#talkaboutit Rough Sex, Boundary Pushing, Expectations

This has been retweeted in #talkaboutit for a bit, it's Louis C.K. doing standup. Transcript and thoughts below the cut.
I remember one night, I was with a girl, I was 20 years old, I was already doing standup, and I did a show in Washington D.C. After the show one of the waitresses came back to my hotel room - she was really cute, and we were making out, in my hotel, and she's into it, she's humping me.
So I started to put my hand up her skirt, and she stops me. I'm like, uu, okay, so we're making out more, and I start putting my hand up her ass, and she stops me. So after a while, she went home, nothing happened.
And then the next night, I saw her at the club, and she goes, uh, hey, what happened last night?
I was like, *raises eyebrows, shrugs* what?
She goes, how come we didn't have sex?
I was like, 'cuz you didn't want to.
She's like, yes I did, I was totally into it.
I was like, w-why did you keep stopping me?
'Cos I wanted you to just go for it.
I was like, what does that mean?
She says, I'm kinda weird, I get turned on when a guy gets frustrated and just holds me down and fucks me. Like, that's a big turn-on for me.
I was like, well, you should've told me! I would have happily done that for you.
And she says, no, it has to feel real and dangerous.
Like, what are you, out of your fucking mind? You think I'm just gonna rape you, on the off-chance that, hopefully you're into that shit? *pauses, audience applauds* What kind of an idiot -- ooh, I'm kinda getting a rape-y vibe from this girl. I suspect she might enjoy being raped, maybe that's her thing. I don't want to ask 'cos that would ruin it, so, just take a shot and rape her, what the hell. What's the worst thing that could happen after all?
I laughed when he gets to his punchline of "you think I'm going to rape you on the off-chance you're into that shit?" Partly because, that should be the way to respond. It reminds me of this thread, on the guys who don't rape, despite being in circumstances where it could have been so easy. I have mixed feelings about this phenomenon, there're a ton of things happening in this video, let me break it down:

1) When women protest against rape, a lot of people say, "but women like it rough anyway. They like it when men plow ahead without asking for permission because asking for permission is pussification."

2) When both men and women protest one side or the other, there's always a smackback: "but 90% of the time men are assholes and will take advantage of the situation" (I actually got this last winter I was home) OR "but not all men are like that!"

3) Women People who DO enjoy rough sex and boundary-pushing coming away dissatisfied because they didn't get that from their partner, operating under the expectation that partners WILL push boundaries without being asked (like that's a good thing), because of stuff that goes on in #2 -- the assumption that "real men are assertive" and "women have to be passive", or maybe it's not an assumption of gender expectations, but certainly an assumption of what your partner is supposed to be like. 

I find it difficult to parse how to explain

1) Consent is necessary;

2) Stop generalizing about 90% of men because you're not that fucking special;

3) There ARE venues to pick up men who will boundary-push but taking it for granted that it WILL happen is not so hot for other women.

I can see all sorts of unpleasantness from the spread of this vid, like "see, hur hur, women like it rough" and "stupid bitchez are lyin' when they say they don't like it rough" and "not ALL guys are like that! PROOF! so your mistrust of men is completely unfounded!"

Nonetheless, it's still an interesting video to unpack. Thoughts?


  1. I think we like Louis as much as we do because, despite being an eminently bright, considered guy, he steadfastily delivers his act through a "don't ask me how anything works, I just live here" bumbling persona which is very close to how most of us with functioning self-awareness frequently feel (shades of that John Cleese interview in which he talks about growing up being the process of realising that all cultural rules are improvised arbitrariness).

    And I think that is why this is so effective; he comes off as so enthusiastically non-threatening that all the humour becomes about the reaction, not the actual subject matter, because no way in hell do we believe -in the moment- that Louis CK would want to rape anyone, much less that he would fake it.

    Is there something of the "a man has to make me laugh->relaxation->comfort->(non)sexual attraction" factor that women seem typically to expect? A dilution of threat factor into self-deprecation; an "I don't take myself seriously so I won't take you" area? The man is always expected to lead romantically; romance being a narrative that suffers the more it is dissected, we instinctively avoid building in dialogue about the most emotional, intimate parts of it, even though it there at our most personal that we are least likely to fit together perfectly, and stand most to gain from bridging the gap and thus reinforcing our most private places.

    As opposed to everyone investing in chastity belts, heh :/

    Being a guy who finds the idea of violence towards women repellant (ie, anti-sexy), I've had some trouble in the past with women who wanted to be mistreated verbally or otherwise during sex; it feels almost schizophrenic in terms of the what the other person wants or needs from you and turned the sex into an alienating, dissociative episode rather than something shared. Needless to say the relationships didnt last very long even if the friendships endured.

    In my experience, most women DO "like it rough", but only in the sense that most people like salads without wanting every meal uncooked; one healthy form amongst many of sex but certainly not the be all and end all, and never to be confused with abuse and violation.

    I guess this could be summarised by suggesting that if we were less hung up on sexual/gender insecurities and found talking about sex before having any less uncomfortable/sexier, then we might be able to dispel a lot of the fear that comes from the vulnerability of giving yourself to someone else, as fear and aggression tend to go hand in hand with frustrated misunderstandings. Heck, it would probably prevent a lot of unsatisfying sex, too.

    As a teacher who has had to try and deal with the impotent (word chosen with care) rage of knowing about the rape of a female student, knowing which man had committed it, and not being able to do anything about it due to the passing of time rendering abuse into hearsay, I have felt myself totally unable to enter the mindset of someone capable of doing that; I can only process it as unforgivable psychopathology. I wanted to walk up to the guy on the street, pound his face in and then tell his girlfriend what he'd done before working off, not because it would be the just or civilised thing to do, but because it felt like the only way to make someone that blind to others understand what it was like to be abused and discarded as though their own will and body were worthless - whilst, of course, expressing my anger.

    At 6'6, how to be confident and friendly without being overly imposing is a line I try and walk all the time, not always feeling successful; but that is obviously the least of the worries in our current culture. Anyway I hope this brought up some useful material.


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