emily-yoffe

In a 2008 essay in the journal In Character, history professor Wilfred McClay writes that as a society we have twisted the meaning of forgiveness into a therapeutic act for the victim: “[F]orgiveness is in danger of being debased into a kind of cheap grace, a waiving of standards of justice without which such transactions have no meaning.” Jean Bethke Elshtain, a professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School writes that, “There is a watered-down but widespread form of ‘forgiveness’ best tagged preemptory or exculpatory forgiveness. That is, without any indication of regret or remorse from perpetrators of even the most heinous crimes, we are enjoined by many not to harden our hearts but rather to ‘forgive.’ ”
—  Emily Yoffe, from What Do Grown Children Owe their Terrible, Abusive Parents?, published in Slate
advocate.com
GLAAD Condemns Slate's Emily Yoffe's Advice

GLAAD called the advice columnist’s post on bisexuality

This part infuriates me:

“Bisexual activists have been extremely critical of Slate’s running of the post, though there has been no formal response from Slate despite “multiple inquiries” and the only response GLAAD received was from Prudence herself thanking GLAAD for their note.”

A thank you note?  Do they think they can patch this over with a thank you note?  A thank you note is what you send your elderly great aunt when she buys you an ugly Christmas sweater, not what you say when civil rights groups point out your flagrantly offensive rhetoric!  What the hell Slate? 

Yoffe owes the bisexual letter writer and the bisexual community an apology.  She needs to make a commitment to doing some kind of bisexual cultural competency training with someone – be it GLAAD or BiNet or BRC.  Or she needs to stop giving bisexual people her so-called “advice”. 

And where the hell is the Outward (Slate’s LGBT section) staff on this?  It is happening on their site on their watch and you’d never know it to look at their section.  Are they going to hold their co-workers accountable to write fairly and accurately about the B in LGBT, or does Outward only exist to shove queer content into a little ghetto so Slate can try to sell us a Lexus? 

- Sarah

Susan Brownmiller

She isn’t “victim blaming.” She is “victim preventing.” Is some of her language not language you or i might use? I am sure. Does that make her victim blaming? I don’t think so. This woman has spent her life trying to unravel the knot of male violence. 

Men do rape drunk Women. Is anyone denying this?

Given that Men rape drunk Women, it is GOOD PRACTICE for Women to avoid getting drunk around Men.

Emily Yoffe also got shit for saying this obviously true statement: http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/10/sexual_assault_and_drinking_teach_women_the_connection.html

And another good blog on this topic: http://phonaesthetica.com/2013/10/22/on-emily-yoffe-and-the-way-things-ought-to-be/

Oh, and I am looking forward to the day when “online radical feminists” learn that Women saying something is not the same as Men saying it.

To this point, please read: https://factcheckme.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/rock-this-town/

Dear Prudence: Q. Appropriate Behavior With Adult Male Friends

One of my guilty pleasures is reading Emily Yoffe’s Dear Prudence advice column. Today’s column had a question from a woman who feminists had properly trained to view innocence as depravity and men (even good, supportive friends) as rapist monsters …

Q: My daughters are 8 and 11. We are friends with our neighbors, a couple who each have a college-age daughter from previous relationships. They are good people, and I trust them to hang out with my kids when I’m home. The man, “Danny,” helped me teach my younger daughter how to ride her bike last summer. My daughters love doing gymnastics and showing off, as kids do. I feel uncomfortable when they show their cartwheels, splits, stretches, and backbends to “Danny.” I feel like it’s bordering on inappropriate to do around friends and neighbors, especially adult men. I trust Danny, and he maintains safe boundaries (he will give the girls a warm hug in return, but he doesn’t pick them up even if they try to jump on him, etc.), but I still want to avoid these situations. Is this just my issue? Should I talk to my girls about this and tell them to stop? How do I do it without making them feel ashamed or sexualizing nonsexual behavior?

