Nibbles: Game of Thrones’ Necessary Nudity, Conference Sex(ism), Inmate Sues Over Lack of Porn, Summer Sex Tips, Dangerous Dildos

by Violet Blue on July 7, 2011

Alfie Allen and Esmé Bianco Game of Thrones: Wolf and the Lion

  • (This is one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time.) No operation that’s producing this much good TV needs to be airing so much female nudity; that’s the specious starting point of LA Times Mary McNamara’s column, the notion that nudity is not one ingredient in an R-rated stew of elements on HBO series – “Game of Thrones” in particular – but something that a cable channel shows because the programs themselves aren’t interesting otherwise. In defense of HBO’s “unnecessary” nudity – Game of Thrones (Salon.com)
  • Over the weekend, a full-blown scandal erupted in the atheist and skeptical [and science] communities over sexism and attitudes about sexual harassment. It started with a fairly straightforward story about a clueless man putting a woman in an uncomfortable situation. This point was driven home when Richard Dawkins spoke up about it. Through his own words, he proved quite clearly that a lot of men just don’t get it. Richard Dawkins and male privilege (Discover Magazine)
  • (Perhaps this would have helped?) “If you are deploying wingmen, if you are approaching this as you would a gazelle hunt, where the goal is to isolate a target from the herd and make them vulnerable so they will succumb to you, where getting the target stupefyingly drunk is a desirable means to an end, then you might get laid — I don’t deny that those tactics works for unscrupulous people — but you will have forfeited the title of Decent Human Being, and we’d rather you didn’t come to our meetings.” The Decent Human Beings’ Guide to Getting Laid at Atheist Conferences (ScienceBlogs, via Eros Blog)

vintage VD poster Loaded

  • What is fascinating about this evidence [in a new paper, in press at Evolution and Human Behavior] is that the authors find that if the man in the couple is very attractive and/or very masculine, the woman is significantly more likely to have an orgasm either at the same time as her partner, or just after. Simultaneous Orgasms More Common with Hot Men (Dollars and Sex)
  • Midori’s summer sex tips: Many of you are heading off to your chosen summer retreats, from mountains, lakes, beaches, and even to exotic far-flung resorts. With due apologies for my southern hemisphere friends and their winter, here are a few do’s and don’ts. Summer Vacation Sex Do’s & Don’ts (Midori’s Livejournal)
  • A piece published in Spiegel Online last Friday reports on an effort by Germany’s Green Party to push the government to do something about the use of phthalates and other chemicals in the manufacturing of sex toys. The paper is titled “Sexual Health as a Consumer Protection Issue.” Their argument is that if the government regulates other consumer products to protect the public, they should not be treating products used for sexual pleasure any differently simply because they have to do with sex. German Greens Warn of Dangerous Dildos (About: Sexuality)
  • A Michigan jail inmate has filed a federal lawsuit, saying authorities are violating his civil rights by denying him access to pornography behind bars. Kyle B. Richards, 21, is in the Macomb County Jail awaiting sentencing Aug. 2 in a bank robbery case. He pleaded guilty Thursday. Lack of porn violates Constitution, inmate says (Chicago Tribune)

Violet Blue

The London Times named Violet Blue "One of the 40 bloggers who really count" and Self Magazine named TinyNibbles one of the “Best Sex Resources for Women.” Blue is an autodidact and pundit on sex and technology, hacking and security, porn for women, privacy and bleeding-edge tech culture. She is a journalist for ZDNet, CBS News, CNET; she's an educator, speaker, crisis counselor, volunteer NGO trainer, and the author and editor of over 40 award-winning books.

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{ 12 comments }

1 Falbert July 14, 2011 at 5:41 am

[dispirited]

Guess that as a thoughtful, considerate fellow, (IMO) I’ll never again get into an elevator when there is already and solely one female present. “Oh, no thanks, I’ll get the next one, so that you don’t feel vulnerable.”

What’s a shy, thoughtful fellow to do, if society’s rules are that the women doesn’t approach the man ( though I recognize this is weakening) and as Brett says:
>Indeed, it’s better if they don’t approach at all.

It’s a no-win situation. For everyone.

[/dispirited]

2 brett caton July 13, 2011 at 4:11 am

An atheist conference was side tracked by a woman who was creeped out because a guy had failed to read her mind. She had told her friends that she didn’t want anyone trying to pick her up. This guy as far as we know, wasn’t listening in to this conversation, because if he was that would be genuinely creepy.

So the most famous guest objected in the form of a parody. Forget about Female Genital Mutilation; it’s more important to talk about how some guy (who was not at all hot!!) dared to speak to her.

The excrement hit the spinning blades. How dare a man speak up! He’s privileged and so should know his place and not attempt to mock his betters! There was general agreement amongst the women and a few of the men that Men Just Don’t Get It. A woman’s pain was special. Not the FGM pain, that wasn’t worthy of attention; but of the pain of being chatted up by a guy who was Totally Not Hot.

Rhubarb, rhubarb. Burn his books! March against the Dawkins! He’s white, old, and relatively successful; a natural enemy of all that’s decent! Everyone agreed (at least everyone who wasn’t privileged and so had the right to an opinion).

And the ones who didn’t? Gender traitors and potential rapists. Who needs them anyway? Proper skepticism is all about finding the *right* sort of people and listening to them, not being bothered with troubling dissidents and cries to cite your references when you claim that a busy hotel’s elevator is the best known hunting ground of the sexual predator.

No woman should ever feel uncomfortable by a man’s approach. Indeed, it’s better if they don’t approach at all.

3 jkp July 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Dawkins was over the top. But that doesn’t change the fact that he happened to be right in this instance. The woman at issue wasn’t attacked. She simply felt uncomfortable about the situation.

Why did she feel uncomfortable? Because she allowed herself to be in a situation where she felt vulnerable.

I really don’t care about addressing how the ‘man’ can better approach women. Instead of complaining about how mean old guys may inadvertently (or otherwise) make women feel uncomfortable. The better question is: how can a woman put herself in an advantageous position without having to either (a) always be accompanied by a protector or (b) curtailing her activities outside the home.

One of the best ways to do this is to *actually* empower the woman with her own self-defense training. And not simply unarmed training. Everyone knows that armed training beats unarmed any day of the week.

For those with an open mind on the issue, I recommend this website:

http://www.corneredcat.com/

4 Glynnis July 7, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Ok, that clarification was good, because the distinction you were making wasn’t quite clear before.

5 Billy Bob July 7, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Glynnis, please read what I wrote a little more carefully. I tried to make it clear that it’s ok for her to be concerned for her safety, just like it’s ok for me to be concerned for my safety if I’m walking in Oakland at night and there is a group of male teenagers walking behind me. Most men don’t rape, most groups of teenagers don’t rob. But maybe it might be the 1 in 1000 exception in the elevator with you or on the street behind me so no one can complain if you exit the elevator in the lobby instead of on your empty floor or if I decide to go into a populated bar and wait for the group to pass. It’s your own call about what is safe or not safe. BUT it is ridiculous to complain about their behavior when they did not actually do anything unreasonable. The woman can say “oh he should have realized how uncomfortable and scared I was so he should have not talked to me or he should have exited the elevator” just like I could say “well those people should have realized they were a scary, threatening group and gone to the other side of the street to make me feel safer”… but neither statement is reasonable.

6 Glynnis July 7, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Billy Bob, I think you are presenting a false choice there at the end of your comment. The world isn’t divided up into straight-talkin’ vs. sneaky. I (and I don’t think Violet is either) am not contesting that the guy’s proposition was wrong, but that the forum in which he made it was not as good as it could have been.

Yeah, it sucks that people are judged by the actions of their predecessors, with no regard to the behavior they themselves have exhibited. But to be all outraged at *women* because we do, in fact, take past experience into account when judging the behavior of a new dude is misdirected anger. You’ve got the right idea when you say that “we should instead look at the real issues about why women might not be safe in our society and fix those issues.” But until those underlying issues are addressed – namely, that it is reasonable for women to look out for our own safety because we can’t assume we will be safe – it is not okay to attack women for not judging each individual dude like the unique flower that he is.

Nobody lives in a vacuum in which our behavior is only judged against itself and not against other people like us. If I travel, to some extent I represent Americans, and there’s no use getting upset about that. Similarly, when I interact with people, to some small extent I represent women, or white women, or (insert feature here).

Thank you, Violet, for sharing your story.

7 Billy Bob July 7, 2011 at 6:00 pm

No one is saying that the woman had not right or no reason to be concerned. I’m saying it’s not the guy’s fault and some of the posts I’ve read that imply he was at fault are bullcrap. He saw someone that he thought was attractive and made a straightforward proposition. He has no control over societal norms, the behavior of other males, or any past experience of the particular woman. His choices were to say nothing or say something. Saying nothing is stupid because if you want something and never ask, you’ll never get what you want. So he says something and gets labeled a bad, creepy, person. What crap.

If the woman felt concerned then no one can say those feelings were not valid, but they were her feelings and she felt them. However, if she felt threatened then rather than blaming the guy for simply being a man who made a reasonable proposition, we should instead look at the real issues about why women might not be safe in our society and fix those issues. Chastising the man for speaking to her is the wrong approach.

Finally, his approach may have not “done himself any favors”, but it was honest and clear. Which is more dangerous: the guy who says “I’m attractive to you, would you be interested in coming to my room for sex?”, or the guy who comes up with something more innocuous to lure you away?

8 violet blue July 7, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Okay, I’ll chime in, and with a bit of personal sharing. I’ll start by identifying as a girl that is considered conventionally attractive and dresses as a feminine woman. I am also relatively short and petite. Why am I telling you this? Because it means I communicate signifiers of attraction that many men (not most) consider an invitation to initiate contact whether I desire that contact or not.

That is just the way of the world, and I have learned to live in it, with quite a lot of empathy for my straight male friends that don’t have the best communication skills. With this, I’ve needed to fine-tune my spider senses to try and detect when a guy is being clueless (harmless) or problematic, and suss out the safest way to get myself out of any problematic situation. That’s the thing: all of this is going through every smart woman’s mind when she is approached in any way by a guy.

Paranoid? No: smart women are constantly tracking their own personal safety. We don’t want to get assaulted. We don’t want to live a in a world where every guy is a potential problem, but if we don’t err on that just a fraction, the life-changing results of our error will haunt us the rest of our lives.

Guys have tried to follow me home, tried to follow me back to my room at conferences, and other unsavory things. When I wrote my WWDC article, I got an email from a woman who had been cornered and groped at the very same party we were at – while her boyfriend was only two groups of people away. Most guys are not like this, but some are, and it ruins everything for the cool guys.

The man in the elevator was not being inappropriate – or appropriate, and I’ll get to that in a minute – but he also wasn’t doing anything to dispel any concern that any woman might feel in that situation. You can argue she overreacted, but he wasn’t doing himself any favors.

That’s the key. If I hit on a guy in an elevator and asked him back to my room during the ride and he didn’t want it, he’d say no thanks, and be on his way with a casual laugh. He wouldn’t worry about being followed to his room or dealing with my anger over being rejected because conventional thinking reads that “a woman wouldn’t do that.”

And I’m sorry, but guys, if you want to love us and be on our side, you have to remember you have a lot of your own kind working against your best intentions.

Physicality:

Keep in mind that a common tactic of rapists (on the street, not in the home) is to strike the victim on the back of the head. Women get overpowered in many ways. Rapists are cowards.

But, I am streetwise. Which is why i want to give a bit of personal share to inform the idea of threat in an elevator, and bigger or smaller men versus stronger or weaker women.

I have survived two attempted rapes. One was on the street and one was in my home. I’m pretty sure I sent the street boy to the hospital, and the man that entered my room will think twice about ever doing that again, as you never know who owns a gun these days. That all sounds bold, but when I ran away from the guy I left on the ground in the street, I was crying and screaming because I was so fucking scared.

I consider myself a VERY strong woman. I was lucky that my childhood sport was martial arts. When I lived on the streets as a teen, I was in many fist-fights, and can hold my own in a bar brawl. I keep myself strong, and try to keep up with my boxing/kickboxing interests. Force something physical on me in an elevator that I don’t want, and I’ll do my best to make sure you never write a line of code with that arm again. But if I turn around, I’m in trouble.

I’ve been the ‘girl in the elevator.’ I’ve been the girl wishing the guy would invite me back to his room (he didn’t! dammit!), and the girl having a strange dude ask me back to his room. Random elevator propositions are a little too much. Ask me to coffee the next day, ask me to coffee in the lobby that night even – but make it somewhere neutral where the power is balanced and the environment doesn’t include a bed and a closed door. Feeling trapped in an elevator is one thing, but he had options to ask her out, and he picked the one that most directly communicated “potential fuck.”

And that’s the answer to the unspoken question here: how do I avoid being “that guy” in a situation like this? Easy: invite her to a neutral space, or to something you and your friends are already doing.

When a guy does that, you just have to calculate your safest exit. I usually give a polite ‘no thanks, have a good night’ and keep an eye out for the rest of the conference in case he’s one of those guys that takes rejection as something they need to get you back for.

