Yes, there is risk of disappointing the person who wants to have sex with you by saying what you don’t want to have sex. But let’s face it, disappointment is coming for this person, or, it will come to you. So there’s only upside in being more clear.

As a guy, I agree that if I wanted to tell a woman I actually don’t want to have sex, I think the worst thing I’d have to deal with is disappointment. But that’s not the worst thing a woman in the same situation has to deal with. No, she has to deal with the very real possibility of attempted rape or flat out violence. Those things are fairly prevalent — more prevalent than home invasions in the suburbs, and yet we don’t call people who get security systems crazy.

So, no, there’s not only upside in being clear. In fact, quite a few accounts of rape include a woman being clear — saying “no” loudly, screaming, etc. Now, I’m not saying that just allowing a man to have sex with you despite you not wanting to is preferable to clearly saying “no” clearly. What I am saying is that it is perfectly reasonable for a woman to be scared of clearly saying no, and trying to find another way out — however unlikely that may be.

But slow it down almost never means stop. It means decrease the speed. Why risk the person thinking “They like this, slow it down and make it last longer,” when you really mean “I don’t want this?”

Maybe you don’t know how to be both friendly and clear.

Right, “slow down” doesn’t mean stop. But that’s not the point. The point is that she probably does mean that she wants to do something, but just not now. I don’t know about you, but when I walk onto a used car lot, I sure do want to buy a car, but not right away. So the salesman who rushes up to me and tries to make me buy a car before I’m ready? He’s being pushy and an asshole. Same thing applies to a guy trying to rush a woman into sex too soon. The fact that she wants to have sex with you eventually doesn’t make you any less of an asshole when you’re pushing her to have sex sooner.

Grace has problems too. We can talk about the reasons why she didn’t speak up, but one day she may feel she deserves more money for the job she’s working, or she may not like how her food was cooked, or maybe she wants to marry a guy and he’s not pulling the trigger. We’re all learning.

I don’t know, I guess in any assault, the assaulted could have always fought a bit harder to not get assaulted, right? Sure, but that doesn’t do much to counter the argument that the people who assaulted the other people assaulted them, which is wrong. The victim can at worst be accused of being meek or fearful. Last time I checked, that wasn’t a crime. But assault is a crime.

I know you’re trying to lay out analogies where seemingly women need to be more attuned to needs as well. I get that, but they’re not analogies for sex and sexual assault. This is a case where men are — whether we men like it or not — part of a group that has a lot of members on the wrong side. It doesn’t mean that each of us is evil. All it means is that we just have to work harder on something involving emotional intelligence, and sometimes sacrifice not getting laid just to err on the side of caution and preserve someone’s feelings. I could think of harder sacrifices.

Equality is equality of standards and expectations for both men and women. We are looking closer at men’s lives than ever before. Yes! It’s about time. More power to women I say. But we don’t achieve this by taking a woman’s responsibility to speak and giving it to a man.

Sure, equality is equality. But equality doesn’t mean “sameness”. Women have a different role in sexual contexts than men. In 9 out 10 cases, men are more physically powerful than women, and there is a visceral fear that women have of men in sexual situations. So, yes, while there should be equality in the importance of each role and expectations, there should not be a corresponding sameness. Expecting that is actually part of the problem with getting the message of feminism across to a wider audience.

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Author of “The Wabi-Sabi Way” and “Be, Think, Do”. Subscribe to my newsletter “Woolgathering”:

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