A: Let’s follow your logic. According to your concerns, girls can do gymnastics as long as they perform only for an all-female audience. If your girls can flip and split to the amazement of adults, of course they’re going to want to show off their spritelike skills to all in their orbit. There is nothing sexualized about what they’re doing, or the awestruck appreciation of adults, male and female, at that flexibility. What’s really concerning about your letter is that there is not a scintilla of evidence that Danny is anything but a lovely male presence in their lives, a man who himself raised a daughter. Your expression of generalized unease at a man being around girls while they show off is part of an unfortunate trend of thinking of men as potential predators unless proven otherwise. Of course your daughters need to know about privacy and personal boundaries—physical and psychological. But children need adult men in their lives. Please don’t pathologize what sounds like a beneficial relationship to all.

How can feminists deny the paranoia in their movement when children are taught healthy play is automatically sexualized and wrong?

How can feminists deny the misandry in their movement when good men, doing good deeds, are automatically viewed in such an ugly fashion?

On Elliot Rodger(s)


Isla Vista killings: quick, gruesome, with high visibility. But what about the men that kill us slowly? What about what happens in silence?

— Aura Bogado (@aurabogado)

May 25, 2014



There isn’t a woman in my life who hasn’t known a man like Elliot Rodger; not only in some indirect, passing way, but as an intimate member of her family or community. So much of what needs to be said about Rodger and how utterly symptomatic his actions are of the brutally femicidal culture that many of us live in, die in, and survive in, is being said in the Twitter hashtag #yesallwomen. What I feel compelled to think through, and write about here, is the fact of Elliot Rodger being white and Asian (half Malaysian Chinese, specifically). I bring the question of race and racialized misogyny up, not to derail conversations about the violence of white supremacist heteropatriarchy, but precisely because I want to talk about specifics of white supremacist heteropatriarchy’s violence. Just as the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman vitally brought up the question of anti-Blackness within POC and Latino communities especially, Elliot Rodger represents a misogynistic and white supremacist violence that feels viscerally familiar to me as a southeast Asian woman who grew up in California, with men like Rodger. As Trudy of Gradient Lair wrote in How Non-Black People Use George Zimmerman’s Ethnicity As Absolution From Their Anti-Blackness, “White supremacy does not require a person be considered “100% White” (when that does not even really exist in America) to benefit from White or White-passing privilege when it comes to anti-Black racism.”

Asam Ahmad, “We are NOT all Trayvon Martin: Challenging Anti-Black Racism in POC Communities”:

We are NOT all Trayvon Martin. People of color keep getting hella mad for being called out on white passing privilege, for being asked to hold themselves accountable to the ways they are not like Trayvon and more like Zimmerman. So many folks seem to be having a hard time acknowledging that this murderer was a Latino who had light-skinned privilege and played into the rules of White supremacy to get away with murder. The fact that so many white folks are identifying with him should tell you something: it is a marker of how some people of color gain access to the toxic privilege of passing for White, of choosing not to identify themselves as poc but coopting into the system of White supremacy instead. Sometimes we do this for our own safety but sometimes, obviously, we do it for other reasons altogether. These are all realities of this case, and they are realities of a hierarchy that accords privilege and oppression on the basis of the amount of melanin in our bodies.


Elliot Rodger wasn’t a misogynist who was also white. He was a white supremacist misogynist whose obsessive fixation with and objectification of idealized white femininity went hand in wand with anti-Black, anti-Latino and anti-Asian vitriol and hate, particularly when he saw black, dark-skinned Latino and “full Asian” men socializing with the white women to whom he thought himself entitled. Rodgers spoke, seemingly wistfully, of the ways in which being half-white–self-described as descended from “British aristocracy”–differentiated him from other “normal” fully-white people. (The baseline here, of course, is that white = normal.) Rodger speaks explicitly about being obsessed with wealth and status, always linked to whiteness in his descriptions–he’s neither white nor wealthy enough, despite the BMWs, the red carpets, the wealthy neighborhoods. When Rodger chillingly uses the term alpha male in his final video, there’s a crucially racialized nuance to the self-identification: Rodger believed his proximity to whiteness (and wealth) ought to have guaranteed him elevated status and whatever objects of his desire (in this case, white women). On the Monday before the shooting, Rodger wrote on a thread at BodyBuilding.com that “It’s been my life struggle to get a beautiful, white girl.“ When he reacts with dismay at the idea of a white teenager having sex with a Black teenager ("ugly black filth,” the “descendant of slaves,” Rodger wrote) to his “half-white,” wealthy, “aristocratically”-descended self, his reaction evinces nothing less than the logic of an anti-Black racial hierarchy. He describes similar rage upon seeing a “darker-skinned Mexican guy dating a hot blonde white girl.” “I regarded it as a great insult to my dignity. How could an inferior Mexican guy be able to date a white blonde girl, while I was still suffering as a lonely virgin? I was ashamed to be in such an inferior position in front my father [sic].”

