Julia didn’t write a word about sexual assault and neither did I. We were focused specifically on women being free to say “no” clearly, and without mixed signals.

In your latest response, you agreed with and elaborated on my original point:

Does our culture encourage and even almost require men to persist in order to be considered “masculine,” “overcome” women’s resistance, or win a woman who feels she has to be reluctant to be respected? Yes it does. Does our culture encourage and even almost require women to play the reluctant innocent who always “opens negotiations” by saying No? Yes it does.

Why start your response with “that’s kinda horrifying” and then introduce a completely different subject? “Horrifying” is a very strong emotional word, and implies judgment on your part. I think most people would perceive it as being an attack and not a conversation.

When you ask:

Are these patterns we wish to perpetuate and reinforce and continue, especially in the face of the epidemic that is sexual assault in this country?

I totally agree with you that these patterns should not continue.

With respect to you “observation” on my example of differing communication styles, perhaps you should read the research done by Dr. Tannen, an expert in linguistics. If we’re going to have a rational conversation, we have to look at scientific data instead of one person’s anecdotal evidence.

We probably are in agreement on most things, but how they were expressed and interpreted came out very differently.

I tried to explain things from a man’s perspective, without making any claim that it was the right way or the only way to do things. I asked Julia B to explain her thoughts and interpretations from a woman’s perspective. I agreed with her point about feeling free to express herself. I supported her right to be forceful when she needed to, instead of worrying about some stranger’s feelings. And I advocated that every person needs to understand and respect the differences between men and women.

And if I point out specific areas where I agree or disagree. To me, that represents a respectful conversation.

You, on the other hand, femsplain me on how men think: “the narrative of the persistent male, in which behaviors up to and including verbal attacks and harassment are considered romantic and perfectly acceptable.” Whose narrative? How many men have ever told you this? How many men behave this way? Do you have even one study to substantiate this claim, besides the anecdotal experience of you and your friends? I certainly know a number of men who do not behave in this way.

“Men can accept both Yes and No without having their masculinity doubted or attacked.” Where in the world does this idea come from? Are you talking about macho culture in South America? How many American men have talked about their masculinity being doubted? This sounds like your own personal projection and nothing else.

You also seem very content making decisions for other people, judging suitable partners, dismissing others:

If a woman says No and the man accepts it, and she feels like he’s not interested, they’ve just both saved themselves some time: He’s clearly not looking for someone with whom he has to be psychic, and she’s not looking for someone with whom she has to be direct. These are unhealthy patterns and it’s good that that one ended before it started.

Seriously? You’re the judge arbiter of whether a relationship should begin or end?

If a person is ready to hear and accept Yes (Yes, I’ll have sex with you; yes, I’d like a drink; yes, you can sit here) then he also needs to be equally ready to hear and accept No. If a woman says No and the results aren’t what she wanted, she’ll either change, or look for someone who is willing to play games of being psychic with her. And that, right there, is what leads to all kinds of problems.

I don’t know, maybe you think you’re being a helpful fairy godmother. I see it as incredibly arrogant to determine what is right and wrong for each individual. Without being able to explore and make mistakes, people are not able to grow and mature.

Finally, thank you for being honest in describing your personal agenda. I agree with you that sexual assault is a big problem. I also recognize that it is a trigger issue for many survivors. If you number among them, it goes a long way to explaining why you took my comments out of context and went off on a complete tangent while expressing so much emotion and judgement.


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Ad agency creative director, writer & designer at https://guttmanshapiro.com. Former pro tennis player and peak performance coach for professional athletes.

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