Chatological Humor (Dec. 11)

Dec 11, 2018

Two polls today, about marital rape.
For men.
For women.
You asked for it and you got it. Gene will now be holding weekly mini-chats, where he takes your questions about what's happening in the country — and anything else you want to discuss.

Good afternoon.

Hi, gonna start right off the bat with my answers to the poll.  As it happens, they coincide pretty closely -- but less eloquently -- with Manteuffel's analysis, so I am going to use hers, instead.

The guy is a jackass, mostly because he almost certainly made up this story as a way to explore and proble nooks and crannies of the #MeToo movement.  The problem is, um, this is a bulls--- argumentative side issue, not remotely applicable to what #MeToo is about.   It is like when men react to the latest sexual depradation by men in power by saying "Not All Men!"  Obviously, not all men, but also an effort to divert attention from a real problem applying to a LOT of men.

Same thing here.

Okay, I am about to get into trouble.  Here it comes.  I am leading with my chin, and encourage pot shots.  See the chin?  It's a double chin!  Even more to aim at. 

I think this guy -- for Rachel's reason -- is fulla crap, flying a false flag, and should have been honest about making the scenario up.  It's still a reasonably question, though when you parse it as fiction, it becomes more obvious that it is a phony digression to a serious topic

But, accepting the story as true, I don't see the guy as either a cad or a rapist.   A 25-year marriage creates a degree of understanding, and a dramatic presumption of innocence.  If the lady, in fact, was inebriated and hugely horny and desirous of sex, it was  practically the husband's OBLIGATION to satisfy that.  In my opinion.  In a way, this is the whole point of marriage.  Now, if wife had at any point int he evening reconsidered, and expressed such reconsideration, it was incumbent on hubby to stop.  But absent that, it is in my view a weird and absurd contention that he is a rapist.   I think Amy (who I read and usually agree with) went nuts with her answer. 


Okay, we start at noon sharp.   Speaking of sharp, have at me, ladies.  Knives out.  I'm ready.

The hypothetical Cad had also been consuming alcohol during the evening. Is there evidence to show that he was sober while his wife was drunk? If the hypothetical Cad's story is accurate, the difference is that he remembered what happened, while there is doubt that the hypothetical wife remembered. If the couple had gone out for their evening, the more significant threat may have occurred had they driven home while being under the influence.

Well, all true, but beside the point, no?

I subscribe physically to the Post and digitally to the New York Times. I am considering getting digital subscriptions to other newspapers just to support journalism in these tough times. Which papers are deserving of support, in your opinion?

Wall Street Journal.  Milwaukee Sentinel.  LATimes.  Chicago Sun Times, if only for Neil Steinberg's column. 

This begs the question : Is Amy Dickinson the most gullible sap this side of the average Trump voter? And I agree with Dan Savage: relationships involve implied consent. This doesn't mean that spousal rape can't happen -- it can -- but that the goalposts, as it were, for unwanted contact are in a VERY different place than they are between two people who are not in a relationship.

Yes, exactly.  Though I don't think it is fair to call Amy gullible.  She knew this was likely made up. 

A drunken, married couple having drunken sex after going out for dinner?!? Say it ain't so!

Exactly.  I was so stunned by Amy's answer I thought for a minute she was being sarcistic and ironic.  But no.  She seems to have meant it.

FWIW, I have been married twice and in several serious long-term relationships.  None of my ladies were teetotalers.  I would estimate that the situation described in this question happened maybe 5 or 6 or 8 times in my life, and, without being too skeevy, I'd say that in each and every case my worry was whether I could perform as she desired and deserved, NOT whether it was ethical.  It was ethical.

To add to the newspaper question: Also, believe it or not, the New York Daily News.  And the Dallas Morning Newss.

I'm with you. The guy's a douche but not a rapist.

Yep.  And douche is sort of debatable, though I will go there.  To me, the only crime was the disingenuous linkage to #MeToo.  This is not a metoo issue.

. . . for making up the story and writing Dear Amy. Plus making his letter sound like one of those contributions to Penthouse. Total skeeve.

okay.... but not a rapist, right?

and I agree with you.

Good.  I admit on first read, i wondered why you were telling me you favored your left hand!