In January, Rodger posted a message, entitled “Saw a black guy sitting with 4 white girls,” in which he expressed his outrage over white women socializing with minority men:

‘Today I drove through the area near my college and saw some things that were extremely rage-inducing.

'I passed by this restaurant and I saw this black guy chilling with 4 hot white girls. He didn’t even look good.

'Then later on in the day I was shopping at Trader Joe’s and saw an Indian guy with 2 above average White Girls!!!

'What rage-inducing sights did you guys see today? Don’t you just hate seeing these things when you go out? It just makes you want to quit life.’

When another poster said he was being racist, Rodger responded with disbelief that white women were interested in these “undeserving” men instead of him:

'I don’t understand how these guys do it.

'Here we are suffering on PuaHate when these lesser, undeserving men that I saw today are walking around with hot girls. It doesn’t make sense.

'In another January thread, Rodger responded to a post from an Asian male asking if a certain pair of shoes would help him attract white women. Rodger told him:

'Shoes won’t help you get white girls. White girls are disgusted by you, silly little Asian.

'The other man responded by posting what purported to be photos of himself with an attractive white woman. Rodger dismissed the photos as fake and added:

'Full Asian men are disgustingly ugly and white girls would never go for you. You’re just butthurt that you were born as an asian piece of shit, so you lash out by linking these fake pictures. You even admit that you wish you were half white. You’ll never be half-white and you’ll never fulfill your dream of marrying a white woman. I suggest you jump off a bridge.’


There’s a larger discussion that needs to be had around the Santa Barbara shooting, one in which the violence of misogyny can also be read intersectionally with the violence of white supremacy, class hierarchy, and heteropatriarchy. As Andrea Smith writes in “Heteropatriarchy, a Building Block of Empire,” “It is primarily through sexual violence that colonialism and white supremacy work.” To not speak about white supremacist misogyny and how its logic is internalized by white people and POC, especially men, is to fail the diversity of women who are the victims of that white supremacist misogyny.

Rodger’s words feel viscerally familiar to me; I, and many other women, have known men like Rodger. I’ll go further and say that as a southeast Asian woman of color growing up in the Bay Area, I’ve known Asian men, mixed Asian men, and other men of color, like Rodger. Men who openly worshipped white women and whose self-worth existed in direct correlation to their own proximity to whiteness. Men who routinely degraded the poorer or darker-skinned Asian women and other women of color in their communities. Men who enthusiastically courted and adopted the values of white masculinity and embraced the privileges afforded to them by the model minority myth that allowed them to hope they could transcend the racial hierarchy in which they found themselves. Men who decried the racist depictions of Asian men as “effeminate” and “desexualized” in popular media (rightly so)–not by pointing out the inherent misogyny of such depictions; not by developing true solidarity with Asian women and other women of color; not by seeing the ways in which the racist depictions of Asian men in mass media have long been linked to a larger project of colonial and imperial oppression that brought sexualized violence to colonized people of all genders and made either equally desexualized or hypersexualized global commodities of Asian women and other women of color; not by fighting for the dismantling of colonial white supremacist heteropatriarchy’s gender normative oppression of people of color globally–but, instead, by lamenting their disadvantaged place in a toxic male hierarchy and striving for greater access to precisely the same social markers of the system that oppressed them, reproducing the most toxic expressions of masculine privilege, all of which typically resulted in elevating whiteness: glorifying white masculinity and idealizing white femininity. (I’ll add that I also know plenty men who frequent similar bodybuilding sites as Rodger did, similarly obsessed with the remaking of their bodies into the mainstream masculine physical ideal with which we are saturated, usually delivered to us in white bodies.)

