Thursday, October 29, 2009

Prudie Gets it Right

Dear Prudence,
I am currently in a relationship with a great guy. He is sweet and caring, and we get along very well. There is, of course, one problem that has existed for quite a while but is really starting to bother me now. I am very ticklish, and I hate being tickled. He found out about this weakness when we first started dating, and since then, barely a day goes by when he doesn't try to tickle me. Whenever we are lying on the couch or in bed together, he will start tickling me, and when I react he gets on top of me and pins me down so that I can't defend myself. I have repeatedly told him that I hate being tickled, that it makes me feel vulnerable and no longer in control of my body, and when he continues to do it, it is disrespectful. He insists that because I laugh, I must enjoy it. He adds that I need to learn to master my mind, and once I "convince" myself that I am not ticklish, then I won't panic when he tickles me. What should I say to him that gets my point across?

—Tickled Pink

Dear Tickled,
There are some people who, when they're having sex, may look or sound as if they're being tortured but are actually having a great time. Your boyfriend knows that though you're laughing uproariously while he's tickling you, it doesn't mean you're having a great time but that you're being tortured. Torturing you is the great time for him. If he were a decent person, a simple "Please don't tickle me again. I hate it" should have been enough to end the sessions once and for all. But you've explained ad infinitum what a violation the tickling is. In response, he plays ridiculous mind games with you about how you're responsible for your own reaction when he daily climbs on top of you and pins you down so he can force you to endure his digital assaults. You're asking me what you can say to your "great," "sweet," and "caring" boyfriend to get him to stop attacking you. I think you should boil your remarks down to their essence, and what you should say is "Goodbye."



  1. Rachel,

    This is clearly a Hate Crime. You should do the responsible thing and work with the victim to call the police. Let justice be served.


  2. Cinders10/30/2009

    Once again, Burn, your comment doesn't make much sense. I get that it's an attempt at sarcasm, but it's a pretty sad fail. So let me explain: this was a letter written to Emily Yoffe, who's the advice columnist at Slate. Rachel was just pointing out what "Prudence" said, and how she got it right. In our culture, it's still fairly common for people to think it's OK for men to physically restrain women, or force them to endure physical contact that they don't desire or enjoy. And this is a part of the rape culture. If you think it's OK to pin a woman down and tickle here against her will (and argue that she really actually wants/enjoys it), then it's not a huge jump to thinking it's OK to pin her down and have sex with her against her will.

  3. Anonymous10/30/2009

    ...this is a part of the rape culture. If you think it's OK to pin a woman down and tickle here against her will (and argue that she really actually wants/enjoys it), then it's not a huge jump to thinking it's OK to pin her down and have sex with her against her will.

    Yes, exactly. This.

  4. Ms. Cinders,

    You're hurting my feelings. In any it a hate crime or not? You seem very intelligent and informed, so you must have an opinion and I don't see how it could be wrong. I'm certain you are much more educated than me, but please help me out here.

    Simple question. Is it, or isn't it? If it is then call the police and report it. Put the guy in jail. If it isn't what might it be? You must know.

    Maybe you chicks should advocate a boyfriend reeducation camp to retrain guys that are out of line as to what the proper approach to relationships with women is. There are plenty of historical reeducation camp models you can reference. There must be a history major or educator among your readers. Knock yourselves out.

    Only goofballs like you ladies would make the monumental leap from the described scenario to Rape Culture. That said it is 100% consistent with your political agenda.

    What a joke.


  5. Cinders11/01/2009

    What an odd question. A hate crime? Are you familiar with the definition of hate crimes? Generally a hate crime is a violent offense perpetrated against someone because of their identity. So it seems odd that you would suggest in a serious manner that this was a hate crime. That's why I interpreted it as sarcasm.

    However, feeling like it's OK to physically restrain someone and do something to them that you know they hate, and that they've repeatedly asked you not to do, is a sign of deep disrespect, and a power trip, and a sign that you think you're more valuable than that person, and that you know better than they do what they want and what's good for them. Thus it's not only a deal-breaker, but it carries several similarities to the mentality present in sexual assault scenarios. It's about power, and depriving someone of physical autonomy, and reminding them that you can physically dominate them. So, yeah, it's a part of rape culture. And defending actions like comes dangerously close to rape apologism, Burn. Pretty embarrassing for you.

  6. Cinders Chick,

    I didn't think you'd have the guts to answer my question. Appreciate the confirmation.

    Actually, depending upon when you decide grow up, get rid of your victimized view of reality and actually deal with the real issues that happen in relationships you won't understand that there is ALWAYS much more to these situations than stated.

    I get Hate Crime. I get the perspective of Feminists on men in general. I get that no matter what happens it can never be a woman's fault. I get that no matter what I say you will launch into another group think soliloquy about how guys don't get it.

    Truth is, if this guy isn't treating her the way she wants, she should launch him. There are plenty of fish in the sea. Point being, she doesn't want to launch him because "other that that" he's a great boyfriend. If she had any confidence or the female equivalent of "balls" she'd tell the guy to take a hike. Instead she wants advice from a bunch of feminists as to how she should "change" another "damaged" dude. She has the power. Just walk away. Please spare me your sermons.

    I'm probably older than most of you, but I can tell you from years of experience, few girlfriends in my life actually liked their mothers and they ALL feel guilty about it. That said, they have consistently appreciated and respected their fathers, IF THEY WERE PRESENT IN THE RELATIONSHIP.

    I backed into this blog for all of the wrong reasons. I continue to read it because, after getting over the fact that Rachel is a PIA, at least she tries to hold her positions.