In my experience, women who are "not likely to remember" events because of intoxication are more listless than aggressive. Perhaps there might be an initial push, but soon enough it fades as intoxication increases. I'm not interested in a partner who isn't actively participating in whatever is going on, and I have ended sexual activity when it became clear that my partner, while willing, wasn't sober enough (or was too tired) to be engaged. This scenario just doesn't sound plausible to me--either this guy has a thing for listless, incapacitated women or he's just messing around.

Well for the purposes of analyzing this question, we need to believe his description of his wife as very aggressively wanting it, no?  If she is basically asleep, she isn't very aggressively wanting it.

Q. Sleeping pills and consent: I’ve had insomnia all my life. I currently take prescribed sleeping meds that can leave me pretty out of it. Sleep is very precious to me, as it’s so hard to come by and a lack of it can trigger a weeklong migraine. My husband of 20 years often tries to get frisky when I’m not fully coherent. Most recently, after rebuffing his advances, he said, “It’s not like you’re going to remember this.” So not only was he waking me from a limited resource, he was using the fact that I would not remember to justify … I don’t know what. Marital relations? Assault? Rape? He swears he doesn’t remember this interaction, but it’s all I can think about. I’ve been known to do and say things I don’t remember while on these meds, so it’s possible that I have consented in the past. Do I stop taking these meds, so that I can be more aware of my surroundings? Kick him out? Have him arrested? A: I’m so sorry. It’s absolutely heartbreaking that you’re considering discontinuing medication that allows you to sleep and profoundly improves your quality of life in order to be “more aware” of your surroundings and to be on guard against your husband. You say that he has a habit of trying to have sex with you when you’re fading in and out of consciousness, and has attempted to justify pushing past your limits based on the fact that this medication affects your memory. I don’t think he’s actually forgotten that he said this. I think this is the continuation of a pattern where he sees your vulnerability as something to be manipulated and exploited. I can understand that it must be painful to see your husband of 20 years in such an ugly light, and I imagine that’s part of why you’re hoping you can justify or explain away his behavior with, “Sometimes I say things I don’t remember on these meds, so maybe I’ve offered him a blanket consent that I would be honor-bound to uphold even if I forgot about it.” But you’re not honor-bound by the things you may or may not have said while under the influence of strong sleep medication, and the fact that your husband keeps trying to do this while you’re medicated—and not, say, having a conversation about what is and isn’t OK, in the middle of the day when you’re totally coherent—tells me he isn’t behaving honorably, doesn’t respect your desires or boundaries, and is looking to see what he can get away with while also trying to get you to doubt your own memories. Whatever you decide to do next—and I do think you should kick him out and consider all of your options, up to and including filing a report—remember this: The last time you turned your husband’s physical advances down, he attempted to keep going and justified himself by saying that you’d probably forget about it. Ever since that day, you haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. You’re talking about discontinuing important medication in order to maintain constant vigilance, like a soldier under threat. You don’t live with someone who values your safety. You’re not responsible for the fact that he’s tried to take advantage of you, you didn’t invite this by taking medication, and you’re not misunderstanding him now.

To me this is a whole different situation.  And so long as the wife is skeeved out by it, it is by definition skeevy.  He is awful. For one thing, who would WANT to have sex with a woman who is essentially unconscious?   Very, very rapey.  I have no sympathy for him and no understanding of his position.

As a 37 year old woman, I've had my fair share of drunk sexual encounters with boyfriends, hook-ups, one-night stands. I don't consider what the husband did rape. He does sound like an ass, though. But maybe I'm in the minority. Anyway, I wouldn't feel violated unless he did something we didn't usually do (e.g. anal).

I debated whether to publish this, because of your final word. But what the hell.  Your point is sound.

I couldn't agree more with your poll response (from a 30 y.o. guy, for what it's worth). I think that the determinant is rather straightforward (from a moral standpoint, at least) - if you're confident, beyond reasonable doubt, that your partner will not be upset that you had sex, it's probably okay. Clearly, there are 25 year marriages where the above scenario would be rape. But in many (most?) others, it likely is not.

Right.   So long as you are being honest with yourself.  I keep coming back to a key question:  Who thinks it is a great idea to have sex with an unconscious woman?  I can't imagine the brain of the guy who gets off on that.

I think Propublica is another good journalism organization to support.


Have you seen the just posted WP article about the Boston Symphony Orchestra gender pay suit? Although I support equal pay for equal work, I don't understand why this female flutist is suing for equal pay of an male oboist. The BSO has specifically countered that playing a oboe is much more difficult with many fewer qualified oboists to choose from. So the equal pay for equal work argument here is just wrong.