Men who idealized and dehumanized the women they were attracted to, then viciously abused them for not reciprocating (often white or lighter-skinned women), while exploiting, manipulating and abusing the women who were part of their families and communities (often women of color). Men whose interest in–let alone solidarity with–women was entirely contingent upon whether or not those women would fuck them. Men who cruelly policed the sexual and romantic lives of the women around them, both in their families and communities and out, women of color and white women alike–men who regularly demonized Asian women and other women of color who chose white male partners (this heteropatriarchal and heteronormative fixation obsesses specifically over the cis male partners of such women) yet demanded silence and acceptance when they themselves privileged white women and lighter- skinned women of color.

All of the men in my large and largely-working-class Filipin@ family are in relationships with women who, if they are Filipinas, are much lighter-skinned than them; others are in relationships with lighter-skinned southeast and East Asians, white women and white Latinas. None are in relationships with darker-skinned women. Of the many, many, many women in my family, only two have ever had white partners, one of which was me; one has a Black partner, my mother. No guesses on which, between the men and women, got more support from their family and their community. No guesses on whose sexual and romantic desires were given more validity, and whose sexual and romantic desires were policed, pathologized, condescended to and delegitimized.

Indeed, Rodgers reports plenty of men playing crucial roles in his pursuit of women. None, it seemed, were particularly committed to broadening or deepening his sense of the complex humanity and agency of women. Their engagement with Rodger seemed to largely consist of teasing him with their own sexual exploits, engaging in misogynistic and homophobic rhetoric, sometimes offering advice on how to better “get” girls (i.e., objects–the Asian man Rodger unleashes his racism upon is, himself, interested in whether or not buying a pair of shoes will attract white women, displaying photos of himself with white women as if they are prizes, and thus, collaborating in exactly the same economy as Rodger), and recommending self-help books. His father even gives him The Secret, a book notorious for the toxic “law of attraction” ethic that it espouses:

The Secret is not only drivel—it’s pernicious drivel. The obvious question that arises from its claim that it’s easy to get what you want, is: Why do so many people get what they don’t want? As Byrne writes, “Imperfect thoughts are the cause of all humanity’s ills, including disease, poverty, and unhappiness.” Yes, according to The Secret, people don’t just randomly end up being massacred, for example. They are in the wrong place because of their own lousy thinking. (Emily Yoffe, “I’ve Got the Secret.”)

It’s a logic that utterly justifies and enables Rodger’s white supremacy and heteropatriarchal misogyny: it affirms his sense of destined entitlement, sympathizes with his feelings of supreme injustice, and ultimately solidifies his belief in a divine retribution. It’s a logic that utterly effaces the role of white supremacy, colonialist and then imperialist capitalism, structural racism and misogyny; only “negative thinking” is to blame.

I suspect much of the analysis around Rodger’s crimes will focus his misogyny, on gun laws, and perhaps, as is typical of acts of terrorism and brutality committed by white men and men with white privilege, “mental illness.” But to refuse to talk about the link between white supremacist heteropatriarchy and the systematic murder of women does an injustice to the women who are the victims of men like Rodger; it fails the living women who are still living in toxic compromises, usually out of fear for their own safety, with men like Rodger.

Rodger is not an anomaly. He was a protected, privileged, wealthy young white and Asian man. He was deeply misogynist, classist and white supremacist. Misogyny, classism and white supremacy are not mental illnesses, but play integral, operational roles in the functioning of our mainstream culture, utterly central to the ideals and values that saturate every aspect of our lives. Remember the added rape scenes to the series Game of Thrones, which Rodger mentions liking in his manifesto: “a much more exciting world than the one I lived in, with a complex array of characters, a few of whom I could really relate to.” Remember that Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter, whose media depiction was largely focused on issues around mental illness, was also found to have written a misogynistic diatribe. Remember that Rodger’s first three victims were his male East Asian roommates, whom he apparently murdered–a more accurate word would be “disposed of”–simply in order to “secure” his apartment as an intended torture chamber. Those men were murdered not unlike the Asian men murdered in the trailer of Lucy: because they were disposable and in the way. Remember that Rodger also planned to kill his stepmother, the French-Moroccan actress Soumaya Akaaboune, as well as his younger half-brother. He could not, however, fathom killing his white, wealthy father.

