Women as Children: Why the “Seduction as Rape” Philosophy is a tad Problematic

I was reading this, when I once again came dangerously close to ruining my keyboard through spillage. Behold:

[one of the definitions of rape is] seduction: when a man persuades a woman to have sex with him, often subtly, through being kind, polite, chivalrous, etc;

Just in case you are mystified – what Maggie Hays is essentially saying is that a woman who is turned on, say, by the sight of her man cooking a delicious lunch and tackles him halfway through, is, in fact, a rape victim.

Of course, she has Andrea Dworkin to back her up: “Seduction is often difficult to distinguish from rape.”

Oooh. That’s right. Us little ladies are so confused by our own sexual desires that we couldn’t possibly know what it is we want. At all. Better to lock us all up so we remain virginal and pure, singing songs to the Mother Goddess in our pristine convents, enjoying apolitical lesbian-sister love (but not in that way), unexposed to the beastly predilections of men.

no words can do Maggie justice, but i try…

*the sound you hear is me choking on my coffee*


Okay then.

The above thinking is actually a direct extension of patriarchal and demeaning standards used against women throughout this great, big, horrible world of ours. I was reading some interviews done in Saudi Arabia a few years back – on the subject of women potentially getting the right to vote – and something that jumped out at me was a woman who was quoted as saying that women couldn’t possibly be allowed to vote, they’re far too easily charmed and lead on by men, after all. Maggie? Andrea? I think I may have found your ideological twin.

The thing about seduction is – of course it can end up with you making choices that you may later regret. This goes for men and women. How many of us haven’t been charmed by a person who turned out to be a scumbag or asshole in one way or another? But the key word here is “choice.” I’m sorry, but the very definition of rape implies the absence of choice, one way or another.

Seduction is not coercion. A man who makes you feel like wringing out your panties is not a rapist by definition. Why the hell do I even need to point this out to anyone?

This is why I’m so bloody tired of Andrea Dworkin, whom I’ve always read as having a bitter disdain for most women (perhaps because she viewed most women as beneath her, intellectually), being venerated as some sort of Feminist Saint looking down on us from Mother Goddess Heaven, wagging her disapproving finger at our ways. Because while she said a lot of very good things, she has also made statements dumbass enough to make Homer Simpson cringe. The above quote is no exception.

This entire thing is bigger than Dworkin and the bloggers who kneel at her temple, of course. This is an issue of how society ought to treat women – as adults? Or as children?

Men who wish to restrict women’s rights are big propagators of the myth of women’s intellectual and psychological inferiority. They, like Maggie, believe that women simply don’t know what’s good for them, ever.

Jean-Luc questions his choices
Jean-Luc questions his choices

If you’re an adult, I’m willing to bet that somehow, somewhere, you have heard a guy casually utter some variation of the following phrase:

“Dude, I shouldn’t have slept with her.”

Do you get concerned for a guy’s mental abilities when he makes a statement like that? Or do you clap him on the back with a measure of sympathy, and buy the next round, and, if you’re a good friend, ask to hear more if he feels like discussing it?

I remember coming home to my dorm one night in my freshman year of college. I had gone to a screening in another town, on a film review assignment. Admittedly, while I watched some of that movie, the better part of the screening was spent passing Life Savers mouth-to-mouth with the guy who had accompanied me. He was very cute, but he wasn’t what I needed in my life then, for several very good reasons. And my entire film review turned out to be one dirty pun. The editors liked it, but I wasn’t pleased with myself.

“Crap,” I announced to my roommate. “I made out with X. Here are roughly a billion reasons why that was incredibly dumb. What’s wrong with me?”

“Not your best, honey,” my roommate said without glancing up from the various Instant Messenger windows on her laptop. “Not your best.”

And that was about it. I popped the remaining Life Saver into my mouth and went to work on my Biological Anthropology & Anatomy homework.

Imagine what would have happened had my roommate began running around and flapping her arms like a chicken, screeching about me having been violated by a monstrous beast, throwing water on my face with one hand and dialing 911 with another. I don’t think I would have been able to handle that. I think I would have had to barricade myself in the girl’s bathroom and sustain myself on a diet of toothpaste for at least a day or two. That would have been the saner option.

It’s true that women are “supposed” to regret their bad choices more than men — because we are punished more harshly for them. What Maggie Hays is doing is essentially perpetuating this idiotic double standard, and turning around and calling it feminist.

somebody tell Laura Mercier that the little ladies couldn’t possibly seduce anyone

The other ridiculous assumption being made here is that a woman couldn’t possibly go out of her way to seduce a man.

That’s right. The many times that you and I have done this, girls, we were:

a) Blinded by the Patriarchy’s shiny penis and unable to understand what it was we were doing, b) We were, in fact, raping ourselves, or c) We were unknowingly replicating the behaviour of evil, dirty males, forever compromising our precious feminine purity. Well, I’m glad all of that has been cleared up!

This is disgusting, because it’s a huge trivialization of rape. It’s like those people you sometimes meet, the people who can’t handle anyone disagreeing with them ever, so they say things like: “Stop talking to me! Stop assaulting me with your disagreeable rhetoric! You’re no better than a rapist!” (yes, people like that do exist. I seem to recall that Maggie Hays is one of them.)

Imagine this scenario: imagine if I was in that dark movie theater with Mr. X, and Mr. X randomly decided to stick his hand down my blouse. Just like that. A violent, bizarre titty-grab of the sort I have actually experienced elsewhere.

That would have been pretty horrible, no?

Meanwhile, me flirting with him for the entire car ride and half the movie, and then letting my tongue slip past his lips with a half-done Life Saver in tow, now THAT is a crime. He was forcing his pretty eyes and sly smile onto me, you see.

not that sexy, actually
not that sexy, actually

I get how seduction can cross over into all sorts of unpleasant, and potentially criminal territory. This is especially true of inexperienced and/or vulnerable women (and men) who meet someone who charms them to the point of complete surrender, and end up in a dangerous situation as the result. For example, if you’re using copious amounts of alcohol to seduce anyone – you’re in rapist realm, asshole. A lot of people still don’t get that. A lot of people still say, “She was passed out, so where’s the crime?”

Victims of the evil kind of seduction can often change their mind halfway through. But if they say “no,” their seducer pretends not to hear them. That’s rape.

Laws that say nobody can change their mind are especially dangerous in this regard. I have previously mentioned a situation which turned rather grim for me when a guy I was with, and had really liked up until that moment, started physically hurting me. I asked him to stop. He ignored me. I told him to get the hell away from me. Grudgingly, he complied, and proceeded to tell me that I was lucky he was such a “nice guy,” that most men wouldn’t have stopped.

I taste a little bile in the back of my throat when I do as little as merely think about that night, today. [An update from 2019 — A little over a year after I wrote this post, a friend I had liked and trusted had raped me in this precise fashion, after inviting me to a party. A woman’s “no” held no meaning to him once the door was closed. So, you see, I know exactly what I’m talking about]

And don’t even get me started on economic coercion of women (and men), who, for example, are worried about job security. “Seduction” of an underling who fears for their livelihood is a very old story — and it’s not actual seduction.

"Stupid Girls" - not just a pop single anymore!
“Stupid Girls” – not just a pop single anymore!

But straight-up seduction assumes that women are still, y’know, grown-ups. When the guy from the previous anecdote invited me up to his flat, a year or so after we had first met, mind you, was I being assaulted as I considered it? No, I was happy. I had wanted him since the first time I met him, all those months ago, and thought I knew him well.

Frighteningly, the logic of Maggie Hays and Andrea Dworkin essentially implies that I could have known what was happening. I was being seduced, after all. If only I had been hip to what seduction actually means! I would have been a good girl, I would have never climbed those stairs and kissed him in the darkness of his miserable little kitchenette. Ah, if only the radical feminists had gotten to me first.

Human sexuality strays into real darkness all the time. More often than not, it is women who become victims of this darkness in one way or another. Violent rape is just the tip of the iceberg, really, when you think about it.

But the answer to this is not claiming that women can’t possibly make the decision to go to bed with someone. Jay-sus. How about we actually look at laws and law enforcement that still allow rape to take place instead? You know, keep the anti-rape cause as something that isn’t exactly ridiculous? Or would that be too strenuous?

"thanks for shopping with us, ma'm... oops, i guess you're a rape statistic now"
“thanks for shopping with us, ma’m… OW!!!”

I find it interesting that Maggie Hays even goes as far as include basic POLITENESS under that vast umbrella of rape. Does she head-butt every male store-clerk who tells her to “have a nice day” after he bags her groceries? It would only be logical.

Once again, I leave you with a question:

Why does ANYONE still wonder as to HOW this particular brand of ideology has become so damn IRRELEVANT?

I sure don’t. If you need me, I’ll be somewhere with Jean-Luc. Facepalming.

57 thoughts on “Women as Children: Why the “Seduction as Rape” Philosophy is a tad Problematic

  1. natalia – i don’t want to be the one who says this, but your case is a good illustration for why someone like maggie hays may be right (not in the way she thinks however). if you were not blinded by attraction, you would not have ended up in the “kitchenette”. i am not saying that you have to shoulder all the blame for what happened, but you should consider hays’s point. it’s very hard for a man to stop. most women realize this, so they make prudent sexual choices. this is why the arab culture that you are criticizing on your blog makes some sense. this is just another example of the failure of the “women’s empowerement.”

  2. Ahhh…simply, NO, Cranky. Hell to the no.

    It is NOT hard for a man to stop when a woman says “NO” to his advances: the overwhelming majority of men do so all the time.

    It is not “being blinded by attraction” that leads women into situations of being raped or otherwise sexually assaulted; it is the actions of individual attempted rapists.

    And as for the “Arab culture” ( I take that to mean, fundamentalist Islamic culture, I guess??? Having a racist moment, are we, Cranky, in conflating Arab people with Muslim fundamentalism???) allowing women to make “prudent sexual decisions”….well, look at how successful that has been in preventing women from being raped and assaulted. As in…not very bloody successful.

    The problem is not “women’s empowerment”; it’s society’s misogyny and open hostility to women who defy conventional standards of sexuality. And it’s pseudo-“radicalfeminists” like Maggie Hays who trap women as much in repression as her vaunted rival “the patriarchy” does.

    Sell your MRA bullshit somewhere else.


  3. Cranky, you’ve really outdone yourself, love.

    You really hate men, don’t you? Considering how you think it’s “hard” for a man to stop when a woman is asking him to with tears in her eyes.

    And what is this magical “Arab culture” that I am supposedly criticizing again? Anthony’s right – you’re having another racist moment. Pointing out that a Saudi Arabian woman was dead wrong in her comments, no matter how well-intentioned they may have been, now amounts to making blanket statements about “Arab culture”? That’s your territory. Considering the fact that you keep insisting that all Arabs everywhere are the same like the Borg.

    And do me a favour – don’t lump Maggie Hays in with your blatant rape cheerleading. I have some pretty major disagreements with her ideology, which I consider both wrong and dangerous, but she is not a rape apologist like you are. In fact, I believe she survived a rape herself. So drop it, asshole.

  4. I get the impression that cranky liberal doesn’t actual know what “liberal” means, either in its modern or classical definition.

  5. i dont care how much you were ‘blinded by attraction’ you were, when you told him to stop he should have stopped, end of story, and im sorry but it came across to me as if cranky was almost blaming you for being a silly little girl. he was totally in the wrong, he should have gotten off you and said sorry, not guilt tripped you because he was a ‘nice guy’ he was a twat, and im going to stop before i say something i should not cos this has made me very angry


  6. it’s very hard for a man to stop

    either you’re dead wrong, or i’m not a man.

    (checks pants)

    you’re dead wrong.

  7. I honestly get sick of this kind of crap (Dworkin, McKinnon, Maggie, et al) coming from people who call themselves feminists.

    We’re all grown-ups. If you F*** someone and feel bad/guilty about it later that’s your own lookout. What Dworkin won’t say, and I will, is that an awful lot of so-called “rape” charges are exactly what she is claiming: A grown woman made a choice she regretted and then cried rape. It’s been especially common historically with white women and black men. A consensual act of sex occurs, the white woman feels guilty or is found out, and then cries rape, and the black man goes to prison.

    But I guess that little item, documented consistently for a very long time, might interfere with ideology so it doesn’t count.

    You nailed it Natalia. If you go to bed with someone because they make you wildly hot, it’s seduction. If they drug you or force you, it’s rape. Period.

    How does Dworkin et al ever expect women to be taken seriously when they consistently take positions like “women aren’t responsible for being sexually attracted to men and sleeping with them” or “Women can’t hear a ‘bad word’ at work lest they crumple into pieces because they are so ‘specially delicate?”

  8. I wouldn’t say that an “awful lot” of rape charges stem from this, I disagree completely, but I would agree that this has some seriously messed-up historical connotations in regards to race (and class, and ethnicity), both in the U.S. and beyond. And it also goes beyond history, of course, it spills over into the modern-day world. I am terrified by the possibility of skinhead attacks in Ukraine, for example – because a “scary dark man” with a Slavic woman like me must be nothing short of a rapist, to them.

    In Ivan Bunin’s book, “The Life of Arsenyev,” which has a lot of autobiography to it, there is an interesting episode wherein the Russian protagonist is cheating on his girlfriend with a “local Ukrainian girl,” as he puts it. It’s pure sex – she isn’t interested in him in any other way, and he isn’t interested in her either. He’s aware that the Ukrainian boys in the village will tear him to shreds if what’s happening is actually reported. Now, in the case of a Russian guy, he is coming from a place of power – but still feels vulnerable, and is probably right to feel this way.

    I found that chapter fascinating – and extremely disturbing. I keep going back to it.

  9. the white woman feels guilty or is found out, and then cries rape, and the black man goes to prison.

    Goes to prison – or is murdered.

    Another thing that ties into this, I think, is how society still views women’s bodies as chattel. It comes down to “you’re defiling our women” or “I am being defiled (even though I really wanted it, but I have to gloss over that).”

    It’s so screwed up, because it results in women actively participating in the grim charade of defining themselves as mere vessels.

  10. Grrr. This shits me.

    It is a very valid goal of many kinds of feminism to expand the definition of rape. Many of us (women, feminists, rape survivors, etc) feel that the current accepted definition is too narrow: sex obtained by force is rape, but sex obtained by coercion, implied threats, breaking down of one partner’s will, and so many other examples is not.

    This shit Maggie Hayes is pulling? Takes that to a ridiculous extreme, leaving the extreme easily condemned. The result is that all of that feminist work is lumped in with her bullshit.

  11. Hi, Natalia!


    Many of us (women, feminists, rape survivors, etc) feel that the current accepted definition is too narrow: sex obtained by force is rape, but sex obtained by coercion, implied threats, breaking down of one partner’s will, and so many other examples is not.

    Yeah, exactly.

    I am probably a lot more sympathetic to radical feminism in general than most of the commenters here, and accordingly I can see how most of the things she names can be rape, or contribute to rape culture. (She calls femininity a form of rape because it violates “bodily integrity”, which I think is a stretch, but I do think the way girls are brought up does serve to make them more vulnerable to rape — e.g., nice girls aren’t supposed to fight, to refuse to cooperate, to be selfish, to know anything about sex). But there’s a difference between rape and rape culture, and I don’t think it serves feminist discourse to confuse them.

  12. Yeah, and there really is a lot of work feminists and other advocates of sexual progressiveness have had to do wrt “no, really, this is rape -too-,” and it still hasn’t sunk in for a lot of people Physical force does not have to be present. Bruises and marks do not have to be present. Intercourse as such does not have to have been part of it. It could be someone the raped person has already willingly had sex with, even was halfway to doing it again and changed hir mind for whatever reason. Et cetera. And yes, Virginia, men can be raped, too.

    The real problem is that people like Maggie want to erase (others’) agency, because it makes life simpler and they don’t actually quite get what that -is-, I don’t think; a -lot- of people have difficulty conceiving of The Other as a legitimate mind in its own right. The damage that this causes is easiest to see when it results in something like a rape, but there are other, subtler forms of objectifying/erasing other people as well.

  13. I mean, to be fair, if someone like Maggie didn’t exist, the traditional gatekeepers/rape apologists would have to invent her (and often do anyway, also, too); it’s not like an excuse was needed to dismiss any conclusion that interferes with their own comfort zone.

    Still really aggravating, though.

  14. …and it’s also here where we see the limits of “the personal is political,” I suppose. Yes, it’s a vital starting point. And yet: if someone is the sort of person who can -only- generalize by extrapolating from her own personal experiences but never actually seems to have a real concept of “actually, other people don’t necessarily work in exactly the same way, but they might have experiences in their own right that are just as valid,” then we have a problem, Houston. Especially when said someone feels the overwhelming need to share her Truth with the rest of the world because, well, what other Truth -is- there? QED, world without end, and on it goes.

  15. In this case, I suppose, and I am -only- speculating, what could be happening is a classic disconnect wherein (for example) the author might be extrapolating from an encounter(s) with abuser(s) of a certain type, who started out “charming” and then incrementally devolved into abusive, including sexually. Couple that with (a) traditional female socialization to -not- trust your gut, -not- rock the boat, -not- challenge a man who’s supposedly -flattering- you (the mixed messages would be classic crazy-making, which is exactly the point), and, sure, you could end up with something like that. And draw similar conclusions. I am, again, just riffing here.

    But still, it’s like…dude, the answer is not one size fits all. Maybe let’s even say that experiences have been bad and frequent enough that it -is- impossible to tell what’s appropriate or not, for -some- of the women -some- of the time. It still isn’t going to be true for -all- women -all- of the time…

    and honestly, I’m not sure where you go from there, given the set-up, without falling into the trap of pathologizing -someone-.

    But I mean, it seems like for some people, there’s no grey area between invalidating -their- experience and accepting their rather sweeping generalizations as Teh Truth Of The World, Full Stop.

  16. Fantastic post, Natalia. I used to teach a seminar on date rape at the university, in which I’d attempt to point out that the radical confusion that often occurs at the heart of sexual encounters is NOT the same as rape, where one party owns, possesses and often expresses a clear-cut ‘no’. Rape is extreme trauma, and to extend its fringes out into the darker side of regular sexuality is to do a horrible misservice to women who have experienced it. Have you read Katie Roiphe’s book, The Morning After? It’s a little old now, but still pretty relevant.

  17. anthony – how is it racist when i am pointing out a common denominator among millions of arabs? don’t assume that i think that rape is good, it’s a heinous crime, but i believe that it is preventable many times. there is a reason why rape statistics are lower in the arab world.

    natalia – i don’t hate men. i believe most men still think that they are entitled to sex at any price. You have to deal with that reality if you want to survive. in this sense it is extremely hard for an average man to stop when what he believes to be his prize is so close. i’m not a cheerleader for rape. i want to be objective. i find it interesting that you are choosing to describe your experiences this way. you speaking about what happened in the movie theater reads like softcore porn. i think you will have to define for yourself if you are a woman who leads men on and suffersthe consequences, or a woman who prospers.

    belledame222 – i don’t know what you’re talking about. the author of this blog probably has my ip logged.

    bill – the racial element here cannot be missed.

  18. “there is a reason why rape statistics are lower in the arab world. ”

    I can’t believe you’re actually serious. Kind of amazing. Yes there is a reason why rape stats are lower in the arab world. It’s called shame and women being openly discouraged from reporting rape and other forms of sexual abuse.

  19. Crankster,

    I think we have found the crux of your whole ideology – as carried over from the moronic “women outside, in public, with hair, deserve to be sexually harassed” argument.

    You think sex is a male entitlement, and women should acquiese whether they want to or not. (And really, they all do, otherwise they wouldn’t so blatantly walk around as they do).

    So, there’s no such things as rape because a) men can’t help it and b) women love it really.

    What it boils down to, bud, is that YOU HAVE A COMPLETELY FUCKED UP IDEA OF SEX.

    A love life restricted to wanking over underwear ads and 18 guilt-laden seconds with imported hookers isn’t much to look forward to, you know….

  20. Me describing kissing some guy in a movie theater 6 years ago is “softcore porn”? Damn. Why am I not getting paid for this stuff then? Somebody hook me up here.

    Seriously, CL, your perverted interpretation missed the fact that I was talking about seduction and regret. And seduction – BIG SURPRISE – is sexual in nature. I suppose in your demented little universe, it’s not cool for women to talk being attracted to someone or talk about k-i-s-s-i-n-g. Which makes me kind of wonder what it is that you’re doing hanging out on the blog of a horrible libertine who defiles herself with men’s mouths (not to mention other body parts, *shudder*). Oh, that’s right, you typed all of that with your left hand.

    I really hope you don’t have some poor, clueless girlfriend on whom you impart your wankage… sorry, “wisdom.”

    Am not even going to bother with your comments on the Arab world.

    P.S. You’re not banned – in case anyone is wondering – because I think if there is someone reading this, and is on the fence about some of these issues, perhaps they’ll see your position (ooh, POSITION! *shudder shudder*) for what it is. Also, you’re funny as hell.

  21. Lit, thanks. I’m not a huge fan of Katie Roiphe, though I think that overall – there needs to be criticism of the feminist movement and its various branches, and engage in it myself. 🙂

    I think that Roiphe’s problem was a complete lack of research (I wasn’t asking for much either, I’m not a huge fan of graphs and pages of statistics anyway, but a bit never hurts) and a tone-deaf approach to many issues surrounding sexual assault. And in saying that, I don’t think that strong women are all about patting each other on the back, or offering tea and sympathy, and leaving it at that.

    But I think that Roiphe suffered from the same problem as Naomi Wolf did when she published “Promiscuities” – the book is restricted to mostly personal experience, but then that personal experience is extrapolated.

    Of course, I haven’t picked it up in a while either. And I still think that Roiphe’s role as someone who disagrees with the mainstream feminist thought is still important. Because, like the Dworkin/Maggie thing that I have been discussing here – it’s VERY TRUE that women do get infantilized even by their own, and no, I don’t like it.

