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Jun 26 2012

Congratulations on Not Harassing Anyone…This Time

Thunderf00t has a second post up on the topic of harassment policies. I don’t really care about most of it, but let’s take a look at the bit that is about the harassment policies themselves.

And maybe most pertinently, PZ explaining why his policy wouldn’t be a killjoy.

 If you want to chew on some woman’s leg, no, you don’t have to consult the conference handbook.”

“You have to fucking consult the woman.”

Facepalm.  Yes this is exactly why you are killjoys to the VAST majority of civil, honest respectable folks.  IT WAS IN A BAR.  I enjoyed it, she enjoyed it (she left a comment specifically saying so, just to remove all doubt (see MyLegMYCHOICE!)), AND I NEVER HAD TO CONSULT HER, NOR APPLY FOR PERMISSION FROM THE CONFERENCE, IN ORDERS SIGNED IN TRIPLICATE SENT IN, SENT BACK AND BURIED IN SOFT PEAT FOR THREE MONTHS AND RECYCLED AS FIRELIGHTERS etc etc.  Indeed had I had to fill in the paperwork along with ‘permission to bite your leg in a horseplay photo’ form under conference interpersonal contact rule 144 b) 2, it would have probably kinda killed the moment, and neither I nor she would have got our mild thrills for the night.  It’s boys n girls have fun in bars!

Look I’ll make it simple, the point of a bar isn’t to make everyone maximally safe (indeed if it were, they would ban bars, as it would be far safer if everyone just stayed at home and did nothing), it’s to let everyone have the most amount of fun.  The reason people don’t go to bars that are maximally safe, is because they are DULL, with folks always living in fear of crossing some random rule written by  some hypersensitive pencil-necked PC jockey.  I want to go to a bar where people let their hair down a little and act like PEOPLE! Nor do I see why everyone who is happy with such bars should have to comply to your dull set of rules that would SPECIFICALLY PROHIBIT EXACTLY THE SORT OF FUN GOING ON IN THIS PICTURE.

There’s a good bit of irony in this language showing up in a post about strawmen.

Here’s the proposed sample policy. There’s nothing in there about paperwork. There’s nothing in there about asking permission from the conference. This is the language about harassment in the policy:

Harassment includes offensive verbal comments [related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, [your specific concern here]], sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.

Perhaps Thunderf00t could be so kind as to point to where this policy prohibits consensual horseplay?

The strawmanning isn’t the most problematic part of what he’s said here, of course. The huge problem is that he is using a consensual encounter to talk about harassment. It’s a very good thing that the person whose leg he bit happened to be cool with it. (I do wonder how she feels about being used as an argument against harassment policies, but that’s a digression.) But Thunderf00t manages never to deal with the fact that if she hadn’t been happy about it, it would have been criminal assault.

Is he okay with committing assault? Is he okay with just guessing that he isn’t committing assault? Would assaulting someone be okay because their boundaries would be just random and hypersensitive and easily dismissed as political correctness?

It certainly isn’t okay just because it happens in a bar. Bars where assaults happen frequently tend to get shut down as nuicances. That’s because the business of a bar is alcohol. It is not being unsafe. It is not serving up ankles to entitled douchebags. If you ever think it is, perhaps you should take a look at the wares behind the counter. I can all but guarantee you that any ankles you see on the counter or in the cabinets are not for sale.

Of course, it’s possible that Thunderf00t actually asked for and received permission for what he did–not necessarily for ankle-biting specifically, but for a general class of bizarre, familiar behavior. He may have actually gone to the trouble to make sure his actions were welcome, no matter how much he claims otherwise here. He may just be naive enough to think that consent really does require paperwork. (I know it sounds weird, but remember that he didn’t bother to find out what was in the sample policy.)

After all, it really isn’t that hard to get permission for something like this without breaking the mood, even something specific. Think you’ve flirted enough to know whether someone is interested in this sort of thing? Then lean in and say something like this:

“I’ve been known to bite.”
“Have you now?”
“I particularly like ankles. Is that a problem for you?”
“Hmm. No, I don’t think so. No problem here.”
“And if I do it right here, right now?”
“Heh. Sure.”

