Outlawed: Pursuing a Woman
March 14, 2018
Like all of us in the throes of #MeToo, I have been taking rigorous inventory of my sexual history, rolling back the tape on past highs and lows: the disturbing teenage experiences no longer chalked up to miscommunication, those times I gave in because it was easier, some unwanted advance successfully fended off.
And then there are the memories of being brusquely, and without permission, pushed up against a wall -- and loving it. In fact, those were the steamiest moments I could recall. I wondered if I would ever experience such an unscripted embrace again -- and then immediately worried: Did my secret desires make me a traitor to #MeToo and what it stands for?
No, according to Michaela Boehm, a sex and intimacy therapist, and psychologist; they make me pretty normal.
Her 25 years as a counselor have taught her what many women and men privately know, but are now too afraid to admit -- the same truth that the success of "Fifty Shades of Grey" tells: Many women like to be dominated in bed. "Not in their lifestyle, not in their career, but in the bedroom, many women would like to surrender," Dr. Boehm said. This may explain why, on Amazon's list of best-selling erotica -- a medium that, unlike pornography, is mostly produced and enjoyed by women -- themes of male dominance tend to, well, dominate.
Theories differ on whether this preference is a result of societal norms or biology or both. But it's interesting to note that separate research conducted by the sexologists Meredith Chivers and Marta Meana supports the idea that biology plays a supporting role. Moreover, a 2009 study by Patricia H. Hawley at the University of Kansas found that the more socially dominant a woman was, the more likely she was to enjoy fantasies of sexual submission.
The last thing a woman wants to be worrying about while in the heat of the moment is whether her arousal is an expression of her own distinct eroticism or a symptom of patriarchal oppression. Yet, in the #MeToo landscape, many 30-and-under women and men -- including me -- are finding it harder to untease the two as we navigate dating and fledgling relationships. In a surprising twist, what began as a very public airing of powerful men's sexual misconduct has come to cast a certain sinister pall over private intimacies that once seemed perfectly O.K. to enjoy....
A rape survivor, Ms. Rand is well versed in feminist theory; she understands just how important and vital a shift such behavior from a young man is when it comes to casual sex. Yet, in practice, she had mixed feelings. "It's difficult because on the one hand you're like, 'Dude, if I didn't want it, I would stop you,'" she said. "On the other hand, that can be used against you if it was assault."
...The #MeToo movement has upended a number of old so-called rules that allowed powerful men to force their desire on women whose silence they could count on. Now we have new rules, and, when it comes to sexual harassment or workplace gender discrimination, this can only be a good thing.
However, the concept of prescriptive, universal guidelines is anathema to truly mind-bending sex. So is codifying it into a moral or political act. Doing so turns the bedroom into a court of public opinion -- one in which, as our inscrutable desires inevitably lure us into untested territory, both parties will leave feeling shamed. We don't need different rules; we need two empowered individuals liberated and secure enough to explore each other's impulses, to listen to each other, and ask for what they want -- even if that includes permission to not ask for what comes next.
First Comment from Nick:
This young woman's account neatly illustrates the way women nowadays have been conditioned to believe they can have the best of all worlds with none of the downside. Yet life is inevitably about tradeoffs and balancing advantages and disadvantages of different states of affairs. If women expect men to take the initiative and generally respond better to sexually aggressive men, this will tend to increase the number of situations where women are subject to unwanted sexual advances. On the other hand, if society heads in the current direction of demonizing male heterosexuality and adopting broad definitions of harassment or abuse, more men to avoid women and some women will be affected by a lack of male attention. There are tradeoffs, and you cannot always have the best of all worlds.
"...The #MeToo movement has upended a number of old so-called rules that allowed powerful men to force their desire on women whose silence they could count on. Now we have new rules, and, when it comes to sexual harassment or workplace gender discrimination, this can only be a good thing."
By her own admission, women tend to respond well to sexually aggressive, entitled men. Yet how dare high status, successful men feel entitled to women! As with most feminism, this is about women being at war with innate female biology and psychology while pretending to be at war with inequitable societal structures. The truth is that evolution and natural selection has disposed women to respond well to certain aggressive or antisocial behavior in men. On some level, women are ambivalent about this. Yet it is easier to project these things onto society and men in general instead of accepting responsibility for their own role in this.