On body language and verbal language

Dr. Warren Farrell is accused of rape apology not least because he thinks that the interplay between verbal language and body language is complex and that, if any rule is possible at all, body language tends to be more important.

Prominent feminists repudiate that notion altogether (“No means No, no exceptions”), others are more or less confused.

Since I think that a slightly oversimplifying picture can help illustrate (ha) a point, I cobbled together this:


Ask yourself: would you say the girl on the left is really saying yes or no? She is in fact saying both. Which one should the boy believe and act on?

If your answer is “No”, you are not from this world.

If your answer is “Yes”, you just agreed that the topic is far more complicated than some want us to believe.

Especially since the behaviour in the flirt phase (or most any phase for that matter) is located in the white “don’t express anything” area in the middle. Every approving or disproving “statement” will likely be very subtle and prone to be misunderstood.


Edit: permutationofninjas further elaborates:

What it’s actually about is avoiding people being taught to listen to body language rather than speech in the first place. What this requires is people to generally synchronize their actions with their body language, most of the time.

When we stop people from being taught to privilege body language over speech through years of dealing with people who don’t say what they mean, the occasional bit of confusion between the two won’t matter because people will be used to listening to what people say in the first place. The issue isn’t necessarily “body language and speech being out of sync”, but rather “people getting used to other people purposely saying things different to what they mean.”

This is flying in the face of the female’s concept of “plausible deniability” that is – as far as I can make out – so deeply rooted, that for the next umpteen generations it does not matter if it is actually rooted in biology or sociology.

In other words: There are soooo many reasons underlying the “I mean yes, or probably I am as yet only open to be convinced, but will never ever ever say so.” attitude that at least 90% of women alive today will never be taught to bring verbal and subliminal messages in line.

In yet other words: I have the highest respect for the humans** at permutationofninjas, but having an ideology (in their case probably along the line “Truth and Honesty are more important than most anything”) blinds you.

It happens to the best of us.

*) xkcd art included under fair-use-rule.

**) Their admins don’t tire emphasizing that they are as mixed a bunch of het-gay-cis-noncis people that I know of no other fitting collective term

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  1. turncoatArbitrator

     /  November 5, 2015

    If someone says “No” and then jumps you immediately after (the graphic implies that the man propositioned her first), then they clearly just changed their mind. The dissenting party is taking the initiative after getting consent from their partner. No problem.

    If someone says “Yes” while cowering in fear, it’s pretty clear they do not feel safe enough to say “No”. That is a problem.

    I’m afraid I don’t understand the point you’re trying to make. If you are ever unsure, ask! ASK ASK ASK ASK ASK! People do not exist in a default state of consent, and no one has a right to access your body. It is a privilege you grant another for however long YOU feel comfortable with.

    If I’m reading this correctly, your position seems to hinge on the idea that you can’t request additional information, that if you are confused, you either just plow forward and hope you aren’t hurting them, or end the encounter entirely. If I haven’t understood what you were trying to say, I’m sorry.

    • “If I’m reading this correctly, your position seems to hinge on the idea that you can’t request additional information,”

      Oh, how sexy… “Since I am not entirely certain about your emotional whereabouts I filled out this request-for-information form in triplicate and kindly ask you to reply in not more than a fortnight. yours sincerely, randy”

      Warren Farrell once wrote that the excitement that stems from the uncertainty of those questions: Do I want this? Does the other want this? How do I feel about this? How does the other feel about this? What will I do?What will the other do? create much of the exhilaration of a first sexual encounter.

      That’s it.

      That’s the reason that Feminists call him a rape apologist.


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