“No” Meant “Try Harder”

A beautiful demon rapes a human, who enjoys it.  The demon then accuses the human of raping her.

When I composed this scene for my novel Quantum Cannibals (publication date Nov. 2018), I thought it fictional.  In the contemporary non-fictional world (such as it is), the #MeToo movement has brought the demons out from their hiding places.

Elvis’ first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show”
Elvis’ first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show”

Personally, I’m glad I’m an old fart, happily married to a beautiful woman.  I’d hate to be on the make today, looking for ladies to sle*p with.  It’s way too complicated.  Despite the long-ago success of the sexual revolution, things today are more testy than they were when Ed Sullivan was afraid to show Elvis’

gyrating hips on Sunday TV.

An approved style of life

Sexual relations in the mid twentieth century
sex in the mid twentieth century

Today there’s no stigma attached to pre-marital sex, and adultery is considered by many as an approved style of life.  A girl who sleeps around is no longer considered bad; just as guys are supposed to sleep around, so are women.  In literature, in film, all kinds of sexual behavior is tolerated, even praised.

A problem now is that every consent for nookie carries with it the implied right for the woman to withdraw or deny consent subsequent to the act.  Even if the woman sends you love notes after you’ve been together, it doesn’t mean that she still consents to the sex you already had.  And even if you have done nothing together, you can still be convicted or your reputation ruined, just on the basis of a woman’s accusation.  It can be vague, it can be inconsistent, but the accusation is accepted (unless of course she has the wrong political affiliation).

Go away before I call the police

In olden times it was simple.  “Yes” meant “yes,” “no” meant “try harder” or “get lost.” “Go away before I call the police” meant “no.”  “Maybe some other time” meant “up your game.”  I had some difficulty with the jargon.  When a woman told me “no,” or “go f*ck yourself,” I took it as a definitive rejection.  I can’t tell you how many times women got upset with me because I stopped trying when they said “no.”  I would have had many more notches on my Winchester

Notches on a Winchester rifle stock
Notches on a Winchester

if I had relied on the simple jargon of those times.  Then again, if I had always interpreted “no” as “try harder,” I might have ended acting like Bill Cosby.  Better to do without than turn into a sex demon.  Some behavior, whether or not it’s part of the approved style of life, should be rejected.

These days who knows what yes, no, and go f*ck yourself mean.  It’s even worse.  A man might see a gorgeous blonde with a nice rack and want to get to know her.  Then he finds out she identifies as a guy.  Then he finds out she’s gay.  Is she a gay man, or a gay woman?  If the former, it means she wants to be with a guy, so maybe it’s good.  If the latter, it means… well, who the hell knows what it means?  Perhaps she/he/it identifies as a Catholic priest and is celibate or looking for someone way younger than you.

“…between the approved style of life and the assumed structure of reality, there is conceived to be a simple and fundamental congruence such that they complete one another and lend one another meaning.” Clifford Geertz, anthropologist

Life gets more complicated all the time.  It’s not just advanced technology or an opaque economic system.  The fact is that Western culture is being dismantled and reconstructed, taking a principle from here, a value from there, and duct-taping them into some kind of bizarre structure.  The pieces, beliefs, and doctrines no longer fit each other, and Western society is teetering.  The “approved style of life” and “the assumed structure of reality” are no longer congruent.  Perhaps that’s why so many people look favorably at Islam, with its unequivocal social and sexual roles, where the primary value is to “submit.”  Freedom, which most westerners view as essential to their approved style of life, will vanish into the midden heap of the tolerated structure of reality.

Do we want to lose our freedom? If the answer is no, try harder.

One thought on ““No” Meant “Try Harder”

  1. As provocative as I would expect from you, Nathan, and as usual, I agree with some of what you say, and disagree wildly with some. I am intrigued by your idea that Western culture is being dismantled and reassembled with pieces that don’t fit and I think there may be some truth to that. Then again, perhaps that needs to happen as our world continues to shrink? Maybe this kind of cultural absorption and redistribution is simply a by-product of globalization?

What's your take?