I am putting this out there, in the hope some musicians will weigh in, but I have not read the story in question.  To put it in a context more people can understand, it sounds like a utility infielder suing because he is not being paid as much as the closer. 

I don't think she went nuts with her answer. I think she knew the guy was making it up just to be a trouble-maker and was throwing the attitude back at him. The simple fact that he made up the question just to get a rise out of somebody pretty much makes him an a-hole, IMHO -- and she all but called him that.

Well, honestly, I considered that, but if it were her point, I think she blew it.  She called him a rapist, and I see no languange in her response suggesting she was anyting but literally serious.  Do others disagree?  I know Amy, and like Amy, but didn't consult her about this.

Lightning wasn't thought out well by whoever set this whole weather thing up. If you get hit by lightning, the warning (thunder) comes way too late for you to get out of the way. Passing gas gets it right. When you hear the (fast-moving) sound, you can escape before the (slow-moving) assault.

Nice comparison, but I would argue that most flatulence is silent.   Hey I am considering making my next book about farting.  Good idea?  Bad idea?

Perhaps I'm just a total douche myself, but I'm not convinced that he's a rapist even if they weren't in a long-term relationship. Clearly, if they're both sober and have sex, that's okay. Clearly, if she's drunk to the point of incapacitation, it's rape. But why is it necessarily rape if she's drunk to the point of maybe-maybe-not remembering, but not so drunk that she's unable to force herself on him? What if he's at least as drunk as she is? Does that make a difference? How can he - a drunk participant himself - be expected to determine whether she's sober enough to give "consent?" Just seems like a slippery slope here....

Okay, I published this entirely because of the risque but deniable image of your last line.

The principle oboist disagrees with BSO management, and says there's no reason why the oboe should be considered harder than the flute. He supports the flutist.

Ah.  Good.

Flautist, no?  Flutist?  Word suggests the second, but my education suggests the first.

I am a woman and a suuuuuuuuuper lucidly horny blackout drunk. I would have been begging to bang. In the confines of a relationship, I wouldn't be remotely upset had my boyfriend/husband taken me up on my offer. (honestly this has happened with strangers from a bar, and while it's less clear, I still don't feel like I can be mad at them for taking me up on clearly expressed desires)

This reads like a Penthouse Letter, but I choose to believe it.

Add The Globe and Mail (Toronto) to that list!

Yep, good paper.

I agree with your assessment, except for the line "If the lady, in fact, was inebriated and hugely horny and desirous of sex, it was practically the husband's OBLIGATION to satisfy that." It is never a spouses "obligation" to have sex with their partner -- it should always be mutual. How would you feel about a statement that a wife must always satisfy the drunken lustings of her husband?

Fair point.  I think that the given here is that the other spouse wants to, or at least doesn't NOT want to.

Seriously, if this were me, and a beloved partner was wildly horny, I would consider it my duty so long as, for some reason, I really didn't want to.  Or if I were incapable for reasons of inebriation, there are other ways to satisfy ....   I think this is part of being married, you know?

The Cos.

Yes, good point.  Speaking of which, guess which book was the top seller in the country on the day I wrote about in my book?  Yep.  Cos.  Because he was so squeaky-clean.

Principal oboe is marginally more difficult than principal flute, but not to the level of pay disparity they're talking about here. (Note that the oboist in question agrees that the pay disparity is unfair.) There is a gender issue. I don't know enough about baseball to understand your metaphor, though.

A closer is one of the most valuable positions on a team: You need it to be a superstar.   The utility infielder is valuable, but not nearly as valuable.

Here is a quote from today's Post: "“It’s a well-oiled machine,” quipped one Republican close to the White House who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly," What is the point of the "to talk candidly"? I have seen this several times in the Post recently. Aren't you supposed to give a reason for anonymity?

It;s insane.  I wrote (candidaly) about this in a column recently. Here it is.

The Art of the Dealt?

I like that!

Webster's New World says flutist, with flautist as a variant.

Okay, thank you.

This happened to you a few times and yet you think it's made up? I think the author was submitting it to be a dick and in support of the MRA #NotAllMen outlook, but why do you think he made it up? This has happened to me, too, although generally if my wife is drunk enough to not remember anything she's also not able to carry through on her libidinous impulses, or I can distract her when she's that impaired. But before that point, I'm not going to reject her or deem her incompetent to decide just because she is tipsy.

