Thursday, May 31, 2007

Predatory Men, Predatory Women

Chani's use of the phrase "predatory sex," referring to propositions of admittedly questionable taste, brought to mind recent comments in a post-marriage support group in which I serve as a discussion facilitator.

We were talking about dating and three women told of similar approaches by men. "I have never been asked for a date [since the marriage breakup]," said the one who expressed it best, "but I have been asked for sex several times."

What I found most appalling about this was the manner in which the approach was made. One man told the woman he was approaching that she was "so hot" he was already masturbating about her!

In what barn have these guys learned their etiquette?

Of course, men and women alike are drawn to sex with one another. Both fantasize about it and now and then do something about fantasies privately. (See here if you don't believe that, yes, Virginia, women do, too.) But there's an invisible boundary between what is private and public.

Many American men have given the rest of us a bad name by stepping over that line.

Similarly, less talked about because ... I don't know why, women are perfectly capable of stepping over boundaries in ways that are predatory, sometimes even over the felony line. Trust me on this.

Granted, most women do not mix up violence with sex, most women derive power more surreptitiously than men (millennia on the slave side of the master-slave relationship, Hegel might have said), but just like men, women can objectify, exploit, use and abuse other people in relation to sex.

The same three women who complained about being asked for sex, for example, did not think it even necessary to offer to pay half for dinner (even though refusal is almost certainly guaranteed). They assumed that -- by virtue of what, other than their sex? --they had an automatic entry to a man's wallet. Yet all of them would have assumed that they had the right to decide if and when they would kiss the man.

Let's take this off the table so there is no confusion: I am not proposing for an instant that a dinner buys sex (kissing to whatever).

However, anyone who thinks that the mere act of dressing up tantalizingly and putting on cosmetics (many purchased for their romantically suggestive brand names) deserves a free meal needs to think about what kind of reasoning would justify such a conclusion. It looks to me like sex buying dinner, although I'm open to alternatives.

The point is that both men and women are predatory in that we search for mates like hawks.

Traditionally, men have taken the active part of the hunt and women have tried to draw circles and arrows around themselves to be "found." The distinction between active and passive roles does not erase the mutual desire to find one another and mate.

Of course, there remain boundaries that neither one should cross. Some of these boundaries are clear and spelled out in codes of law, others are unwritten (yet not immutable) social norms.

Less explicit customary limits attach to groups within society (caste, class, ethnicity, etc.). In a society with such a large variety of subgroups and such ease of travel from one to the other, inevitably some misunderstandings will arise.

If the people of the opposite sex you encounter are all crossing your boundaries, I would suggest that you are simply in the wrong circles.

15 comments:

thailandchani said...

I think my final thoughts on this are summarized on my post today. In this current environment, it's very unlikely that I will meet anyone.

My values are hopelessly incompatible with most. :)

Thanks for the rousing discussion over the past few days!


Peace,

~Chani

thailandchani said...

The same three women who complained about being asked for sex, for example, did not think it even necessary to offer to pay half for dinner (even though refusal is almost certainly guaranteed). They assumed that -- by virtue of what, other than their sex? --they had an automatic entry to a man's wallet. Yet all of them would have assumed that they had the right to decide if and when they would kiss the man.

It's called "courting" .. and men have been primarily responsible for that for thousands of years.

And I absolutely believe I have the right to decide when I will express affection...

when I feel it!


Peace,

~Ch

Cecilieaux said...

Thanks also, Chani, for your spirited response.

Regarding your second comment, I find that some people are all for "courting" when the rules apply to another person, less so when the shoe is on one's own foot.

I'll post one last comment on this re your post today.

thailandchani said...

C, I think that's what's so difficult about it ~ and I understand that people are inconsistent.

I just truly, truly don't believe mating is a bartering process. Why would any man want a false expression of affection? Is the physical sensation that overpowering that authenticity doesn't matter?

I find that hard to believe.

Or perhaps I am just misunderstanding. It's possible. I know. :)


Peace,

~Ch

(responded to your comment on my site, too)

Julie Pippert said...

Again, good points.

Yes, sadly, a lot of people appear to have taken social cues from the wild world, possibly of insects. ;)

WRT dinner.

Here, gender roles, courtship, tradition, feminism and manners have all gotten convoluted.

Some men seem to believe that if women want equality, they ought to at least offer dutch on a date.

I've never understood this logic.

The inviter is the host. The host provides for the guest, the invitee.

Equal opportunity is women inviting men just as men invite women.

If I invite, I pay.

That's manners, not an assumption to entry to a wallet.

You are skating awfully close to saying that if there is to be no sex, and women want equal rights to make calls within the date/relationship, then they owe 50% payment throughout (at least by offer).

That's not only illogical, it's offensive. To both men and women.

There is no relation between these women being offended by men asking them for sex, not a date, and yet not believing they ought to offer to pay the host for the event.

Host provides. That's etiquette.

And of course EITHER sex has the right to decide when or if they want to kiss (or more).

That's equality.

Cecilieaux said...

Julie, you bring up something I've heard when you write "If I invite, I pay."

But asking someone out on a date -- unless women do it, which is still far from the norm -- is not mean an invitation in the sense you mean.

"Want to go out for dinner?" is social code for "I'm interested in you, are you interested in me enough to spend a while getting to know me?"

It's not: I'm dying to pay your way through an 8-course meal at the Palazzo Regal.

For your interpretation to prevail, women will have to ask people out for dates a lot more often than I have observed.

Lucy said...

If a (woman) friend suggests going out to dinner after work, I would never assume she planned to pay. I don't see any difference if it's a man who is making the invitation. Hate to do it, but I agree with Cecilieaux on this one.

Geneviève said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
thailandchani said...

I have male friends, very clearly friends, and we pay our own way for lunches, just as I do with my female friends.

Intent is the definitive point. If some guy asks me for a friendly lunch and makes his intentions quite clear that it is because we're pals, buddies, who just happen to enjoy one another's company, I definitely pay.

The idea that a man who is interested in a woman the other way is more worried about his money... well.. yeah. That's offensive.

And that he would further believe that he has the inherent *right* to affection because he bought that meal is nothing more than treating a woman like a hooker.

If that's the case, just be upfront and the woman can say yes or no.

Same for men.


Peace,


~Chani

thailandchani said...

G, right on! You have just come to a core point in this issue. There will never be such a thing as absolute equality.

Well, let me revise that statement: Men and women are not the same. It doesn't mean we are not equal.. but we are not the *same*.


Peace,

~Ch

Donald said...

I can see everybody's point of view on this. I'm just commenting because I don't want to be taken off Cecilieux's list.

Anne said...

"Donald said... "

A man! It's nice to know there is another one around this blog!

;-)

Julie Pippert said...

C, actually, it is, to me, just that: an invitation. Granted, it is a more *formal* one (though this does not imply 5 star black tie---simply the relation, like using vous instead of tu) than the casual get-together of buddies. As such, it requires the more formal manners.

Formal manners say: host provides.

Why is *who* pays such a sore point?

Is this a power struggle?

You wrote:
"Want to go out for dinner?" is social code for "I'm interested in you, are you interested in me enough to spend a while getting to know me?"

It's not: I'm dying to pay your way through an 8-course meal at the Palazzo Regal."

Superb. Then do not take the woman to the Palazzo Regal for an 8 course meal.

Invite her to your home for a cookout. Take her to lunch. Have a coffee.

Or, do not invite her any place that requires payment...simply say, "I'd like to get to know you better...shall we sit at the park on a sunny day and chat?"

Let me be very sure I understand:

A man invites a woman on a date. She is to presume this means he is interested in getting to know her better. (I'm on board here.)

She is also to presume this means he is NOT interested in paying her way, so-called "allowing her access to his wallet."

(And what is this mindset? This concept of "women are avaricious" is as appalling as "men are predatory horndogs.")

If she does not presume this, and makes no offer to pony up her share at the date, then she is what?

If she does kiss and whatever with the man post-date, but has not paid her share, then she is what?

If she does not, then she is what?

And what is the man?

Julie Pippert said...

Chani,

"The idea that a man who is interested in a woman the other way is more worried about his money... well.. yeah. That's offensive.

And that he would further believe that he has the inherent *right* to affection because he bought that meal is nothing more than treating a woman like a hooker."

Yes, succinctly, yes.

Joan said...

Whoever invites pays, unless there is an agreement to go shares. Many people like to use the going out to dinner scenario to demonstrate their wealth or influence, and *enjoy* the deference of waiters!
Men, otw, tend to have more money than women, so it is little hardship for them; if it would be, they can go somewhere cheaper or free. I have never found that accepting a dinner invitation leads to requests for bed!
Age also plays a part, with a son/ daughter taking out an elderly parent; this is a demonstration of power, imho.