  22. lowfields – you are PROJECTING. i never said that women like being raped, but they might AS WELL like it, if they take no responsibility for themselves. thank you for your assumption. i don’t need to pay anyone for sex, i think whores (male and female – so don’t try accusing me of sexism) are abhorrent. i like women who respect themselves (clearly the author of this blog does not or she would not be bragging about her exploits). underwear ads are a sad byproduct of capitalist society. they disrespect women and therefore i am not interested (but i think YOU are).

    natalia – i am glad i have brought some amusement into your life. don’t assume that i find you attractive. you are good-looking, but you are also irresponsible and not an adult. you don’t want to pay for your choices. many men are interested in that kind of woman so am sure that you have your pick anyway. i think there was a good way of describing what happened in that movie theater, but you had to act crass. you are proud of it, yes? you swagger, just like a man. go ahead, ban me. you don’t seem like a person who can handle the truth. and yet you live in the arab world, where people like you are clearly despised. does this validate you?

    tulip – CIA statistics must mean nothing.

  23. Natalia:
    Perhaps I wasn’t clear.
    When I said that there were “many” cases of this (regret being turned into rape where no coercion existed) I was reporting documented fact. I was not saying this constituted anything like the majority of rape charges.

  24. “CIA statistics must mean nothing.”

    Considering I happen to be a product of the culture that you’re apparently such an expert on and cite repeatedly as if you know what you’re talking about, I really feel no need to go around pulling CIA stats out of the air. My statements are based on fact and knowledge, unlike yours. But thankyou.

    And I’m not understanding what you feel women should be taking responsibility for when it comes to rape. The way they dress, walk, talk? If it boils down to the way women dress, I think everyone with half a brain knows by now that rape is an act of aggression and power not desire and clothing has nothing to do with it. If it comes down to the way women walk and talk, I see no reason why women must cloister themselves in their homes and walk around with their eyes to the ground speaking only when spoken to because pathetic men such as yourself are incapable of dealing with it. Shall women just stop dating altogether? That would really ensure prudent sexual decisions. Although there is that problem of marital rape. Although I’m sure you can find someway to pawn responsibility off onto the woman in this case as well.

    “and yet you live in the arab world, where people like you are clearly despised.”

    What in god’s name are you talking about here? Do you even know? You’re just pulling stuff out of your arse now aren’t you?

  25. I think you’re dead on. the whole idea of ‘seduction’ is contained in the old saying – it takes two to tango. to conflate seduction with rape is, philosophically speaking, analogous to letting the German people off the hook for Nazism by saying they were merely seduced by Hitler.

    People are accountable for their actions, but victims of crime are not criminals. The ‘women as children’ perspective is interesting; you’re on to something there in regards to certain schools of feminism. To view women as nothing but constant and perpetual victims of men is condescending and trivializing, and is really more of a male chauvinist point of view than a radical feminist one. It’s always interesting when extremes meld into one another.

    My favored viewpoint was summed up by my neighbor’s bumper sticker – feminism is the radical notion that women are people.

  26. Meh. I think people totally misinterpret Dworkin’s point about seduction being *difficult to distinguish* from rape. That’s not the same thing as “identical to.”

    The other day Scott Adams (the Dilbert guy) posted a mashup of studies that amounted to saying “to get sex from a woman who would otherwise say no, make sure she’s got low blood sugar — which reduces willpower — is already trying burning willpower to resist something else — which also reduces willpower in another area — and then take her shopping somewhere where she’ll see stuff she really wants but doesn’t think it would be polite to buy on a date — which evidently *further* erodes willpower. ”

    Whereupon, in a state of weakened willpower she’ll have sex with him even though she otherwise wouldn’t give him the time of day.

    Now the key thing isn’t that this would work, it’s that guys go around thinking the only way to “get” sex from women is to weaken their “willpower” not to.

    That? That’s pretty hard to distinguish from rape.

    The way I see it, Maggie Hays goes *way* off the tracks by overlooking that “extraction of sex by guile, distraction, gratitude, or possibly intoxication” isn’t the only way to define seduction.

    Because sometimes seduction can mean, you know, interplay between two individuals who’ve *already* decided they’re interested in sex together and are just working out the details.

    And, of course, the answer to Dworkin’s challenge is to, um, *distinguish* the two kinds of seduction. You? This post makes it pretty clear that you’ve got the distinction wired. That said, even though Adams wrote only in cynical jest I’ll give you a nickle if his “low-blood-sugar seduction” method doesn’t show up as unvarnished truth on some “seduction community” website sometime in the next year. So even though Hays is a bit over the top there’s still a little work to do on the WTF seduction front.

    Cool post, by the way.


  27. “lowfields – you are PROJECTING. i never said that women like being raped, but they might AS WELL like it, if they take no responsibility for themselves.”


    Yeah, I don’t doubt Natalia’s got your IP logged. There is also this thing known as a proxy, as I’m sure you know.

    I do just find it curious just how -many- of a very particular type of troll Natalia seems to get, with very similar obsessions (most notably Natalia herself, of course) and improbable combinations of particular ideological positions, if one can even call them that. I admit there’s a certain amount of wishful thinking in my suspicion that you are, in fact, one and the same as at least one particularly tiresome stalker of N’s, mostly in that it’s just too fucking depressing otherwise. But then, fuck knows there’s no dearth of fuckwits in the multiverse; I suppose it’s not -that- unlikely that your particular type of fuckwittery isn’t unique.

    Well, on the bright side, I suppose that means I probably haven’t asked your incarnation yet at the very least: can -you- play “Melancholy Baby?”

  28. By the way, if it’s really -that- hard for men to control themselves, is there some particular reason why we should let them roam around? I mean, it’s hardly the -womens’- problem, then, is it? Why not just lock them all up? It’s not like we particularly need them most of the time; there, problem solved. Don’t you agree, CL?

  29. Thanks, Figleaf. Dilbert illustrates an interesting point about how we work – and it’s interesting to juxtapose “feminine wiles” to that. Our methods tie into the existing power structure – just like the men’s. Women get a lot of play out of vulnerability, men get play out of their wallets. But there is also the archetypal strong & sassy woman who gets men to have sex with her because she’s willful in a way women aren’t generally supposed to be, and the men like that, though in approaching her they are usually still searching for that one vulnerable spot. She’s still a stereotype – but it’s one way of behaving, if you want a dude, and I think it often gets overlooked.

    As you can probably tell, I don’t really like much of Dworkin. I think Dworkin takes some good ideas and tends to drive them toward absurdity. It’s not that I don’t think that seduction can have coercive elements, it’s just that in the second part of her quote – when she talks about how a seducer will bother to buy a bottle of wine, unlike a rapist – all I can think is, so what?

    So a guy buys a bottle of wine, hoping, at least somewhere in the back of his mind, to have sex. If he’s hoping to get you drunk enough to the point that you can’t give consent, he’s a rapist, there’s nothing “like” rape about it, it is rape. But otherwise, it’s just two people getting to know each other over a bottle of wine. One or both might have regrets in the morning. Or neither one will. But I cannot, in good faith, compare that to rape. Because once I start doing that – I swiftly arrive at the conclusion that men and women must be segregated from each other, and that current Saudi Arabian laws are our future.

    If we can’t take responsibility for a choice we make (or else, just go, “hmmm, I’m kinda horny and I bet this wine will make me more so. But do I really want this dude? Mmmm. No. Pass on the wine.”), then we’re back at square one.

    Of course, I must admit that parents are still not teaching their girls to stand up for themselves en masse, how to counteract the idea that they “owe” sex to some Nice Guy (TM) because he bought the wine in the first place, or something along the same lines. We’re so focused on protecting them that we rarely teach them how to protect themselves – how to resist pressure. Maybe if we did more of the latter, we wouldn’t have these conversations.

  30. Cranky,

    Belle’s right – all of this is very familiar.

    The idea of you thinking me attractive is terrifying – but I can’t help but notice that you read a little too much into my posts. “Doctor, where’d you get those dirty pictures?” – and so on.

    Once again, comments on the Arab world are too ridiculous to respond to. You might want to get past the stereotypes. Of course, that would involve growing up and not being a complete douche, so good luck with that.

    So I swagger, huh? That’s funny, I always thought that swagger was more akin to “oh yeah, I totally slept with him, it was awesome *high five*” as opposed to recounting one’s feelings of regret. Of course, neither do I rend my garments in abject shame, which is what you really want out of women everywhere, don’t you? Quite frankly, I prefer swagger to that.

    I refuse to apologize for the way I wrote about the Life Saver incident. It might have been a mistake, but it was a fun mistake, and I’m not going to act like a repentant Jezebel over it. Lay off the bad Victorian novels already, idiot.

  31. Oh, but allow me to break it down one more time for you, Cranky:

    1) Not all Arabs are Muslims. (Plenty of secular, non-religious Arabs around.)

    2) Not all Muslims are Islamic fundamentalists. (Plenty of moderates around.)

    3) Not even all Islamic fundamentalists would go so far as to pronounce that women who dress in certain ways should be stoned to death and are justified to be raped. (A few of their “leaders” do on occasion, but they no more represent the majority of Muslims than Ratz Benedict represents the opinion of all Catholics or Jimmy Swaggart represents all evangelicals.)

    Since you believe ALL Arabs (read,”Arab culture”) to be exactly that, you are imposing your own slanted, jaundiced view onto an entire people based on their heritage.

    That, by definition, makes you a bona fide racist.

    Attacking Natalia for merely existing and hounding her for opinions and for not apologizing for her experiences, on the other hand, just makes you an king-sized asshole.

    Just keep it up, Cranky…the more you type, the deeper hole you did yourself.


  32. Whores are abhorrent? WOO HOO, I love getting the whole horrible disdain from People Like CL there, who, well, sort of fail utterly at being people.

    I suppose all us women should just cover up and get back into the kitchen where we’re safe from those mindless sex crazed men, unless we like getting raped, of course…


  33. I wish it was hard for my man to stop… bygones.

    You know, Natalia, I remember a debate on a private message board over an experience I had, where some particularly cranky liberals (actually, they aren’t liberals at all) asserted that I didn’t know the difference between consenting to sex and then regretting it, and not consenting to sex and feeling violated. The conversation on this post reminds me of that debate… wherein I received much of the criticism that is being directed toward women in general by this CL character. That brings me to one conclusion, we must be right, we feminists who assert that women know the difference between consensual and non-consensual sex.

    And by the way, CL, CIA statistics actually DO mean nothing. They get their information by jamming staples into people’s heads.

  34. “As you can probably tell, I don’t really like much of Dworkin. I think Dworkin takes some good ideas and tends to drive them toward absurdity.”

    My take on Dworkin has a lot to do with being old enough to remember what life was like *before* she started kicking up shit about “no means no.” Because, seriously, even way into the 1970s the standard for what constituted rape was, basically, seriously, “you’re still alive, aren’t you, so you obviously wanted it.” And I mean back then *almost everybody* thought about it that way.