    I think it would be instructive to many of you to go back and read Rachel's Fathers Day submission. You know, the one where she basically said that her Father was a Saint and a Masochist when it came to putting up with her BS and her mom was consistently a pain in the ass.

    Draw your own conclusions. Until then save your pity for someone that actually thinks you have any reasonable view of how the world actually works.


  7. Anonymous11/06/2009

    Um, I think this "bunch of feminists" was actually agreing with Prudie, who said to dump him already. This is different from playing a victim game or trying to change him.

  8. Burn,

    I didn't say that my dad was a saint when it comes to taking my BS, or that my mom was awful. Go back and read the post if this was unclear. My dad and I disagree on a lot of things, but we enjoy debating religion and politics, and do so respectfully. He doesn't have to put up with any BS from me. The BS I was referring to comes from members of the extended family, mostly his sister and her kids, who pick fights with everyone. The difference is that he doesn't allow these little manufactured dramas to rupture his relationships with them, while at the same time refusing to allow them to push him around. And that's a hard balance to maintain. My mom was a great mom, but a product of a different generation than me when it comes to expectations for gender roles. She's also very religious, and disappointed in my take on the church. But she's still a very loving and supportive mother, and I do respect her a lot. So I don't think your characterization of my relationship with my parents is accurate or fair. My personality and outlook is very similar to my dad's, and thus I get along with him better. This doesn't mean my mom is an awful person, or that by extension all women are awful people or bad parents. It just means in this family, this kid gets along better with the dad.

  9. And that's why your Dad is an excellent guy. That's also why you don't want guys being trained by feminists as to how the world works. Seems like your dad did fine without that input. He obviously supported you in your professional goals. He has to be the mature one and make peace, which is a pretty common role for dads, particularly between moms and daughters.

 For the record, I have four sisters, so I kinda been there, done that.

    One huge gap in current Feminist Dogma is the whole issue of loving fathers and the how and why it now "makes sense" to socialize young men in a different way than their fathers were. This is particularly a problem for women because frankly, they have NO CLUE about how to socialize a young man. That's part of the reason we have a bunch of twenty and thirty something year old young men now that are such huge goofballs that they can't get any women, feminist or not, to give them the time of day from a relationship standpoint. Based upon what I've observed I can't blame the women on this issue as most of these guys truly are goofy. If I was a chick I wouldn't want to date them either. 

    I'm not poor mouthing your mom. I'm sure she loves you and you love her. My point is that lots of women don't get along with their mothers. I'm not minimizing your experience, but I'm saying that based on my guy experience it's really common for a woman to not like her mom much, if at all.

  10. That's also why you don't want guys being trained by feminists as to how the world works.

    I guess it depends on how you think feminists would "train" boys. I think both boys and girls should be taught to be thoughtful and considerate, to be consistent in their relationships, to follow through with things they started and keep their word, to give as much as they receive, to be compassionate and sensitive to the ways in which they're privileged as well as the way that others may not be, to be critical thinkers and curious life-long learners, to be aware of history and cultural contexts, to have a basic respect for everyone, and not to act like entitled little jerks. That may be asking a lot, and it's a difficult task to raise kids like that in our culture of consumption and waste and disregard for the hardships of others. Sometimes it seems like the world wants your kids to grow up to be self-involved, petty, mindless consumers. But I think both men and women are better people for having these characteristics, and I personally am not attracted to men who don't have these traits to some extent. So I'm not sure why feminist parenting would harm boys, or make them develop into the goofballs to whom you refer.

    Also, for the record, I've been known to passionately denounce the way our culture undervalues the parenting that dads do, and I despise the image of dad as second-class parent that's so prevalent. You might notice that one of the blogs in my blogfeed to the right is about fathering in our culture. I hate it when people refer to dads as "babysitting" their kids. I hate it when sitcoms and commercials make these little jokes about how disastrous it is when mom leaves the kids home with dad by themselves, since dad is so totally incompetent and clueless. I think this is one way in which patriarchy harms men as well as women, and I think it's feminist to critique and denounce this kind of bullshit. So perhaps we just disagree on what feminist parenting looks like.

  11. In my view most of the attributes you describe are commendable when it comes to raising all children. I'd also take the position that most of them are not uniquely feminist parenting approaches. The issues I have problems with are young boys/ men being indoctrinated by single (or not) feminist mothers that everything that is wrong in the world is due to the patriarchy, men in general are damaged merchandise and are all rapists at heart. That's just for starters.

    A guaranteed route to failure as a parent is to tell your son that his is part of the evil patriarchy and that he should defer to women's' input and judgment to assure his happiness and self-actualization in life. I can't imagine that the constant droning of the "Girl Power" message impacts these young men in a positive way either.

    The other wrong-headed aspect of feminist parenting is the implicit assumption that because a women or a feminist believes and says something it makes it true. That just isn't the case and if you raise a boy that way then he subsequently goes out into the world he's going to have a rude awakening.

    We've got all kinds of proof that single parenting doesn't really work very well. We've also got plenty of proof that traditional parenting has worked pretty well over time. It's only been over the past forty years or so that the single parenting "thing" has become a much more common parenting model. Last stats I read were that 70% of black children are being born to single mothers, although the increase certainly isn't limited to black folks. So I would say that we agree (which is concerning) on the value of men in raising children into successful adults.

    A guaranteed way to unhappiness is for boys or men to let women and / or feminists define what it takes for them to be a successful man. It's so silly it's laughable. It's amazing to me that women don't want anyone telling them how to live in any way but they are all about telling guys what is wrong with them and how they can fix it. Kind of makes a person wonder.

    Reminds me of my favorite Bill Cosby quote: "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone".