Anita Sarkeesian Is Not Jack Thompson 2.0

In an ABC News segment last week, feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian again hit the media circuit with her crusade against “misogynist” video games. For many gamers, her appearance was reminiscent of odd-ball moral crusader Jack Thompson, who in the late 1990’s argued for regulation of violent games like Grand Theft Auto on the theory they were corrupting the youth of America. Thompson, who was ultimately disbarred for his abuse of the legal system, made numerous media appearances claiming teens used the games as “murder simulators” before committing school shootings and other acts of violence.

While there is some overlap between Thompson and Sarkeesian, their ideologies, support networks, and potentials for success couldn’t be more different. Conflating the two is dangerous because it underestimates the severe threat Sarkeesian poses to free expression in gaming culture, which until now has managed to remain relatively free of political hijackings.

"Know thy self. Know thy enemy." - The Art of War

“Know thy self. Know thy enemy.” – The Art of War

The most fundamental difference between Thompson and Sarkeesian derives from political visions – Thompson being a Christian conservative, and Sarkeesian a progressive feminist. Thompson was clear throughout his campaign that he was trying to protect young children and took no issue with adults enjoying the content. Sarkeesian’s mandate is more sweeping, based on the notion that  the culture itself is misogynist and that most popular games today are a problem. Thompson, for all his faults and fumbling, was guilty of taking an otherwise agreeable concept too far: that we have a responsibility to protect still-developing minds from harmful influences. Sarkeesian instead infantilizes all gamers and injects demonstrably effective victimhood messaging and identity politics into her arguments. As a self-anointed culture elite, progressives like her feel obligated to dictate acceptable content for the rest of us.

Another key difference is that while Thompson remained a buffoonish object of ridicule and never gained mainstream support for his beliefs, Sarkeesian is successfully waging a proxy battle in the larger culture war, tactfully exploiting political inroads with nearly the entire progressive and feminist movements backing her cause. Sarkeesian’s company, Feminist Frequency, has hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers and has raised over $160,000 through sympathy donations in the past year alone. Unlike the skepticism Thompson often received from interviewers, The Colbert Report, ABC Nightline, and other programs have lent Sarkeesian a sympathetic ear and granted her free platforms to broadcast her propaganda wholesale. Thompson, an extremist within his own broader circle, never enjoyed the support of any significant number of conservatives, Christians, or any other movement. Sarkeesian cuts a clear contrast, being cheered on by progressives as the face of feminism in gaming, and the misrepresentations of game events in her videos mirror the “rape culture” hysteria and false statistics appearing on any mainstream feminist blog.

Most troubling of all is the 5th column element that has arisen within the gaming community itself, undermining the GamerGate backlash and opening the gates for social justice reformers. Geek celebrities Wil Wheaton, Chris Kluwe, and Seth Rogen have joined Sarkeesian in condemning “gamer” culture, as have some game developers like Tim Schafer. The same gaming publications that staunchly opposed Thompson have, for the most part, cast lot with Sarkeesian via the “Gamers Are Dead” articles and subsequent pieces tarring resistance as a misogynist hate mob – a standard Alinskyite smear tactic.

As TNV has pointed out before, gaming has a progressive problem that needs addressing. Sarkeesian and other “social justice warriors” aren’t going to abandon their endeavors until gaming is no longer a fertile ground for exploitation. Only when this threat is correctly identified, rejected, and marginalized through a united front will gamers again be able to enjoy their hobby free from the pernicious shaming and oppressiveness of political correctness culture.

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Why GamerGate Needs to Address SJWs

It’s been four months since GamerGate kicked off its efforts, and proponents remain just as dedicated to the cause entering 2015. There is wide agreement on the goal of restoring ethical standards to gaming journalism, but opinions differ on whether GamerGate should concern itself with “social justice warriors” (SJWs) such as Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, Brianna Wu, Leigh Alexander, Arthur Chu, Chris Kluwe, and other public figures lambasting gamer culture and seeking to sanitize games by scrubbing “offensive” content from the medium.

This isn’t really a conflict; as a grassroots movement, each of us can prioritize efforts as we see fit. But for those viewing SJWs as a distraction, I urge you to venture further down the rabbit hole for a bit and to consider how SJW behavior fits into a larger, troubling attack pattern across different components of society.

“We got ourselves a progressive problem.”