However, I will say – that Richard Dawkins guy has some issues. What a dick!

9 Glynnis July 7, 2011 at 2:16 pm

You know, I was with Dawkins until he clarified why he thought it was ridiculous that an elevator would be considered a dangerous place. Just because you could leave it quickly doesn’t mean it isn’t and isolated place which *could* be dangerous (two comparable examples: dark alleys and stairwells), and just because a woman could escape quickly doesn’t mean that she wouldn’t have been under attack. What if the dude’s goal is just to make her frightened but not physically harm her, and he gets off on that? Is that okay? And if he does attack her, just because she can escape easily (no guarantee that someone will certainly be around on the next floor the moment you get off), that doesn’t negate the attack itself, right?

To respond a bit to Billy Bob, who brings up some good points about the unlikelihood of stranger assault and relative strength, I would suggest that it is still not irrational for women to fear assault. Someone who communicates in some way that he can’t see why a woman would be uncomfortable is suspect. For example, my mother once went on a hiking date with a new guy who brought – no joke – duct tape and a huge knife. He honestly had no idea how sketchy that looked. She was totally right to listen to her gut. Demonstrating a basic understanding of the potential date’s perspective – like, say, opening the elevator door before asking her to the room – is a low bar to jump.

10 Billy Bob July 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm

I’d like to also point out that while a large man might be able to physically overbear a woman, there are plenty of women who are more physically powerful than most men. Further, any woman with a handbag could be carrying a taser, gun, knife or other weapon. So if a man were in an elevator with a woman and she asked him to her room, would it be reasonable for him to then complain that he felt threatened because she might have wanted to get him alone then murder and rob him?

Nearly all women are not planning to murder and rob you, nearly all men do not want to rape you, nearly all black men do not want to commit any sort of crime, and in general people in the US are civilized toward each other. Certainly you should keep yourself safe and avoid situations where you feel threatened or unsafe. But blaming someone because they made you uncomfortable by doing nothing except politely asking you a question? That’s bullshit.

The situation is different if he was rude, lewd, or aggressive. But from what I read that was not the case. She had the right to feel uncomfortable, but that discomfort was not the man’s fault.

11 Billy Bob July 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Asking someone who is in an elevator with you if they’d like to visit your room is well within the realm of things that people are be allowed to do. Sure, he might have been a rapist, but as it turns out he wasn’t. Assuming that all men might be rapists is like assuming that all black men might be muggers… it’s just negative stereotyping.

12 Cyäegha July 7, 2011 at 5:26 am

About the Rebecca Watson/Richard Dawkins thing, here’s what I take from Phil Plait’s article (please note that I am not talking about Rebecca Watson’s original speak):

- As a man, I’m necessarily assumed to be capable of assaulting a woman, until proven otherwise. Which, of course, is not sexist at all.

- If I ask out a woman in a less than perfectly tasteful way*, I am “potentially assaulting”** her. Which, of course, is not overreacting at all. And certainly doesn’t blatantly disregard statistics, which show that said woman is 3 times more likely to ever be raped or sexually assaulted by one of her friends or relatives (and probably in her own home to boot) than by a stranger (at least over here, I’ll admit to not having checked US figures on this – but I doubt they’re very different).

- As a feminist man, I’m supposed to treat women as equal, yet, at the same time, I’m supposed to treat them as more fragile and more easily frightened than men – to the point that, for a woman, just “being alone on that elevator with that man was a potential threat, and a serious one”***. Which, of course, is not schizophrenic at all… And this is my main problem here. Saying that men who aren’t perfectly tasteful in their pick up attempts (but who apparently still know to take “no” for an answer) are “potential assaulters” isn’t that far from saying that women who “dress immodestly” are “potential victims”. Both are insulting, and both are gross generalizations that are not founded on any statistical evidence that I am aware of.

I’m sorry, but I do not believe that we will ever end gender-based discriminations by teaching members of one gender that it’s perfectly normal to irrationally fear members of another gender.

*: I initially wanted to add something like: “obviously by her standards, which I’m supposed to know beforehand” – but I’ll give the author the benefit of the doubt on this specific point, since the particular situation discussed here was clumsy by about anyone’s standard anyway.
**: I’d love to see a legal definition for a “potential crime”.
***: I wonder how Phil Plait would react to someone saying that being alone in an elevator with a black person is “a potential threat, and a serious one”.

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