There. Woman (in this case) consulted and look at that: clear consent that doesn’t break the mood. Assuming that “discomfitted partner” is not the mood you’re going for.

Now, if Thunderf00t’s idea of fun relies on that risk he refers to, relies on not knowing whether someone will consent to what he’s about to do, that’s another story. If that’s the case, I am completely unapologetic about demanding an anti-harassment policy at any conference he’s going to attend. That attitude would mean that he is exactly the sort of person these policies are meant to address.

I don’t go to a conference to get my leg grabbed and bitten. As with a bar, this is not the product being sold, to me or to him. Thunderf00t can whine all he wants about having his fun spoiled. I don’t care. His kink doesn’t get to dominate my conference experience, or my drinking experience, and the fact that he thinks it should demonstrates why these policies are needed.

Because, you know, we needed one more demonstration of that.

53 comments

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  1. 1
    michaeld

    I’m just completely frustrated by his original post. Maybe when the man stops tilting at wind mills and battering straw men and addresses the actual proposed policy(or policies) I may actual regain some respect for the man. I find it incredibly telling that I can make a perfect nice rebuttal to his original post using large chunks of his own fucking advice from his second post. Just absolutely galling….

  2. 2
    George W.

    Each time I’ve read Thunderfoot recount how he didn’t need consent to bite a woman in a bar, I get this mental picture of him sitting at a table, seeing an attractive woman across the room, and just walking up and bending down on his knees, licking her thigh, then biting down.

    That is biting someone with no consent. Did he introduce himself? Step 1. Did he have some ice breaking banter? Step 2. Did he become harmlessly flirtatious? Step 3. Did he carefully test the limits of the flirtation? Step 4. Did he put her in a situation where that could be a reasonable and consensual extension of their ongoing rapport? Holy fuck! He got consent!

    Consent isn’t hard- and maybe because it is easy for so many normally functioning adults it is difficult for them to be aware that they are doing it. Nobody walks up to a stranger and bites their thigh. Well, nobody we would consider functional. No one would ask awkwardly if it might be alright to bite your leg maybe sometime if it’s quite alright. That is a different kind of dysfunctional.

    It seems so bloody obvious to anyone with a clue.

  3. 3
    jamessweet

    I’m sorry to sound like a broken record, but I think a big part of the problem is that thunderf00t (and everyone else who is freaking out about this) has most likely never worked anywhere with a strong anti-harassment policy. It’s just…. not a big deal. People do not get busted for doing normal non-creepy stuff that doesn’t freak anybody out. It just doesn’t happen.

    I’ll admit I understand a little bit. The first time I had to attend the standard sexual harassment training where I work, I was like, “Seriously? You can’t do WHAT?” (Specifically, I remember it coming up that some people didn’t care for the word “screwed” in any context… Not even, “If I don’t get this paperwork in on time, I’m screwed.” Yeah, get real, people) But then I, you know, worked there for a while and realized that these policies are in place so that there is recourse if somebody is being a creepy jerk.

    The reason the policies can seem so expansive is because some behaviors can be creepy or not creepy depending on context. Since it is basically impossible to capture all nuances of context in any reasonable length document (or probably at all), the policy covers it, just in case. But I’d like to set thunderf00t’s mind at ease: If you are not being creepy, nobody is going to report you. So no worries. And even if somebody does report you for gnawing on someone’s leg, the absolute worst case scenario is you get asked to stop.

    It’s just… not that big of a deal.

  4. 4
    Ace of Sevens

    I’m pretty sure he’s doing this on purpose. Either he had tacit permission to bite her for some reason, or he is arguing that he should be able to bite people without knowing whether it’s OK. If it’s the first thing, he’s straw-manning PZ and trying to muddy the waters. If he does think that he should be able to approach any woman in a bar and bite her, then he is explicitly saying that harassment is OK so long as you don’t overdo it. Since he left it vague, he can accuse you of straw-manning him if you respond to his implications.

  5. 5
    Stephanie Zvan

    Frankly, he only sort of left it vague. That whole bit about bars being inherently unsafe, in addition to being false, is a big red flag for me. I give him the benefit of the doubt in the post, but I won’t be getting near him in a bar.

  6. 6
    Ace of Sevens

    Honestly, when I read his first piece, I said it was the most sexist blog post I’d ever read that I didn’t find through Man Boobz. Has anyone tried it against those bingo cards?

  7. 7
    onion girl, OM; social workers do it with paperwork

    When you mention kink here, it just reminds me of another ironic aspect of all this. Thunderf00t is prattling on about how consulting women or setting boundaries (via harassment policies) is prohibiting ‘boys n’ girls having fun.’ But actual kink/BDSM–which I think would be clearly agreed upon by most is definitely one example of ‘boys n’ girls having fun.’–is founded on the idea of consent and boundaries. Because clearly defined consent and boundaries are what make it fun for all parties involved. (Didn’t Greta post something on exactly that subject recently, a kink/sexuality con that had very clear policies and guidelines?)

    And exactly how does ‘people letting their hair down’ prohibit making everyone ‘maximally safe’? Why does fun = unsafe? You know, I’m pretty sure that even bungee-jumping has safety rules and procedures. Why is there an assumption that respecting personal boundaries means eliminating flirtation and sexual innuendo? Why does being in a bar eliminate the need for consent?

    And why…ay. I can’t even begin to cover the fail. Why is so something so simple so difficult for people to comprehend?!

  8. 8
    pipenta

    The way I see it, if you think you have the right to bite my leg because I am sitting in a bar, then I have the right to kick your teeth down your throat.

  9. 9
    michaeld

    @ onion girl

    Yup greta did sort of wasn’t BDSM was open poly con.

    http://www.open-sf.org/conduct.html

    And its arguably a more structured policy then the geekfem one others are suggesting.

  10. 10
    Tabby Lavalamp

    (I do wonder how she feels about being used as an argument against harassment policies, but that’s a digression.)

    She’s fine with it. In fact, she participated in the strawmanning with a comment in Thunderf00t’s previous post. http://freethoughtblogs.com/thunderf00t/2012/06/25/misogynist/#comment-547

  11. 11
    John

    I have to ask – I thought the anti-harassment policy is there for the convention, how does it apply to people messing around in a bar afterwards?

    Secondly, I find it hard to imagine he just walked up to some woman in a bar grabbed her leg and started biting – there’s some context, familiarity, or some kind of way in which that sort of thing can happen and be acceptable.

    One does not simply go into a bar, grab a lady’s leg and start biting it; that’s the sort of thing that gets your ass kicked, or at least kicked out of the bar.

  12. 12
    Jason Thibeault

    “I shouldn’t need to obtain consent from this person because I have consent” isn’t an argument against obtaining consent, it’s an argument that a specific action isn’t harassment. If he tries this with a stranger, and they don’t consent, then it’s harassment.

    What a huge straw dummy he’s erected. Slow clap.

  13. 13
    PaulB

    Thunderfoot is being such a tool. How hard, really, is it to grok that yes, implied consent is fine, and you don’t even need to fill in a form in triplicate for every interaction you have with someone (when was that mentioned again?), but when that consent is withdrawn, then if you carry on doing whatever it is you were doing, then we have a problem. Also I’m particularly keen on “bars aren’t, and should not be, safe places, and if you don’t want to be harrased you should have fucking stayed at home”. Good job, Thunderfoot.

    And his condescending tone makes me think that he hasn’t properly thought about the counterarguments people are making, because they’re coming from such intellectual inferiors. How does he know they’re intellectually inferior? Because they’re posting comments which differ from his opininon. If he says, after explaining something abundently clearly, “I’ll make this simple” again, I’m going to crawl through the computer monitor and thump him.

  14. 14
    Bjarte Foshaug

    I think Thunderf00t is very close to identifying the real motivation behind the baclash against making skeptical conferences more welcoming to women: It has nothing to do with fear of false accusations or any of the other bogus “concerns” raised by concern trolls. It is all about their own selfish desire to have as much “fun” as they feel like at women’s expence.

  15. 15
    Lyanna

    This fucker bites my leg in a bar without asking first, he’s going to get my lovely chunky boot-heel in his face. Hard. Let’s see if that adds to his fun.

    It’s not maximally fun for women to be groped and grabbed and bitten by random perverts who don’t ask first.

  16. 16
    Lyanna

    And I go to bars because I want to enjoy a drink, not because I want some weird freak to bite me out of nowhere.

    Also most bars would throw him out for that behavior.

    And I bet if a man decided that this Thunderfoot tool had a nice ass, and decided to march on over and grope it, he wouldn’t be cool with that.

    Hey, I have an idea! If biting people without permission is just fine, how about kicking men in the balls without permission? Can I go around doing that in a bar?

    Surely Thunderfoot wouldn’t want to ruin my fun.

    And surely some men would enjoy being kicked in the balls. Not all are such killjoys.

  17. 17
    Anthony K

    It is all about their own selfish desire to have as much “fun” as they feel like at women’s expense.

    As well as a dogmatic refusal to conduct the barest minimum of self-reflection with regards to their impact on women, on a societal or indivisible level. It’s Dunning-Kruger all the way down.

    It’s like “What, you want me to do more thinking? Why? I’ve demolished the UFOers and the Bigfoot enthusiasts. I’m smart. I’m a skeptic. Job’s done; got the T-shirt, I’m just fine the way I am now.”

  18. 18
    Deen

    @John: if a conference has a “No means no, yes means yes and maybe means no” policy, it will still set the tone for what sort of attitude and behavior is expected from the people who attend. While the organization can’t actually enforce the policy in a bar after the conference hours, the hope is that having it in place still discourages people who disagree with the principles of the policy to stay away, and encourages people who agree with the policy to apply it in other parts of their lives too.

  19. 19
    michaeld

    (feigned brilliance) OOOOOOOOH I just came have this great solution to this problem!

    What if we asked people if they want to be bitten and or kicked before we actually do it. You know to make sure they’re ok with it first and we can then go and find people interested in these activities. Then with both people eager to participate everyone is happy!

    Further maybe we could add a little disclaimed explaining this revolutionary idea for our event. Then maybe laying out a few ground rules for enforcing it. hmm… but what could we name this great new idea we just had?

  20. 20
    Anthony K

    Yes this is exactly why you are killjoys to the VAST majority of civil, honest respectable folks.

    Is he cribbing his arguments from moderate theists now? I’ve heard this one before, but in a slightly different context.

    “Why you atheistsfeminists gotta be so in-your-face about it?”

  21. 21
    Jason Thibeault

    Brownian: also, argument from (assumed) popularity. “VAST majority” = “all us right-thinkers who can intuit consent by magic”?

  22. 22
    anonatheist

    Up until some people in all seriousness suggested to limit the consensual sexual activity of convention participants I would have agreed that this a complete strawman. Now not so much. Additionally under the cited policy both people actually commit sexual harassment. What they are doing is kink, it’s sexual, it constitutes a sexual image and is thus harassment. It does not matter that most people won’t be offended by it nor does it matter that the two people don’t mean to offend anybody.

    In my opinion the “sexual image” clause needs at least be limited in a sensible way.

    @jamessweet
    No, the worst case scenario is that you are going to be reported for harassment without prior warning, that you will be immediately expelled from the conference without a refund and your name be put on a black list such that you can never attend any atheist or skeptic conference in your life again. While this course of action may be justified in some cases to pretend that it is not possible is simply dishonest.

  23. 23
    Stephanie Zvan

    anonatheist, what the fuck are you talking about?

  24. 24
    Ben Zvan

    @anonatheist 22: You can’t even read the suggested policy in the post before complaining about it? What part of “Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately” leads to “be reported for harassment without prior warning, that you will be immediately expelled from the conference without a refund and your name be put on a black list such that you can never attend any atheist or skeptic conference in your life again”?

  25. 25
    michaeld

    @anonatheist

    I always assumed sexual images refereed to say covering poster for a speaker presentation in half naked women groveling at blowjob level at the feet of the speaker. Not say preventing a couple from making out in public.

  26. 26
    Jason Thibeault

    If two people biting one another’s legs was an official part of the convention as presented by the convention handlers, anonatheist MIGHT have a point. This is, again, the difference between someone walking into a bar with a wet white t-shirt, and the convention holding an official wet t-shirt contest.

  27. 27
    michaeld

    @steph

    He seems to be saying that say thunderfoot biteing someone leg is a kinky sexual image and thus them doing it in public falls under the no sexual images portion of the policy. Which I think is dumb…

  28. 28
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    No, the worst case scenario is that you are going to be reported for harassment without prior warning, that you will be immediately expelled from the conference without a refund and your name be put on a black list such that you can never attend any atheist or skeptic conference in your life again. While this course of action may be justified in some cases to pretend that it is not possible is simply dishonest.

    Translation: Bitchez ALWAYS lie. Won’t someone think of the poor poor MENZ!!

  29. 29
    anonatheist

    @michaeld

    The question is not if convention organizers could expel a couple for making out from their venue. This has always been at the discretion of the organizers long before “sexual harassment” even existed. The question is why making this official policy is seen as moral progress.

  30. 30
    Stephanie Zvan

    anonatheist, yeah, that’s not what that policy says. Chill.

  31. 31
    anonatheist

    @Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    16 % of the people that report sexual harassment in the workplace are men. Men can lie, too. So if you are a woman I would watch out.

  32. 32
    Stephanie Zvan

    Also, talk to a kink conference organizer about consent and public scenes. You’ll find out they’re generally already there on requiring the consent of your audience. You can ask them why they think that’s moral progress if you’re confused.

  33. 33
    michaeld

    The question is why making this official policy is seen as moral progress.

    It was always societies purview to punish people for murdering each other by banishing them from the settlement. The question is why is Hamurabi making this official policy seen as moral progress.

    Yes the conference could always kick people out for doing shit they don’t like. This is about conferences taking a stand to say that they want women (and men) to feel comfortable at their events by setting and enforcing a few simple rules. That way everything is nice clear cut and people know what to expect going in. As alluded to above I fail to see how this is significantly different from preferring a legal code of conduct then dealing solely with societies gut feelings on an issue.

  34. 34
    Ace of Sevens

    16 % of the people that report sexual harassment in the workplace are men. Men can lie, too. So if you are a woman I would watch out.

    So what’s your point here? Men will gin up a bunch of false accusations and get the women thrown out? Is that a warning or a threat?

  35. 35
    anonatheist

    @ Stephanie Zvan

    So are you in favour of baning couples from making out a conventions or not? If you think there is some kind of threshold I would really like to know where you think it should be.

  36. 36
    Stephanie Zvan

    You want some kind of hard and fast threshhold that I would unilaterally apply to all situations within any conference or convention? You really don’t understand what anti-harassment policies are all about, do you?

  37. 37
    chaos-engineer

    So are you in favour of banning couples from making out a conventions or not? If you think there is some kind of threshold I would really like to know where you think it should be.

    This is really a cultural question rather than a question for an individual. Conventions generally don’t mind if you’re engaged in simple hand-holding, but you might get told to cool it if you’re having a noisy session of dry-humping.

    There’s a huge grey area in the middle, and the code of conduct is going to vary from convention to convention, and even from location to location within the convention. (Generally the bar etiquette is a little looser than the main lobby.) If it’s your first time at a particular convention, it’s best to kind of stay in the background at first, and watch what everybody else is doing. I know it’s boring, but mastering this skill is really important if you want to join new groups of people and be accepted.

    (That said, there’s a way you can try to change rules that you find too lax or too burdensome, but it’s pretty complicated and I don’t have time to explain it right now.)

  38. 38
    SallyStrange

    16 % of the people that report sexual harassment in the workplace are men. Men can lie, too. So if you are a woman I would watch out.

    Would YOU lie about being harassed?

    Why or why not?

  39. 39
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    16 % of the people that report sexual harassment in the workplace are men. Men can lie, too. So if you are a woman I would watch out.