His manifesto outlines a vengeful vision of a dystopic future in which all women are kept in concentration camps, with some (no doubt the uppermost in Rodger’s imagined hierarchy) reserved for artificial insemination. I don’t imagine that the darkest and poorest women in this imagined concentration camp would survive long. According to Rodger, once women had been eradicated from the earth, life would improve, as all sexual behaviour would cease and be forgotten. His sexual economy had no room for queer people, trans people, non-binary people, people of myriad genders and sexualities; indeed, there was no room to imagine women who did not want to have sex with men (only women who, punishable injustice of punishable injustices, didn’t want to have sex with him), and men who did not live for fucking and possessing women.

It’s a nightmare of heteropatriarchy, but its source material is the everyday horror of a deeply and murderously misogynist and white supremacist culture, quick to place its marginalized and deemed-worthless members in camps, detention centers, prisons, and other control systems. Because is his fantasy really all that much different, structurally, from the heteropatriarchal regime that orders the world he lived in? How far, really, is his fantasy from your average media universe, government institution, colonial system? How many female characters survive the media they’re invented in? Which ones? Who makes the legal decisions that hugely influence women’s livelihoods, especially the livelihoods of poorer women of color? Andrea Smith: “Activists fail to recognize that if we do not address heteropatriarchy, we do not just undermine the status of women, but we fundamentally undermine our struggles for social justice for everyone. Thus, if we are not serious about dismantling heteropatriarchy, then we are not serious about ending colonialism or white supremacy.”

Rodger’s crime is an act of terrorism much in the same way that white supremacy and misogyny are forms of state and institutional terror, forms of cultural terror. And just as the Zimmerman trial evoked important conversations about anti-And Blackness in Latino and other POC communities, Rodger’s murders also need to be understood not as a singular act of “bigotry,” or even illness, but as utterly symptomatic of the kind of violence that white supremacist heteropatriarchy inspires in those who internalize its values; symptomatic of a culture that idealizes some women, degrades others, but doesn’t ultimately see any of them as truly human, independent from their relations with men.

This summer I’m attending VONA/Voices of Our Nation, a workshop for writers of color. Rodger would have been eligible to apply for acceptance into that workshop. That alone makes it necessary for me as a woman of color to contend with Rodger not only as a white supremacist, but as a person of color with extreme white privilege, whose internalized white supremacy and misogyny had fatal and horrifying consequences.

In several years time, some person will make a movie out of this massacre, I think. I imagine that movie will be like many movies that already exist today, devoted to exploring, humanizing, and ultimately romanticizing the “complex” psychology of brutal, misogynist, harmful men–a narrative we’re inundated with to the point of choking. Rodger isn’t an exception in this American narrative. He’s wholly made by it. He is nothing less than a voice of our nation–in him I see, with terror, my brothers and cousins, classmates, co-workers. What I can do is recognize and condemn that voice–and in doing so, be a voice, too, continuing to fight for and protect the women’s voices we don’t, or won’t, heed.


In the urban neighborhood where I used to live, families who were not from the immediate area would come in fairly large groups to trick-or-treat on our streets, which were safe, well-lit, and full of people overstocked with candy. It was delightful to see the little mermaids, spider-men, ghosts, and the occasional axe murderer excitedly run up and down our front steps, having the time of their lives. So we’d spend an extra $20 to make sure we had enough candy for kids who weren’t as fortunate as ours.

There you are on the impoverished side of Greenwich or Beverly Hills, with the other struggling lawyers, doctors, and business owners. Your whine makes me kind of wish that people from the actual poor side of town come this year not with scary costumes but with real pitchforks. Stop being callous and miserly and go to Costco, you cheapskate, and get enough candy to fill the bags of the kids who come one day a year to marvel at how the 1 percent live.

— 

Emily Yoffe, answering a letter writer complaining about children from poor neighborhoods trick-or-treating in the wealthy writer’s neighborhood.