This is the first time many in GamerGate have faced down the “progressive” political animal, so the viciousness and tenacity of those espousing “tolerance” may come as a surprise. Similarly, they may be ill-prepared to deal with the extreme Alinskyite tactics progressives have used since the early 20th century to isolate and intimidate targets into submission.

GamerGate itself is not a political movement in a partisan or governance sense, boasting membership from all across the political spectrum, but the progressive objective is to politicize gaming to advance their agenda, which makes them a political enemy of gamers. It’s a fine distinction but an important one to make to avoid mistaking opposition of politicization as politicization itself, and to avoid confusing identification of progressive tactics with the identity politics progressives use exploit various social identity groups. Another key difference is that, while progressives use intense negative social pressure and intimidation to suppress content they dislike, GamerGate favors traditional market mechanisms to assess value and provide utility to consumers.

Those who dispute progressive ideology as the source of the cultural rot are hard-pressed to explain why journalists at the heart of the corruption all identify with this particular far-left-wing political orientation. They are all progressives – yes, all of them – which strains the credibility of those ascribing the homogeneity to mere happenstance. To understand why this is the case, a useful conceptual framework comes courtesy of economist Thomas Sowell in A Conflict of Visions (summarized by Wikipedia):

“The unconstrained vision relies heavily on the belief that human nature is essentially good. Those with an unconstrained vision distrust decentralized processes and are impatient with large institutions and systemic processes that constrain human action. They believe there is an ideal solution to every problem, and that compromise is never acceptable. Collateral damage is merely the price of moving forward on the road to perfection. Ultimately they believe that man is morally perfectible. Because of this, they believe that there exist some people who are further along the path of moral development, have overcome self-interest and are immune to the influence of power and therefore can act as surrogate decision-makers for the rest of society.”

Remind you of anyone you know? Like their Marxist cousins, progressives subscribe to a Utopian vision of mankind in which the inherently good nature of man is corrupted by damaging environmental influences around him, whether they be racist institutions; the trappings of poverty; or misogynist, ableist, homophobic cishet video games. To the unconstrained visionary, the solution to all of the above is simple: remove the offending content and the less desirable qualities of mankind will disappear – we’ll all live together in perfect harmony in a world free of privilege, prejudice, violence, and oppression.

If your eyes are rolling at the idealism, then you probably fall somewhere in the “constrained vision” camp, which holds a more tragic and classical view of mankind – ambitious, flawed, and resistant to social engineering. GamerGate is, at its heart, a constrained-view social movement, enthusiastic about video games as a healthy outlet for exploring through fantasy and recreation humanity’s natural compulsions toward lust, greed, violence, and power. As such, GamerGate is incompatible with progressive political philosophy, and the two sides are destined to butt heads over values and visions for the future of gaming.

Progressivism is also, at its core, a utilitarian philosophy, achieving its designs via the Machiavellian principle that ends can justify the means. This is the source of the often atrocious and hypocritical behavior progressives engage in when confronted with obstacles to their vision – when the opponent is racism or sexism incarnate, it’s acceptable to be a little racist or sexist yourself if it means vanquishing your foe; hence, coordinated attacks on #NotYourShield minorities as “Uncle Toms,” or on female GamerGate members as “whores” of males in the movement. Similarly, gaming journalists have no moral qualms about using the power of their positions to advance their progressive cause. If a game uses “tropes” against women, or is too violent for the reviewer’s taste, then it deserves a bad review for being damaging to society, i.e., corruption is an acceptable price to fight the even greater corrupting influence of negligent social messaging. Whatever other value games may offer is eclipsed by the social justice mission to the self-anointed agents of human evolution and progress.

GamerGate can ignore SJWs and succeed in limited aims, but it would do so at its own existential peril. We the constrained face an enemy hellbent on tearing down our very identity and culture in the name of human “progress.” The progressive sees video games as yet another territory to be conquered and used as a launchpad for further political conquest. If you wish to see the result of capitulation, you only need look at the washed-out cultural wasteland Hollywood and academia became when they fell to political correctness decades ago.