    OUt of curiosity, is this a warning or a threat?

  40. 40
    Eristae

    I don’t understand why people are having such trouble with this.

    A man and a woman are at a skeptical conference. The man leans over and kisses woman. He does not ask her, but simply does it. Is it appropriate, or not?

    Amazingly, the answer is “it depends.” If the woman and the man don’t know each other, or if they only know each other a very little bit (like they introduced themselves a few minutes ago), the answer is almost certainly “no.” If the man and the woman know each other better, the answer is more likely to be “it depends.” If the man and the woman are married, the answer is probably “yes.”

    This three situations are not identical. Acting like people who want to stop the first also want to stop the third are being SILLY. No one is saying that a man must verbally ask his wife if he may kiss her every time that he wants to kiss her for the rest of their lives. All we’re saying is that if a man wants to kiss a woman, he needs to consider and discern if the woman is open to his actions. If he knows her well enough to know that she is, then fine, he can go for it even though we know he might make a mistake. But if he doesn’t know, if he has no idea, if he has no rational reason to assume that he knows, then he needs to do something that will enable him to figure it the fuck out. Don’t say, “Hmm, I have no idea if this woman is interested in being kissed, so I’ll kiss her and see!” That is NOT the correct way to go about it; that is the WRONG way. There are more ways than I can name that an individual can use to ferret out if the object of their affections is interested; these ways are both verbal and non-verbal. Some are reasonable, some are not, but no one is saying that the only reasonable oe is “Ask if you can kiss her even if you’ve asked her 1,341,551 times before and she’s consistently said “yes.”"

    Jesus Christ. I don’t know why anyone is saying things like, “What, you mean a speaker shouldn’t be able to kiss his wife if she’s an attendee!” Are people really so thick that they don’t understand that no one is saying that? Because if they are, then that actually would make me nervous about said people’s ability to come to reasonable conclusions based on the evidence presented to them. I really hope that people aren’t actually that bad at inference.

  41. 41
    smhll

    I’m having a big-ass sense of deja vu. It might not have been you, but I could swear some FtB-er made all the exact same (good) points about three months ago.

  42. 42
    Lyanna

    I don’t think they’re stupid. I think they’re willfully ignorant.

  43. 43
    Lyanna

    Now, if Thunderf00t’s idea of fun relies on that risk he refers to, relies on not knowing whether someone will consent to what he’s about to do, that’s another story. If that’s the case, I am completely unapologetic about demanding an anti-harassment policy at any conference he’s going to attend. That attitude would mean that he is exactly the sort of person these policies are meant to address.

    I don’t go to a conference to get my leg grabbed and bitten. As with a bar, this is not the product being sold, to me or to him. Thunderf00t can whine all he wants about having his fun spoiled. I don’t care. His kink doesn’t get to dominate my conference experience, or my drinking experience, and the fact that he thinks it should demonstrates why these policies are needed.

    QFT.

    Seriously, thank you. THANK YOU.

    Why, when women are concerned, is it so hard to understand the basic rule that groping/grabbing/biting people without their consent is assault? That the fun YOU out of biting doesn’t trump my desire not to be bitten? This is just infuriating.

  44. 44
    Jodi

    I wanted to post this earlier when the comments were still in the single digits but I didn’t have very good cell service at work.

    I just wanted to add that I have a real life experience of this kind of playful biting in which consent was acquired and the mood was not ruined.

    It was with a not-yet boyfriend and what happened was while we were laughing and having a good time I reached across him to point at something and my arm came very close to his face and he ‘mimed’ a bite on my arm and grinned. I laughed and was like ‘what was that?’ and he said he likes to bite sometimes (a bit of ‘wink wink’ in the tone). I found this a bit intriguing. The next time I had to point something out I deliberately held my arm up a second longer and possibly even brushed his lips. I remember he glanced a question at me and when I grinned he went ahead.

    It was flirting, it was fun, it was obviously consensual and it did not in any way ruin the mood. We didn’t ‘sign paperwork’ we were just decent human beings about it.

  45. 45
    otrame

    @44
    And you are pretty sure he would have backed off if you had expressed discomfort at the biting reference. And it sounds like he would have. See? That was easy. Silly fun had. Not assault, not harassment and nobody reported anything to anybody. No big deal.

    I kinda want someone to walk up and bite Thunderf00t at the next conference he attends. No asking first, just walk up and bite him.

    Except that just biting someone without consent, even if only gently, skates far too close to assault, so I don’t recommend doing it. But I can imagine, can’t I?

  46. 46
    Lyanna

    Indeed, Otrame. Asking first is such a killjoy type of thing to do, after all.

  47. 47
    Ophelia Benson

    Illuminata @ 39 -

    Out of curiosity, is this a warning or a threat?

    What a silly question!! Any fool can see which it is! There’s never any ambiguity about what’s a warning and what’s a threat!!!11!!

  48. 48
    KT

    Not to mention, there could be all number of reasons why someone doesn’t want a certain action done to them so it’s just better all around to be sure before you chomp down, or what not.

    For example, I don’t have a moral problem with playful biting during flirting but I personally do not want someone to bite me. I have really sensitive skin that bruises easily and I’ve learned from experience that even playful, fun biting can cause that to happen.

    And, in my experience, a policy is not really meant for completely consensual situations, but rather for the situation that’s somewhere beyond consensual flirting. For example, because of the above sensitivity, I’ll often ask someone to please not do something playful because of it, like pinching or poking at me. The response at least half the time is “Oh I won’t hurt you, see?” Okay … see …. but I already said no. The person thinks they are just having fun and are convinced that I will change my mind once I see how harmless they are. But I already said no, and that’s really where it should stop. There are some people who for whatever reason, think that if their intentions are not to harm, then they are causing no harm. That’s the situation where I think a “no means no” policy is really important.

    In most situations I would just be like “ugh” and avoid the person, but somewhere like a conference where it’s harder to avoid people, I might appreciate someone to tell them “that’s not allowed” so they don’t come up and pinch me all weekend every time they see me because they think it’s so funny how I’m worried about a bruise.

  49. 49
    gwen

    No, the worse thing that can happen to Thunderf00t is that he is charged with assault and battery. I’d LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to hear him give that ‘bars are not safe’ and ‘consent not needed’ spiel to the judge…

  50. 50
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    I’d settle for watching him explain his views to a bouncer as he’s being dragged unceremoniously into the street.

  51. 51
    Hershele Ostropoler

    There is a place in which the “if you don’t want random strangers to hit on you, don’t go there” argument I understand TF to be making about bars actually does hold water: Craigslist Casual Encounters. Because that is literally the only thing it exists for. If you don’t want to get hit on by random strangers, and in pursuit of that goal you refrain from posting an ad on Casual Encounters, you are missing out on nothing that you actually want, so there is no collateral damage.

  52. 52
    elaine

    The thing people such as Thunderfoot don’t seem to get is that consent can be fucking mad-hot sexy.

    It doesn’t have to be “um, would it be ok with you if we have sex? Because, like, um, I want to not rape you?” at a time when you haven’t even flirted much and the leap from polite conversation to someone thinking they can get in your pants can be a pretty big turn off.

    After flirting has progressed successfully, leaning in and whispering huskily [insert thing you like to do] can be enough to give someone massive lady(or man)-boner and have her(him) grabbing you, her(his) bag and coat (she(he) may even forget the coat in a rush to get you to a cab)

    Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. hem.

  53. 53
    davros

    PZ says: “You have to fucking consult the woman.”

    Thunderfoot says: “Facepalm. Yes this is exactly why you are killjoys to the VAST majority of civil, honest respectable folks. IT WAS IN A BAR. I enjoyed it, she enjoyed it”

    OK, she enjoyed it and by implication you had consent. You probably got that unspoken consent through a host of subtle social signals. That’s ok.

    What is not ok is to assume that you can do this to anyone any time you feel like it because ‘it was in a bar’. That is the point that you just don’t get. Its ok because everyone consents and is happy, its not ok if they do not. Surely that is not complicated?

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