While Yoffe engages in some truly awful moralizing and victim blaming from time to time, she nailed it here. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Spousal Abuse By A Wife

One of my guilty pleasures is Emily Yoffe’s Dear Prudence advice columns because for the most part her recommendations are dead on and she pulls no punches. Today a man wrote in out of concern for his friend:

Q. Friend in Trouble: I’m very worried about my friend “Ted.” He works two full-time jobs at literally all hours—sometimes all day, sometimes all night, but always 12 to 16 hours per day. His wife does not work and stays home with their young son. She is a warm and friendly person when I am with her, but I have been shocked to hear her scream at Ted on the other end of his cellphone. When I saw Ted recently, he was a shadow of the gentle and funny person I have known since we were kids—exhausted, emaciated, and almost silent when his wife is around, which is all the time. He and his wife have fallen out with his family and the other friends he had before his marriage, and I don’t think he has anyone in his life right now other than his wife. Is there anything I can do for him?

A: From your description, Ted is being abused. Both male and female victims of domestic abuse often hide what’s going on, but there is often a special sense of shame and embarrassment among male victims. It sounds as if his wife utterly controls him and verbally (and possibly physically) abuses him. Isolating your victim from friends and family is a classic abuser move. I think you should contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline and get some advice about how to help your friend. It likely will not be easy to get him to recognize his situation and extract himself, but once you’ve called the hotline, you need to meet with Ted alone, tell him your concerns, and give him some resources.

Follow up by a reader of the above question:

Q. Re: Friend in Trouble: The abused husband “Ted” whom the letter writer describes was me 15 years ago. My then-wife insisted on staying at home with our children while I worked two jobs, becoming so exhausted I got into a serious car crash, yet she berated me for not earning enough. Eventually she escalated to physical violence, including giving me a black eye once. She isolated me from friends and family, and yet I would not take the first step to leave the marriage until she forced my hand. Bravo on your excellent advice.

A: Thanks for writing, and I’m sorry about what you went through. It is important for friends observing this pattern to try to get the victim to recognize the danger.

Feminists pretend that spousal abuse, both physical and emotional, is a one-gendered-way street, where men are always the monsters and women always the victims. Like all things feminists say, fraud, hypocrisy and intimidation are the reality and fantasy their mantra. 

Spousal abuse goes both ways, where men and women can both play the role of monster. To deny that is to deny reality.

advocate.com
Slate's Dear Prudence Changes Her Tune on Bisexuality

No actually, it’s not at all a change of tune, and still biphobic as all fuck, to give bi’s permission to be out if and only if they have a relationship history that makes the visibly bi anyway. Nothing about this is logically inconsistent with her telling the other person to stay closeted because it’s ~*gross oversharing*~ to be out as bi unless you have a specific relationship situation to ~*explain*~.

The larger issue though is why is it 2014 and we still have a journalistic ritual of LGBTs submitting detailed accounts of their personal situations to straight lady columnists to judge whether they deserve to be out.

advocate.com
GLAAD Condemns Slate's Emily Yoffe's Advice

Slate’s advice columnist Emily Yoffe, who writes the advice column, “Dear Prudence,” came under fire this week after she told a bisexual married woman she should stay in the closet. After Yoffe published her problematic response in which she conflated bisexuality with an erotic interest in stuffed animals, GLAAD swiftly responded in a blog post condemning the advice.

From Dear Prudence:

Q. Etiquette for Sleeping With a Former Teacher: I graduated from high school almost 10 years ago. Since then I have lost 50 pounds and go by my formal name rather than my nickname, as I did in high school. Recently I ran into a former teacher at a bar. He struck up a conversation with me, and I quickly realized he didn’t recognize (or potentially remember) me. We hit it off, he invited me back to his place, and because I felt deeply attracted to him, I spent the night with him. It never seemed like a good time to tell him I was a former student of his, so I took the coward’s way out—and didn’t. He wants to take me on a proper date, now, and I know I have to tell him about my lie by omission. I am still struggling to find the right words. Any advice?

A: Let me begin with an aside. As a general rule, if you find you’re really attracted to and interested in someone, sleeping with him on the first date (and this wasn’t even a first date) is not necessarily the best way to start what you hope might be a promising relationship. Good that Mr. Chips wants to see you again, but be prepared that Mr. Chips expects to end the evening in bed. But since this time, you’re going to go to dinner first, find a clever way to give him the big reveal. “You know, Mr. Chips, I’m still smarting over that B-minus I got for my mid-term.” You’re an adult woman long out of high school, so there is absolutely nothing improper about your getting together with a former teacher a decade after the fact.

