Friday, November 10, 2017

Even Consent is Insufficient

The Louis CK situation should be considered differently from Weinstein, Trump, Cosby, et al., because he always asked - and received - permission first. But it's currently believed that even consent can be insufficient. As Louis himself said this morning:
"When you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me."
Let's leave aside Louis' weirdo sex prefs (aren't we all supposed to be non-judgemental these days?). Let's also leave aside the obvious fact that power itself is attractive (people with no power have a rough time getting laid). Let's leave aside that beautiful people enjoy a great deal of power over others, and often milk that power for all its worth (for sex and for countless other advantages) with impunity. Let's leave a whole bunch of meshugas on the table and get to brass tacks.

It's been made clear to me that it's "gross" to date women who are younger, and it's "creepy" (and perhaps harassment) to even politely proposition a woman who might be deemed "out of my league" (i.e. has more power than me). I also must avoid sex with women who admire me (because then I have power over them), who might ever conceivably be employable by me or helped by me in their careers (again, POWER), and who have fewer connections and assets than me (POWER!). When there's a power imbalance, even consent is insufficient*.

So who, precisely, am I allowed to fuck? Can someone please tell me?

* - Except for the power of physical attractiveness. If you've got that, go nuts. Enthrall, exploit, and dump as you wish. You're good to go.


Even if consent were sufficient, I still must be prepared to instantly retract and recoil, physically, at any sign of equivocation at any moment in any relationship, because anything less than explicitly/verbally corroborated ardor might be deemed rape. And, as we know, women always know exactly what they want, are never ambivalent or hard to read, never offer positive feedback to assertive men, and they really really love it when guys keep nervously re-verifying their ongoing consent. Consent is a slippery thing, to begin with, and if it's not even sufficient, that means we've gone stone cold crazy.

Update: Facebook discussion of this posting here (be sure to uncompress all the replies).
One last note, since I'm tacking on here:

If Louis CK's sexual preference (which I personally find icky) is to be publicly excoriated because it's icky, then that leaves the door open to relitigate all sorts of sexual preferences. Hey, I don't feel particularly rosy about the practice of chopping off one's penis to "become" a woman, but I've been persuaded - quite rightly! - that I should live and let live. How did that suddenly stop being a thing?

3 comments:

Michelle Miles said...

First of all, transsexuality is not a sexual preference. I have struggled with this since my earliest moments of awareness. Way before puberty.

Btw, I didn't "cut off my penis". Please remove that "ick" factor from your mind. Just so you know, it was inverted like a sock. That may be icky for you as well, but i challenge you to weigh the validity of one person's "ick" versus another person's right to make decisions about their own life.

More importantly, my decision to undergo SRS, affected no one but my immediate family and extremely close friends. The Louis C.K. situation is hardly parallel.

Jim Leff said...


Hi, Michelle!

Yes, of course that's icky for me. But by same token, would you like to know whether I'm a boob, butt, or leg guy? I can't imagine you - or anyone else - would want to know that. Ick! I find it icky to imagine gay sex, but also straight sex between anyone but glamorous looking people (my neighbors, the Schlossbergs, are very nice people, but I don't find it pleasant to imagine them fornicating). But what I find icky or a turn-on is extraordinarily uninteresting. Who the hell cares? Why would it matter?

As far as I'm concerned, sexual practice is like shitting practice. We settle into our approach, and for some it may be more significant than others, but it all happens behind a closed door, and I don't need to hear about it, nor is it my place (or interest!) to judge anyone's toilet practices. Just get it done, and come talk to me afterwards. I do not interact with you, Michelle, as a function of your shitting proclivities (nor do you with mine). That's "off the board", even if it's important, or even defining, for either of us. There's lots of other cool stuff for us to talk about!

This "none of my concern" attitude might represent a sort of a neo-prudishness. I remember that the 1970's - i.e. the height of the "sexual revolution" - were highly sexualized. It WAS appropriate to talk - loudly and often - about ALL this stuff. But that really strengthened majority opinions, making it especially tough for anyone to be gay or alternative in any way back then.

There's been a second revolution in the past decade. We've lost our giddy fascination with the specifics, and vastly increased our toleration. Gay marriage got done neck-snappingly fast because the message was "We just want to love who we love, like any American," delivered by boring, well-dressed, reasonable people, not dudes defiantly flaunting their nipple clamps. We were asked why we should give a damn about other people's sex practices, or judge them, so long as it's consensual. Amazingly, most of us weighed the question, shrugged, and said, "Hey, you're right." Boom! Done!

So here I am, in The Future, living and letting live. I don't need to like, or approve of, other people's stuff, nor do I feel any urge to judge people I like (e.g. you!) by their practices in realms that don't affect me and where they're not hurting anyone.

HOWEVER....the same crusading social justice types who, for once, had offered such an incontestable moral point that many of us on every side of the political aisle found ourselves going along willingly, now demand that I deem Louis CK a monster and a non-person because his sex practices are icky (and, good lord, they are). I'm reeling from the insanity of it.

That's my point. That's my only point.

=========
Btw, I didn't "cut off my penis".
=========

Not to go full Carly Simon on you, but this wasn't about you. And some do amputate. And I absolutely find it icky. And it absolutely doesn't matter. The non-mattering is the point. Either this stuff requires judgement, or we should live-and-let-live, and, having settled into the latter, I'm not grokking the perturbation over the former (again: so long as there's consent).

Finally, my preference re: the boob/butt/leg trinity was also firmly established before puberty, and I, too, wasn't blithely choosing off a menu. I'm powerless to resist - we all are. But we all use the term "preference" for this stuff despite the predetermination. It's a pretty well-established word choice.

And I'm truly sorry you "struggled" with this. You deserve smoothness and delight. We all do, so long as we don't hurt anyone.

Jim Leff said...

PS - Looks like our friend Guy is going to lose that bet re: Juno (if it can stay in this range until the bet closes in September). He was foolish to bet against you.

I assume you're not selling yet (you apparently NEVER sell)?

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