Well please understand that I am 67. When I say it happened 8 times, that means roughly, you know, once every eight years.  It is not a common occurrence.

For me, the primary issue is that the writer suspects/hypotheticals his wife as blackout drunk. I, a woman, can be aggressive towards my husband when drunk. I also, do not object to things that sometimes are (over aggressively IMO) lumped in with marital rape (no, I do not often object if my husband starts something while I am asleep). But I think there is a consent line somewhere; and while I wouldn’t tell her she was wrong if she didn’t mind, if the husband has any suspions that she *would* mind - well, consent matters. Honestly, I think if he was certain she wouldn’t mind, it wouldn’t be a question.

Yeah a lot of this, obviously, depends on our accepting the writer's description of what happened.  If he negleted to mention , for example, that at one point she said "no, wait, stop..."

What if the writer left out the part about Me Too. I like to think that I am a caring and sensitive man — one who respects women. and then continued on with the story. Would that change any thing?

yeah, I wouldn't feel nearly as negatively about him as I do.

I think the idea stinks.

Thank you.

The thing about the marital rape question--and most other fraught conversations about assault--is that you have to take yourself out of the man's mindset and put yourself in the woman's place. Stop thinking "she was naked and hitting on me! she wanted it!" Start thinking about how YOU would feel the day after that happened or while it was happening to you. A little different, eh?

Honestly, i don't know.   Pushing this out to wives / female sig others.  Might you regret a sexual adventure with a long-term squeeze the next day, if you were a very willing participant the night before?

I am a man who agrees with your position, Gene. Would you kindly ask your hot female readers who take the plurality female position -- that it is rape -- to explain why they reach a different conclusion? (When my wife gets drunk, she gets sleepy rather than horny, so this would never happen to me; I'm interested in the ethics of it rather than the practicality.) (I would just play along with the early stages until she fell asleep.)

I am asking.

The female principal flutist is the fifth-highest paid member of the Symphony. Essentially, she's the starting second baseman complaining that she's paid less than the starting shortstop, and it MUST have been due to sexism. However, the starting shortstop was a free-agent lured away from the Indians (Cleveland Symphony), while she was acquired as a minor-leaguer. And she's paid more than any outfielder. I don't see it.

Noted.  Thank you. 

As a fellow appreciator of good lyrics, I thought you might enjoy this, from a current country music hit called Break Up in the End: I'd still play my favorite song in your car / Let you love me to it, 'til it felt like ours / Now all I hear is you in it, but I'd still let you ruin it / Even though we break up in the end Me again -- "you in it" and "ruin it." Great rhymes!

Very nice.

Seeing the class of W this past week at his father's funeral, I started to ask myself the question. Does Trump still rank higher than George W. Bush because in all that Trump has done to degrade the nation, at least he didn't do something as dumb as following Cheney's dumb advice about non-existent WMDs and get us into an almost never ending war in Iraq that has killed thousands of people?

No, Trump is worse for a complicated reason: He has debased the presidency in a way no previous president has, including W. 

In the early days of our relationship, now-spouse and I went to San Antonio, stayed in an historic hotel, got pretty buzzed, and went back to said hotel for what we now term RGS (really great...). Probably neither of us could have actually given "consent," but it was still RGS. In this scenario, both spouses were drinking, wife got naked and made overtures, husband responded. I'm not seeing the problem, and I'm a baby boomer woman.

Nicely revealed.

If anybody without a completely blacked out memory is wondering if they might have maybe raped somebody, the answer is Yes.

yeah, but here is the point:  I don't think the letter writer had any question in his mind.  He knows he didn't rape anyone. He was just being a d--k.  As it were.

I’m a woman, married 8 years, and I’d be fine with it. My husband knows I’d be fine with it. I know some other women wouldn’t, and I assume their husbands know that they wouldn’t. That’s whats awesome about marriage, right? Knowing each other well enough to make those calls? And if you don’t know how your partner feels, ask them, not Amy.

Well put.

Ooop.   Sorry, guys, I need to end this a little early.  Situation has arisen.  Hint: it involves a cat.

We talk next week.  Thank you, and sorry.

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Gene Weingarten
Gene Weingarten is the humor writer for The Washington Post. His column, Below the Beltway, has appeared weekly in the Post's Sunday magazine since July 2000 and has been distributed nationwide on The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service. He was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.

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