What. The. Fuck.

Is there ANYTHING that isn’t fucked up and terrible about this answer??? “Just as an aside, you’re a slut for sleeping with him and he’ll never respect you. Also, you should tell him you were a student in the most horrifying way imaginable. Possibly while wearing a schoolgirl uniform?”

After the victim-blaming nightmare that was Emily Yoffe’s “how to avoid getting raped” Slate post last week (you can read Roxane Gay’s predictably beautiful response here–don’t give Yoffe the satisfaction of clicking through the real thing), I thought I’d get a man’s perspective. The following is a recreated transcript of a conversation I had with Abe.

me: I’m genuinely curious. I feel like if I were a in my early 20s and sexually awkward or inexperienced, this whole thing would make me feel super nervous. Were you ever worried you might accidentally rape someone?

Abe: No.

me: Not even like a little?

Abe: Well, I did think about it. I think that’s what it takes, being aware of the possibility and being prepared to do the right thing. You could rape someone without any bad intent, but just because of miscommunication. You have to be aware of that and make sure it doesn’t happen.

me: What about the gray area?

Abe: Here’s the thing about the gray area. There’s really not much of one.

me: Like, what if you’re at a party, and this girl seems totally into having sex with you, and you know she’s drunk, but you don’t know how drunk she is, and you really want to have sex with her. And she’s saying “yes.”

Abe: Well, you can usually tell if someone is drunk enough to not be able to consent.

me: But what if you can’t?

Abe: Then you can just say, “Why don’t we hang out tomorrow?” and not have sex. If you can’t tell, then you can just stay on the light side of the gray area.

me: Yeah, but what if you haven’t had much sex and you really really want to and you don’t think that she’ll want to have sex with you if she’s not drunk?

Abe: I think you’ve answered your own question.

me: What if you’re so drunk you can’t tell how drunk she is?

Abe: Being drunk doesn’t turn you into a monster. You can still make moral choices.

That’s it folks! Be safe out there and use your brains!

This Week

“My husband and I have been married for 15 years, more than twice as long as he was married to Robin. My daughter is 13 now and long ago outgrew the chair that Robin’s family gave her. I keep it stored safely with her bassinet, the clown rattle, and her favorite jacket printed with elephants. I hope someday a granddaughter might use these things. If so, when that little girl is old enough, I will tell her the story of her other grandmother, Robin.” - My Husband’s Other Wife: She Died, so I Could Find the Man I Love (Emily Yoffe for Slate

“WHAT’S UNDER THE HOOD? A full 3 cylinders of mumbling misery, making 74 tortured horsepower.” - It’s Cheap, but Is It Overpriced? (John Pearley Huffman for The New York Times)

“It’s difficult to imagine Tinder coming from Silicon Valley. The key to Tinder—the ‘double opt-in'—is an idea born of real-world experience (this is what you want in a bar—to know that the person you want to hit on wants you to hit on him or her) as opposed to sophisticated computer metrics. For once in the tech world, the socially gifted are leading the socially stunted." - How The Tinder App Became A Success (Emily Witt for GQ Magazine)

"And therein lies the problem of side projects. They will either muddle along as a fun side project and provide a necessary distraction from your main work, or they will grow and demand your attention.” - Everything dies. Sometimes they die well. (Mike Monteiro for Medium)

“A key team member takes with her a piece of the company’s soul. But the situation also presents an opportunity to make sure that the person’s values stay with the company, so I sat down and tried to identify the principles of Jamis’s success.” - How to Handle Losing Valued Employees (James Fried for Inc.)

One Christmas evening when I was 9 years old my whole family went to see Goldfinger and I stayed stunned in my seat until the credits rolled because I had to catch the name of the man I now loved. About 25 years later I was rushing through the lobby of an office building lobby in Los Angeles when I literally bumped into Sean Connery. He said, “Excuse me,” softly with that Scottish burr, I looked up and exclaimed, “My God!” and he smiled indulgently when my knees buckled.