    And I know it drives almost everybody nuts when I say it, but until she cannonized “no means no” words like “consent” and even “yes” were effectively meaningless. And so without her work (and the work of others like her) there wouldn’t have been space for stuff like 3rd-wave feminism to move into starting in the 1980s.

    Anyway, I think she sounds like such a crank today in part because while there are obviously still a lot of holdouts (some radfems, sure, but way more anti-feminists) we’ve mostly internalized her key ideas in a way people just *didn’t* back when she was writing.


  35. Figleaf –

    I think you’re giving Dworkin way too much credit here. Combating rape was pretty high on the agenda of the entire early feminist movement that was anywhere even slightly more to the radical side of Betty Friedan. A lot of the cultural changes that you describe would have, in all likelihood, happened anyway, even if Dworkin, et al had never come on to the scene.

    It could even be argued that the post-1974 “MacDworkin turn” in feminism did a hell of a lot of damage to that movement, insofar as anti-rape became associated with a lot of anti-sexual and anti-male extremism. (Maggie Hayes is simply doing her best to carry on that ignoble tradition.) Albeit, one could also argue that Dworkin, MacKinnon, etc did have a “Overton window” effect in that, after them, liberal feminism started sounding really reasonable to a lot more people. Either way, I don’t their their ideas deserve much credit in themselves for that cultural change.

  36. I agree in regards to Dworkin’s “no means no” – but where did she end up taking it, you know? Obviously, her work grew and progressed with time, and I think her exploration of the undue pressure being placed on women to offer themselves up as nothing but slabs of pretty meat for sexual consumption was very much spot-on (and there is a reason why it makes so many men uncomfortable), but she lost me when she said that consent is pretty much meaningless within patriarchy.

    Because, for one thing, I don’t think that Teh Patriarchy is the only system that an individual is living within. I think we live within all sorts of overlapping systems. Our experiences, our conclusions, and the means with which we arrive at them – vary.

  37. “I think you’re dead on. the whole idea of ’seduction’ is contained in the old saying – it takes two to tango. to conflate seduction with rape is, philosophically speaking, analogous to letting the German people off the hook for Nazism by saying they were merely seduced by Hitler.”

    Not all the Germans voted for Hitler, just enough for him to gain power. And once he had that, not a lot of Germans had any real choice anymore. A majority was willingly seduced at first, just like some women are willingly seduced by a man’s charms. But later in the evening, or in Hitler’s case later in the decade, the man suddenly upped the ante and it was no longer about letting oneself be seduced, because there no longer was choice.

    Besides, how would you like me to blame all Americans for the mess in Iraq because they elected Bush? I know that not everyone voted for him, but fuck that, y’all still elected him.

    Basically, the analogy to Germany and Nazism is wildly exaggerated and serves the exact opposite of your purpose.

    The German people wanted to believe Hitler could give them a better future, he instilled hope in them. Just like a seductive man might with his behaviour convince a woman that she’ll very much enjoy his company for a prolonged period of time. And that’s fair enough. Up until that point it’s her responsibility, but at the moment when she steps into his apartment and he suddenly forces her into bed with no further niceties, it is no longer a tango for two – it is rape. Just like when Hitler was in power he decided he wanted to rule and cleanse the world, and that’s not what the Germans voted for, they voted for a better economy not for an attempt to conquer the world.

    Be careful with analogies, Tom, this one was actually quite offensive.

  38. Nothing about seduction or rape. Just a note on Hitler. He never won a majority in an election. He was appointed chancellor by the old monarchical, authoritarian president using his emergency powers. Generalization about the ‘German people’ is about as ill-founded as claims about ‘Arab culture.’

  39. I feel as if I have just been raped. I have been seduced by your words and thoughts. The more I read you writings the more I feel deep compassion and desire. Do I have free choice over my reactions or am I being manipulated by a data rape drug of seduction by words? Its a fine line between pleasure and pain and sadly a fine line between rape and seduction it would appear. As ever I am captivated by your thoughts and growing wisdom.

    I can not help but ask were you sexually abused as a child or as a young adult? This question is not to be seen as a means of belittlement or condemnation of anyone’s choices or how they may deal with the anger that life’s choices may present, it is not up to me to morally judge anyone else only to try and understand myself and others though compassion and acceptance, it is just a question out of curiosity

  40. Great post, Natalia. Sadly, blurring the lines between sleazy seduction and rape does no favors to women who are victims of the latter. In a way, I see MRAs or the lesser evil, the Roiphes or Feminist Critics, as the opposite side of the coin to Rad Fems (not all) such as Hays. Personal opinion has shaped their world view in such a way that getting into arguments or even reasoned discussions isn’t going to be productive, IMO, 99% of the time. For those who hang in there for the occasional 1% who gets it, kudos from someone much lazier.

  41. “Nothing about seduction or rape. Just a note on Hitler. He never won a majority in an election. He was appointed chancellor by the old monarchical, authoritarian president using his emergency powers. Generalization about the ‘German people’ is about as ill-founded as claims about ‘Arab culture.’”

    (Getting a bit off-topic.)

    Eh, that’s a matter of historical debate, with the book Hitler’s Willing Executioners making a strong case that the German people both knew what the regime was doing and approved, and in many cases, were quite willing to lend a hand. The book was controversial, and I suppose there’s a case to be made against it as well.

    And while, I agree, people are ultimately individuals and not mere subsets of their culture (one reason I have big problems with identity politics, because it is often guilty of reducing individuals to precisely that), national/ethnic culture is a very real thing and certainly leaves its mark on people who grow up within it. For example, my German grandmother, while being somebody who escaped from Nazi Germany, was unmistakeably the product of classical authoritarian German culture nevertheless and it colored her personality in a lot of ways. So I think you can make certain generalizations about the German culture of the time.

