Friday, April 25, 2008

Sexual messages

Noticed this interesting item on the F Word. Science Daily has a piece on Why College Men May Hear 'Yes' When Women Mean 'No' which argues that "Faulty male introspection may explain why men so often misinterpret women's indirect messages to stop or slow down the escalation of sexual intimacy". Hmmm.

The study's argument is that men find it more difficult to understand that when a woman says 'its getting late' she doesn't always mean 'let's go to bed'. I think there are a whole number of unwarranted assumptions going on here. Just to raise a few thoughts.

Do these men "misinterpret" women, or do they just do what they want to do?

> I think this plays into the idea of sensitive but weak women and masculinity being about goonish strength. Where's the proof?

> If a man wants to touch someone up whose too polite to say no thanks some men may find it more convenient to just go ahead only stopping when explicitly told because they don't regard the woman as an equal human being but an object to be pawed.

> Why not go the whole hog and say that men "can't help themselves" if you're going come out with that sort of thing? Doesn't this attempt to absolve men of responsibility for their actions?

> When a man goes beyond where a woman wants to go there are lots of other explanations that don't seem to have been explored. Perhaps they think they can persuade a woman to go further? Perhaps they think the pleasure they'll gain from such an act out weighs any unpleasantness the woman may feel? Why assume this is a question of "misinterpretation"?

Does a multiple choice questionnare of 90 college students really give you the authority to start publishing conclusions?

> Hardly a large number of respondents.

> Are college students a reasonable cross section of society? It seems to me that this is the age when people are maturing sexually and often make mistakes that they make less frequently later in life.

> By using multiple choice questions the researchers have already skewed the survey results. It looks to me like they've designed their survey to get the answers they desire.

> By relying on men's conception of themselves you are inevitably going to screen out answers that basically say "I'm an arrogant idiot."

> Where's the context? A couple who've been together twenty years may have have very different communication difficulties than people who are having casual dates. Yet the "conclusions" are all about men in general.

Basically this sort of thing should never be published by anything that has the word Science in the title as the "study" amounts to nothing more than a potentially interesting bit of froth. I mean look at the conclusions that this far from extensive research reaches.

  • Men need to be aware of the many ways that women may say "stop" without using the word "stop."
  • When a man asks himself during intimacy, "Why did she say that?" he should not try to answer the question by imagining what he would mean if he said the same thing.
  • When in doubt, ask. "So it's getting late; does that mean we should stop?"
  • Women should use direct messages.
  • A woman who cannot be direct should at least work a direct message into the indirect one: "It's getting late, so I'd like to stop."
I have a different set of conclusions for both sexes based on no pseudo-scientific data what so ever. Say what you mean and try not to be an arsehole.

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