Gamers Don’t Need NFLer Chris Kluwe

Subcultures tend to latch onto celebrity recognition for inroads into popular appeal. In the chess world, “chess-playing” celebrities like Dustin Diamond and Will Smith have written forwards to study books in place of those with tournaments named after them for decades of devotion to the hobby. So has been the case with minor celebrity and “gamer” Chris Kluwe, who was punter for the Minnesota Vikings until he was thrown out of the NFL for his constant verbal abuse of managers and fellow players, and for turning the NFL into a referendum on gay marriage after the league asked him not to do so (Kluwe erroneously claims such actions violate the First Amendment – he is not a legal scholar).

Kluwe enjoying a stale rehash of a AAA title.

Kluwe recently wrote an article called “Why GamerGaters Piss Me the Fuck Off,” which parallels so many of his other poorly written rantings and ravings, laden with juvenile potty language and self-righteous indignation towards those not as socially progressive as Kluwe. This particular screed is remarkable only because it targets one of the few groups still interested in Kluwe’s association with them, which is the gaming community. To be fair, after white millionaire Kluwe complains of “patently obvious white privilege,” he only calls “ignorant,” “slopebrowed,” and “shitgoblins” those gamers participating in an online social movement called “GamerGate,” which – to make a long story short – is a grassroots, leaderless backlash against politicization of gaming by social activists, and the collusion and corruption in gaming journalism that inevitably accompany progressivism, of which there are numerous examples. Kluwe now spends much of his days insulting gamers on Twitter and blocking the many female participants in GamerGate who challenge his Alinskyite smear campaign that the movement is a platform for misogyny.

For GamerGate, incurring Kluwe’s wrath is a reliable indication of being on the right track. Following his pattern of atrocious behavior in the NFL, Kluwe is exploiting gaming to advance a progressive agenda and assaulting the un-politicized escapist value that has made gaming meaningful for so long. Those reluctant to see gaming go the way of television and the movie industry – “exploring” the same politically correct themes over and over again – should welcome Kluwe’s ostracism (or ragequit) from the gaming community as a positive development.

Jon Stewart: Unfunny Hypocrite and Liar

The Daily Show has always leaned progressive, but it has made the full jump to left-wing propaganda outlet with its dishonest and lopsided coverage of the Gaza-Israeli conflict.

 

What is Stewart’s point exactly? The rockets Hamas fires at Israeli population centers to indiscriminately harm as many people as possible don’t count because Israel manages to shoot down many of them?

In true pundit fashion, Stewart – in the course of ridiculing a smartphone app which warns Israelis of incoming rocket attacks (har har) – selectively omits that Israel does warn Gaza citizens of impending strikes using technology via phone messages, air-dropped pamphlets, loudspeakers, and a variety of other methods besides warning shots before engaging in air strikes. How often does Hamas warn Israel of impending rocket attacks? (Never.) Stewart conveniently decides not to air footage from the same interview he samples showing an Israeli pilot calling off an airstrike after being notified that there are children in the target zone. Doesn’t fit the narrative.

Later in his segment, Stewart (reluctantly) acknowledges that Israel makes phone calls to Gaza residents in many cases to get them to evacuate buildings being bombed, but yells indignantly at the camera that in Gaza they have nowhere to which they can evacuate. The false inference is that the evacuation request is to evacuate from Gaza and not from the building being bombed to save their lives.

Stewart is a frequent critic of Fox News for its biased, pundit-style conservative reporting and commentary. How his program is any different from a Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity report using humor to mislead viewers and slam political opponents is a question he is unlikely to answer anytime soon.

 

Society’s Polygraph

A writer for the Washington Post describes the harrowing experience of receiving stares when collecting welfare benefits in her husband’s luxury car. Her true self-awakening occurs only after deep reflection reveals what a devastating effect collective judgment has had on her feelings of identity and self-worth. The greatest injustice of all, she realizes, is that she has been made to feel ashamed for having a mortgage, car, and children she can’t afford.

In the following passage she describes the utter humiliation to which she was subjected in the process of receiving her WIC and Medicare benefits:

I had to fill out at least six forms and furnish my Social Security card, birth certificate and marriage license. I sat through exams, meetings and screenings. They had a lot of questions about the house: Wasn’t it an asset? Hadn’t we just bought it? They questioned every last cent we’d ever made. Did we have stock options or pensions? Did we have savings? I had to send them my three most recent check stubs to prove I was making as little as I said I was.

 

Proof of identity! Verifying financial status! Horror of horrors!

Isn’t her giving her word enough? Who knew getting your hands on free money would be so difficult?

 

The question-mark guy on TV never mentioned any of this!

