Short Take: The “Easy” Button

We all make choices. Some are hard, involve work, effort and occasionally the spreading of vinegar. But what sort of nutjob would try to elevate their decision to take the easy path into an excuse? You had to ask.

For years, my female friends and I have spoken, with knowing nods, about a sexual interaction we call “the place of no return.” It is a kind of sexual nuance that most women instinctively understand: the situation you thought you wanted, or maybe you actually never wanted, but somehow here you are and it’s happening and you desperately want out, but you know that at this point exiting the situation would be more difficult than simply lying there and waiting for it to be over. In other words: saying yes when we really mean no.

It never ceases to amaze me, old man that I am, to learn of the intuitive skillz of women to understand things that men just don’t get. Most guys would believe that “yes means yes” means yes. After all, she said “yes.” But now I learn that “saying yes” really means “no.” 

There are other names for this kind of sex: gray zone sex, in reference to that murky gray area of consent; begrudgingly consensual sex, because, you know, you don’t really want to do it but it’s probably easier to just get it over with; lukewarm sex, because you’re kind of “meh” about it; and, of course, bad sex, where the “bad” refers not to the perceived pleasure of it, but to the way you feel in the aftermath.

This, too, I didn’t know. In all my years, I can’t recall a single time when us guys were engaged in a deeply philosophical locker room discussion that included the words “gray zone sex.”

Sometimes “yes” means “no,” simply because it is easier to go through with it than explain our way out of the situation. Sometimes “no” means “yes,” because you actually do want to do it, but you know you’re not supposed to lest you be labeled a slut. And if you’re a man, that “no” often means “just try harder” — because, you know, persuasion is part of the game.

Sales people try this on me all the time. I remember when some clerk at a high end store tried to shame me into paying a delivery charge for a chair I bought there, telling me it was only a “nominal charge,” implying I was a cheap bastard if I didn’t agree to pay the purchase price plus local delivery. I replied, “Did you think I bought the chair so I could visit it here? If it’s only a ‘nominal charge,’ then why don’t you cover it out of your sales commission?”

It would have been easier to just pay the delivery charge, but I chose not to take the easy path.

In the 1970s and ’80s, when Take Back the Night rallies began cropping up on college campuses, a new antirape slogan emerged: “No means no.” Four decades later, that mantra has been all but replaced by a newer version of the consent standard, this one focused on the word “yes,” or what’s known as the “affirmative consent” model.

There was a useful clarity to the old slogan, “no means no.” If you said no, then the salesclerk knew you weren’t going to pay the delivery charge. She could try to humiliate you into paying it by making you feel cheap, but then you just had to stick to your guns and repeat the “no.”

The “newer version” lacks that clarity, both because it fails to reflect how most encounters happen, where there is no open discussion about sex acts as two sweaty bodies entangle, and because affirmative consent doesn’t actually mean uttering the word “yes.” Enthusiastic consent can be given by acts as well as words, even if the acts are awkward and regrettable.

But if “yes” means “no,” and the only distinction is that a woman pressed the easy button so the aftermath of “yes” means rape, then we have a failure to communicate.

But what about when “yes” isn’t really an enthusiastic affirmative — or an affirmative at all?

Then you chose poorly, because any other view is untenable. Even women need to be responsible for what they say and do at some point. Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean you get a free pass from responsibility. Now, that’s not so hard to understand, is it?

14 thoughts on “Short Take: The “Easy” Button

  1. B. McLeod

    Even if all men were mind readers, how could we know whether a woman might “feel bad afterwards” even though she found the sex pleasurable? How can the meaning of words possibly turn on how a person feels afterwards?

    1. SHG Post author

      Your attempt to substitute your logic for her feelings shows how you are a tool of the patriarchy and spend too much time in men’s locker rooms.

  2. Erik H

    but you know that at this point exiting the situation would be more difficult than simply lying there and waiting for it to be over. In other words: saying yes when we really mean no.
    This doesn’t make any sense.

    If the alternative is worse than the current situation, then you don’t “really mean no.” If you did mean it, you’d be stuck with the alternative. You can’t claim that the alternative is less preferable, and claim to prefer it, at the same time.

    They are using the words “really mean no” to convey their unhappiness at being faced with two non-ideal choices. Which, no pun intended, welcome to fucking life.

      1. Kathleen Casey

        It doesn’t. And it’’s demeaning and makes people stupider but it attracts readers probably and therefore ad income . The writer may have a following for this shit.

        Still. Shouldn’t some things be private? Between her and her therapist?

  3. Dan

    Jonathan Edwards makes an observation about free will that is simultaneously obvious and insightful: we choose to do what we most want to do at the moment of decision. If she said yes, that’s what she most desired to do at that moment.

    Unless, of course, women are too weak, infantile, or stupid to be responsible for their choices–which is exactly what they’ve been trying to convince us isn’t the case for a good many years now.

    1. SHG Post author

      There was a time when equality was the goal, and that required women to be as “tough” as they claimed to be. The neo-feminist view is to have it both ways, equal when it serves their purpose and relieved of responsibility when it serves their purpose as well. The irony and hypocrisy is obvious, but to their credit, they’re managing to pull off it off as far as the woke are concerned.

  4. Patrick Maupin

    You’ve been pushing everybody’s buttons for so long, they’re all “Easy” to you. But don’t overdo it.

  5. John Barleycon

    The Easy Button? is that sort of like the G spot, or more like one of those buttons an a weaponized submarine/spaceship?,c_limit/171120_a21414.jpg

    One of these days you will realize that shaving your scrotum, as a sign of solidarity that you are mindful of the special challenges and pressures that women face, was not enough…

    P.S. Are you going to have a contest to see who can write the best “Now that you are infamous, you should become a guest writer at SJ” solicitation letter to Alex?

    1. Lee

      Except when “no means yes.” I am so glad I’m married to woman who thinks most of this “feminist” drivel is bullshit, but I fear for my three sons (Especially the one going to that large university in Austin).

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