Only a green light means “sex”

So I post about reasons I have been self-censoring, and then up come a few things that in the end I wasn’t going to let slide. First there was David Cameron’s war on the libido. In that, I wrote to my MP to defend extreme porn.

Now I have to cover the other flank and deal with an example of rape culture.

I read the blog regularly, looking for useful titbits that will help me become better at socialising generally, and specifically at meeting women with a view to maybe having a relationship. I read their stuff because most of the time they come across as fairly ethical as pick-up artists etc go, and some of their stuff does seem useful to me. Every so often, though, they come out with stuff that makes me really cringe. Tom Torero, who is one of their senior coaches now, has a number of these., for instance, I am fairly sure are among the people who use the “She won’t even know why she wants to have sex with you.” line that I really find distasteful.

A recent post on their blog is titled Escalate on Amber Lights. Torero says:

The “leap of faith” moments I talk about, where you have to really take control and lead even though she’s giving you mixed (or no) signals are:

  • getting the phone number
  • setting up a date
  • going for the first kiss
  • taking her back to your house
  • taking her to the bedroom
  • initiating sex

Yup. Take out the extraneous words and Torero says that, “If she’s giving you mixed (or no) signals” about having sex (with you), “you should go ahead and initiate sex.”

I am a firm advocate of enthusiastic consent, or “genuine consent” (the version of “enthusiastic consent” that’s worded to include asexual partners who are enthusiastic about consenting, even though they’re not enthusiastic about the sex) as the standard that we should try to live by. In my book, if you haven’t got a clear, “Yes, I want to have sex with you,” then initiating sex is rape even if it turns out afterwards that the other person wanted it. Ethically speaking, if you don’t have that green light, then it’s taking a gamble on their willingness. Some people want a direct, verbal, “yes” before they accept. Other people are happy to say that they believe enthusiastic consent can be communicated non-verbally. Either way, there is some clear signal that the person you’re with is eager for sexual contact to take place. A green light. The signals are decidedly NOT “mixed” or “not clear”.

Of course, it is possible that the other person wants it and feels happy about the situation. That person would not call it rape, in that situation. Nevertheless, until you know that you are not raping them – that is, until they declare that they are into it – then in terms of your knowledge and actions, you have acted unethically and have in principle committed rape.

Given that Torero has made a blog post seemingly giving the okay to proceed in a rape-y way with sex even when a woman isn’t obviously up for it, I thought about it and really wanted just to run away and not engage. As it happens, the next post on the blog is called The Spotlight Effect. It links to a forum post about how to overcome the false impression that everyone’s attention is on you. One of the things it says is this:

“If I say what I really think, people might disagree with me.”


So I decided to post a comment on Torero’s post explaining the above in a more concise and soundbited fashion. I don’t step up as often as is necessary, but I do step up as often as I can. Rape culture is a thing, and when even relatively ethical PUA sites like perpetuate rape culture attitudes like the one above, it’s a serious problem. I don’t confront them every time because I don’t always have the spoons to do it.

While I was at it, I recalled a phrase Torero had used about sexually escalating with a woman. He said something like, “Don’t give her a chance to say no”. Since I was complaining about their rape-culture problem anyway, I put a little note into my comment saying that that was also part of the problem. After all, if someone doesn’t have a chance to say “no”, then their “yes” doesn’t mean anything and, once again, you might be raping them.

This is one reason why I am more inclined these days to listen to dating coaches like Charlie Nox and Hayley Quinn (i.e. women). The male-dominated PUA/seduction community is just too full of these rape-enabling ideas, even from the ones who come across as ethical. Even Quinn has some worrying ideas about “pushing past resistance” in a street encounter, but at least she doesn’t seem to advocate doing that in sexual situations. She also advises staying true to your core beliefs and, as stated, “enthusiastic/genuine consent” is one of mine.

I believe that there is some kind of value to be gained from the world of the seduction community for people with strong feminist-leaning ethical standards for sex and dating. Clarisse Thorn, who explored that world extensively, conducted a discussion of what that might look like. But there is still a huge problem – not just in PUA, but in society in general – with attitudes like those to which I objected in Tom Torero’s advice.


About ValeryNorth

I overthink everything.
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One Response to Only a green light means “sex”

  1. Pingback: Defining my sex-positive stance | Valery North - Writer

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