  42. Thanks! Thanks for putting into words what I was thinking when I’ve heard that.

    My thoughts being, “…No one actually said something like this, right?”


  43. Psychopathology of Seduction

    It is a sad statistical fact that most vicrtims of sexual predation never reconcile their emotions associated with the act because they commonly feel blameworthy themselves, whether the act was a forced rape or a seduction — as in the case of a professor taking advantage of star struck co-eds or a senior executive exploiting naive and gullable young staffers with suasions of senioral charm and appobation, mentorship or (if the staffer/victim is experiencing personal distress) the demeanor of avunculor compassion and counseling.

    The typical reaction of the victim to these forms of preditor victimization is to try to bury it from sight and mind, as in the “past”. In effect, like the rapist who goes scott free for not being reported by his victim (because she wants not to face her sense of public shame), the seducer escapes judgement too in the mind of his victim because of her own misplaced sense of complicity to the act, compelling burying the episode from memory, thereby removing it from the rhetrospect analysis that would characterized it for what it was, a rape of the innocent by a predator.

    Not seen for the rape it was the preditor remains in the mind of the victim as just another charming guy — even held in fond memory for the attention given — while the victim faults herself for “foolish gullibilty”, implying “self seduction”. Studies of college date rape victims show that those who did not report (acknowledge) the rape usually retain a relationship with the rapist, while those who did report it are better able to put the act in proper perspective, and subsequently avoid further contact.

    Though methods are different between the physical force rapist and the seducer rapist their mindset is the same; assess the intended victim’s vulnerability and strategize accordingly. In the former case its a matter of learning the intended victim’s schedule of movements and habits, while in the latter its determining the psychological vulnerability of the intended victim (such as collapsing relationships and loneliness). Theory is that there’s a “cross over” point when the difference between the two types of rapists dissolves: if the seducer is not successful with the guile of flattery and false pledges of sincere “love” physical force often comes into play, as studies in college “date rape” cases demonstrate.

    The seduction rapist’s flattery is typically charged with claim that his attraction to the victim is like none other he’s ever felt, causing the victim to feel appreciated (“finally”!) for her “unique self”.

    Rapist of both types hold the same self exculpatory belief about their victims’ “secret desires”, a belief that contrast strikingly to that of the victims who so often blame themselves. Rapist exempt themself from blame with the excuse that they are simply facilitating the unconscious desires of their victiims.

  44. You’ve conflated a bunch of issues here, and have not engaged anything I actually said.

    Anyone who’s ever been seduced by a jerk has been seduced by a jerk. It sucks, but neither it is rape, unless other elements are present. I’ve desired older, powerful men before and I resent being told that this desire was automatically screwy and wrong, or that I didn’t know what I actually wanted at the time. People can be attracted to someone else’s maturity, life experience, wisdom… And there’s nothing wrong with that, in essence. Now, those that use positions of power against someone who may be vulnerable are, at best, skeevy as hell. In many circumstances, it is, indeed plainly criminal and what they are doing is rape. But you can’t lump everyone together and declare them all as “rapists” and “victims of rape.” Life is a little bit more complicated than that.

    And can I just say that this is a pretty big trivialization of date rape? Because that’s what it reads like to me. Plenty of women stay with their rapists, but their rapists are not seducing them. They are raping them. And placating them with the usual – “look what you made me do,” “you’ll never find anyone else anyway,” etc.

    Also, I am severely uncomfortable with the use of the word “innocent.” Trusting the wrong person has nothing to do with any metaphoric innocence. Men end up as victims of seduction all the time as well, and I don’t see anyone rushing to protect their supposed “purity.” Honestly, this reads like something I’d read in a handbook for Victorian century nuns.

    I’m tired of the dichotomy of “pure, sweet, naive women” & “evil, barbarous, lust-driven men.” It’s SO annoying and SO essentialist.

  45. It must be said that the seduction as rape part should apply, but not as written. Not because “women don’t know how we feel when we’re turned on” but because of those younger, more innocent (and you know, even not so innocent) women who get seduced by step-dads or other fatherly figures or other men in general and have sex with them and then feel ashamed because they don’t know if they’ve just been raped or molested or what have you, and they can’t go to anybody. They need to know that just because a man doesn’t hold them down and physically force himself on her there are other ways to manipulate people and yes, they are victims.

  46. You can be a victim of another person’s cunning, manipulation, etc. Obviously, both rape and sexual abuse can and often do go hand-in-hand with this kind of treatment of another person.

  47. Guys, I read this thread and thank you for writing this this because it made me think … but the conclusions are quite disturbing. It seems “rape” is a very subjective and individual thing… bottom line is whether or somebody in the situations feels violated.
    I had some one night stands… the morning after when I was still in bed we had sex again… I say “we” but really I was too passed out/hangover/tried to consciously participate and pretended to be asleep. I don’t even remember if I wanted to have sex or not. I think the boys in question just assumed that I did since I was in their bed. Was I, therefore, raped? I never through about it this way, because I did not feel violated in this situation (one of this boys was lovely and we are still friends… the other turned out to be a bastard but that’s a different story)
    More recently I also had sex with my boyfriend when he was asleep; he woke up to find me on top of him. Rape?
    Problem is sexual mating game is so subtle. It depends on our emotions which can change every second. And we are absolutely not prepared or to ask clearly and loudly for sex. We are supposed to guess, read the signals, the situation etc. And so many times a girl or a boy will not say “no” simply because she’s too shy or whatever else.
    What follows is that you can have a rapist without a rape and rape without a rapist…
    I guess the problem is what should be punishable by our criminal justice system…

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