Back to the titular Mercedes:

That’s the funny thing about being poor. Everyone has an opinion on it, and everyone feels entitled to share. That was especially true about my husband’s Mercedes. Over and over again, people asked why we kept that car, offering to sell it in their yards or on the Internet for us.

“You can’t be that bad off,” a distant relative said, after inviting himself over for lunch. “You still got that baby in all its glory.”

Sometimes, it was more direct. All from a place of love, of course. “Sell the Mercedes,” a friend said to me. “He doesn’t get to keep his toys now.”

If you look closely, you can see some faint indications of properly functioning cultural norm. Being on welfare is supposed to suck. People are supposed to question your expenses and offer you help and advice. You are supposed to feel ashamed about not working and living off other people, regardless of whether or not you are primarily responsible for your financial condition. These are all components of a healthy society with incentives properly aligned toward working, managing expenses properly, and getting off of public dependence.

All of this is supposed to be the case because the alternative is having a system that encourages dependency and inaction. The other option is having people on welfare who drive Mercedes-Benz sports cars going totally unexamined. Is that the world you want to live in?

Ignore Hobby Lobby Case; Harris v. Quinn Is Where the Action Is

Today, the Supreme Court is scheduled to release two decisions. There is the case everyone will be talking about – Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, which doesn’t matter – and Harris v. Quinn, which could upend the union landscape across the country.

In all likelihood, the Hobby Lobby case won’t affect you or anyone you know. For those it will affect, it will make essentially no difference in their day to day lives. It focuses on the extremely narrow issue of whether a few companies so stupid as to conflate contraceptives with abortion have to pay for them under the Affordable Care Act. This case is getting all the media attention because Obamacare, and Sebelius, and religion, and abortion.

Harris v. Quinn could impact the lives of everyone in this country by radically restructuring how unions are allowed to operate. At issue is whether unions may compel representation and coerce dues from those who don’t want to be union members. It impacts free speech rights, free association rights, and could significantly affect how many workforces in the U.S. operate, not to mention your municipal tax bill.

So pay attention today to the case that matters, and don’t be trolled into mistaking Hobby Lobby for a case that does.

Cianci is Providence’s Trump Card

Twice-convicted Providence ex-mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci made national news last Thursday by announcing he is again running for top job in Rhode Island’s capital city. Cianci, WPRO talk show host and subject of the book The Prince of Providence, is undoubtedly one of the most interesting figures in Rhode Island but has a long and sordid history with political scandal:

Cianci mounted his first campaign in 1974 and never lost a mayoral election. But he was forced to resign in 1984 after he was convicted of using a fireplace log and lit cigarette to assault a man he believed was having an affair with his estranged wife. Six years after that conviction, in 1990, he ran for mayor again and won. His second stint as mayor, known around town as Buddy II, came to an end in 2002 when he was convicted as part of a federal investigation into corruption in City Hall, called Operation Plunder Dome by the FBI. Several members of his administration were convicted. He spent 4 ½ years in federal prison.

Like many convicted politicians, Cianci enjoys a successful career in talk radio.

While the state media has been largely critical of Cianci’s run (for all the obvious reasons), I will yet again sail against the tide of conventional wisdom and describe why Providence should – nay, must – elect Buddy Cianci in a last-ditch effort to maintain relevance.

In a previous entry, TNV examined Rhode Island’s long-trending decline under 80 years of Democratic rule, bankrolled and king-made by its infernal political machine of rent seekers, progressive interest groups, and organized labor. Months later, the state still leads the nation in unemployment at 8.3%, and Providence’s unemployment rate is even worse at 8.5%. Additional shame-worthy statistics are hashed out in the original post on the topic, but the short version is: if it’s an indicator of negative economic health, Rhode Island/Providence is likely to win, place, or show in the national rankings.

Even when the dealings in Providence aren’t overtly corrupt, burdensome regulations and demands that investors kiss the ring of local politicians for tax relief have solidified the city’s reputation of being extremely unfriendly toward business. Would-be developers now balk at the prospect of investing because jumping through political hoops is too much of a risk and a headache to seriously consider. In fact, a national survey has ranked Rhode Island dead last in friendliness toward small businesses for several years running.

Reputations are fragile things, to the extent where a single bad act can overshadow a lifetime of otherwise laudable behavior. Like the perpetually struggling economies of former Soviet-bloc states, Providence has, for all practical purposes, passed the point of no return. It has missed the mark so consistently and in so many respects, that it could take generations to fill in the hole it has dug before building something positive in the space would even be possible. In the face of such an intractable position, the only rational course of action is to keep digging in the hope of striking oil.

Providence should abandon the fools errand of rebranding itself – absent all-but-impossible political reforms – and follow the uber-successful sex-tape stars of reality television by leveraging its source of embarrassment into a cause celebre and tourism boon. Instead of electing yet another liberal Democrat to front-man for entrenched interests, electing Cianci would repave worn avenues by caricaturizing Providence as the incorrigible problem child of so many beloved television shows and movies. To this day, people are fascinated by Providence’s squalid history of crime and political corruption. Even before his renewed candidacy, Buddy Cianci was a hot topic of conversation for those who otherwise held little interest in the stopover city between New York and Boston.

Like it or not, corruption is Providence’s brand. It should start selling.

Banishing the Progressive Golem

Three of the most successful social movements in American history have been the women’s rights movement of the early 20th century, the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century, and the gay rights movement of the late-20th and early-21st centuries. Each movement brought with it a mixed bag of equal protections under the law and expansions of the nanny state, and as a result, liberty advocates have often fallen into a limbo of qualified support and justified hesitation.

Setting aside whether the positives outweighed the negatives in each case, the pressing matter today is what to do when the machinery of a movement has outlived its usefulness. At the outset, there might have been the implicit assumption that operations would naturally cease or scale back once objectives had been achieved. But through a combination of mission creep and basic human reluctance to relinquish power, organizations like the National Organization for Women, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, national labor unions, and even Mothers Against Drunk Driving have persisted long after achieving their once noble goals. Worse, many of these groups, in their attempts to hold sway and relevance, now actively undermine the causes of equal opportunity and social harmony they once sought to promote.

“Social Justice… Unghhhhhh”

In many ways, social movements are like the Prague golem of Jewish/European mythology, brought to life to protect its creators from harm at the hands of vile oppressors. After completing its duties, the golem became uncontrollable in many accounts, even harming those it was once sworn to protect. Only by scratching the word “truth” off the golem’s forehead were the townspeople able to crumble the golem back into the earth from which it was formed. If the analogy holds to its conclusion, only by standing up to our golems armeds with the courageous truth when they are no longer necessary can we prevent them from becoming the monsters of legend.

Iraq: Let it Go

The trick to repeating history is you’re supposed to aim for the good parts while avoiding what led to devastating loss of life and resources.

With the 2003 Iraq War, the United States failed to heed this principle by repeating its Vietnam experience in yet another decade-long ground war against a country that posed no threat, lacking a clear objective, exit strategy, or any hope of gaining substantial local support.

By April, 1975, the United States had completely pulled out of Southern Vietnam, and Saigon fell shortly after to Northern Vietnamese forces, reunifying the wartorn country under its brutal communist regime. Domino Theory predicted that the fall of Vietnam would destabilize the region, leading to potential communist takeovers in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Burma, and India (Laos and Cambodia had already fallen in spillover from the Vietnam War itself). What happened in fact was the communist countries fought each other for the following decade, then eventually decided to normalize relations with the United States to improve their struggling economies (communism has a way of dampening the entrepreneurial spirit).

 

We have no way of knowing if the Islamic factions attempting to reclaim Iraq in 2014 would follow this pattern, but they do have a remarkable history of fighting each other and would almost certainly tie their own hands doing so for the foreseeable future. Unless the U.S. wants to be permanent babysitter of the region at the expense of trillions of additional dollars, it should repeat what little it got right with Vietnam by getting out and staying out of where it isn’t wanted.

“Blaming the Victim”

Earlier this week, I happened upon a blog article trending on Twitter (courtesy of a progressive who retweets anything reflecting poorly on men or white people) in which a young woman details two experiences she had with men at an EdTech conference. She posted the stories as part of the #YesWeCan – sorry, #YesAllWomen – movement, which is short for “Yes, all women live in fear of male violence,” or some variation on that theme.

One of the stories involves a man being overly forward with her and not getting the hint she wasn’t interested. We all have to deal with creeps and jerks of various stripes (and genders) in our lives, so there isn’t much to comment on there, unless we’re going to dredge up every upsetting or awkward encounter we’ve had with the opposite sex, of which I’d say I’ve had the typical amount.

The second story is the one I found meriting serious discussion in that it involved a messy social situation full of mixed messages and gray areas that goes all kinds of wrong in the end with what may have been a sexual assault (there are two sides to every story and we only have one here, but we’ll assume she reported accurately for our purposes).

Now there is a type of person who would prefer to stop the discussion here. The fact that a sexual assault occurred, to such a person, becomes the only relevant fact one should ever consider or discuss, and any scrutiny or attention paid to the surrounding events or context constitutes “blaming the victim.” To engage in any thoughtfulness beyond out-and-out condemnation would be condoning rape, and so on. If you are of this mindset, please don’t bother reading any further because it will only waste your time. Tell yourself I am a “victim blamer” and feel free to move along. Oh, I could go on about how much I deplore rape (consent is the core principle of libertarianism), or about how I began my legal career prosecuting rapists and child molesters and helping victims in the sex crimes division of a District Attorney’s office. This type of person doesn’t care about any of that, and playing defensive really isn’t my style in any case. Victim Blamer. Rape Condoner. Got it – happy trails.

For those who are genuinely interested in a discussion about responsibilities and consequences of behaviors, be warned in advance, the story reposted below is painful. Although there is nothing funny or entertaining about it, in many ways it’s like the often brutal dramatic ironies that develop in series like Curb Your Enthusiasm or The Office, where characters unwittingly dig themselves deeper and deeper into a oncoming social catastrophe as the audience knowingly cringes in expectant horror. The author said she hopes her piece will be shared and spur discussion, so I’m taking her at her word and attempting to accomplish that here.

The story begins innocently enough with an invitation:

As I was standing outside the convention center waiting to help my friends pack up their booth, a man I had chatted with about his company approached me and asked if I would be interested in grabbing a beer with him that night. I said yes, we exchanged contact information, and went our separate ways.

There’s a familiar level of ambiguity here. Is this business, or pleasure, or both? At a minimum, nighttime + invitation + alcohol + opposite sexes means this could *potentially* turn romantic at some point. If the woman isn’t aware of that potential, we’re already tipped off that her social radar might be a bit limited. But even so, as a free and independent adult, she should absolutely accept the invitation if drinks or dinner sounds like fun.

That night, we met at a restaurant and talked over a couple of beers about some of the major challenges in EdTech, fund raising, and our personal startup journeys.

Is this a date? Yet unlear, but it’s becoming more like one the more they hit it off and the later the night drags on. Ambiguity serves an important function here as a safe means of testing waters, affording each party the opportunity to save face through plausible deniability in the event of being rejected. But with ambiguity also comes the risk of unpleasant misunderstandings; it’s a double-edged sword to wield to be sure.

When the restaurant closed (since everything in downtown San Antonio closes early), we went to a dive-y metal bar he insisted was open and a good place. We got another round of drinks and talked about cultural differences, startup life, and politics.

For any of our visitors from Alpha Centurai, this now officially counts as a date on this planet. It doesn’t mean sex is necessarily in the works, but the situation is screaming romantic possibilities to anyone who is listening for them (and you can be sure the man is). If the woman wants to clear up any justified misunderstandings by her devoted late-night companion, now would be the perfect time to do so. But alas:

After round #4, I started to fell unwell. Drunken sickness was coming. I went to the bathroom, threw up, rinsed out my mouth, and returned to the table. He had ordered another round. I cracked open the beer partly out of politeness, and partly because I was hoping the beer would wash out the bitter acid taste in my mouth. I attempted my best to continue the conversation, but after five minutes of nodding, deep breathing, and worrying “If I open my mouth to respond, will I throw up?”, I excused myself and went back to the bathroom to continue my routine. When I reemerged from the restroom I found him sitting at the table with two oversized shots of whiskey. “I can’t drink this,” I told him. “I should go home.” “We can leave once you take the shot” he said. I grimaced, took the shot, and immediately went back into the restroom.

Actions send social signals, so it’s important to be aware of the signals you send, especially in a heightened-risk situation, such as a dive bar you’ve never been to before. Wherever alcohol is involved, the potential for Bad Things to happen is greatly elevated, warranting a higher standard of caution and care. Drinking to the point of extreme intoxication causes risks to grow exponentially, especially if you’re out alone without any friends or family to look out for you. Not a good idea for anyone, man or woman.

As we walked out of the bar, he said “We should get you some coffee.” I agreed, and asked him if he knew anywhere that was open. “I know a place, just trust me. As we wandered around the Riverwalk for what felt like hours, I asked him “Where are we going?” “My hotel,” he said, “It’s nearby and they have a coffee bar.” I kept following him. I was so intoxicated and ill feeling, I couldn’t wait to sit down and have water and coffee.

The lack of social awareness in this scenario borders on autistic. If the woman doesn’t realize that “coffee” in a man’s hotel after barhopping at midnight doesn’t actually mean “coffee,” somebody failed to provide her with a crucial social education a long time ago.

We went through the side entrance of the hotel and he pressed the button for the elevator. “Where are we going?” I asked again. He didn’t respond. When the elevators opened, he lead me down a hallway and inserted his key card to what I discovered was his room. This is weird. Maybe he realized how late it was and that the coffee bar would be closed. Hotels have coffee makers in their rooms; it’s not that weird. 

The freight train is barrelling down the tracks at 100mph. I can feel the audience cringing. This mismatch of expectations can only end badly with some sort of physical or emotional confrontation. It never should have gotten this far.

“Here’s the coffee maker, but I don’t know how to use it” he told me. I went into the bathroom got a glass of water and started fumbling with the coffee maker. It finally started brewing, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, coffee. By the time I finish this cup and walk back to my car, I’ll be fine to drive home. “Why don’t you sit down?” he asked, motioning to the bed. There weren’t any chairs that I could see, so I sat down on the bed.

On the bed. His bed.

He scooted in close to me and started kissing my neck and then my face. His kisses were sloppy and tasted overwhelmingly of cigarettes. He leaned into me and backwards, so we were soon lying on our sides. He started trying to undress me.

This is where the story gets truly sad.

He kept fumbling with my shirt buttons and trying to slide my shirt over my shoulders. Every time his hands moved away from my chest, I pulled my shirt back on and started buttoning. I repeated “no” as he kept attempting to undress me, with each “no” he became more aggressive.

Things have gotten far out of hand. The man should stop now and make the best of the humiliating situation he finds himself in. Instead, he makes the worst of it.

“Can’t you just take your skirt off?” he asked. I refused. He climbed on top of me- straddling me- and fumbled with my skirt some more. Thank god even my skirt is being uncooperative. He eventually became so flustered trying to undress me that he gave up the task and just pulled my underwear to the side. I kept repeating “no” as I started to cry. I turned my head during the whole encounter so I couldn’t watch him and he couldn’t watch me cry. After what felt like an eternity, I started feeling more sober and forceful. I mostly composed myself as I started repeating “you have to stop.” He finally relented right before he finished. I went into the bathroom and turned on the sink so he couldn’t hear me cry or heave again. I blotted my skirt to remove any traces of him, and washed my face of my crying stains. I grabbed my purse to leave, and he insisted on walking me back to my car (because a girl walking alone at night might be raped or murdered, and I clearly needed his protection from that). He spent the walk back to my car talking to me about his travels and telling me that he hoped we would run into each other again. He told me that my interest in politics was the sexiest thing about me, and joked about meeting my parents. His words made me feel sicker than I already felt. I realized when I got back to my car that I forgot the coffee. I gave him a ride back to the hotel because that was the polite thing to do. I hadn’t made eye contact with him throughout the walk to my car or the drive back. When I pulled into the hotel driveway, we finally made eye contact. He paused for a moment and then apologized for being “so aggressive.” I told him “It’s okay” because I frankly had no idea what to say, and I was always taught to answer politely.

One reason I’ve highlighted this story is because I have been that man a few times in my life right up until the first “no” was uttered (she kissed me back instead). I doubt any red-blooded American male would *not* have been utterly confused and frustrated by the woman’s behavior and the mixed messages she was sending that night, even if she didn’t mean to send them. This is why social awareness and taking basic situational precautions are so critical.

Individual responsibility, at the end of the day, means taking ownership of one’s behaviors, no more and no less. The woman is responsible for putting herself in a high-risk scenario. The man is responsible for not stopping when he should have. I don’t blame either party for the actions of the other – only what was in his or her direct control. Certainly there is more than a single valuable lesson here.

A popular feminist slogan is: “Society teaches don’t get raped, not don’t rape.” I happen to think both are solid wisdom.