Salon’s “sensitive” Arthur Chu needs to learn about “Yes means Yes.”

“I feel your pain, bitter, lonely, nerdy guys,” writes Arthur Chu. “I really do.” Thus begins an article praised in the Salon newsletter for its alleged “sensitivity.” But what Chu’s essay really boils down to is: 1) grow up, 2) rape is more important than loneliness, and 3) we can’t do anything about loneliness anyway.[1]

That’s sensitive, all right. By effectively labeling such men “immature,” which sounds like an adolescent taunt, Chu calls into question his own maturity.

And while rape mythology in a rape culture is a serious problem, Chu effectively resorts to a false dichotomy: Lonely guys, it seems, deprived of love and affection, will rationalize and possibly commit rape. I might point out that this sounds suspiciously like an argument by conservative Canadian politician William Gairdner that Donna Lee Lillian critiqued in her dissertation. Gairdner, at least according to Lillian, considered it the duty of women to marry men, because men would not be able to control themselves without a woman to take care of their urges.[2] Ick.

Finally, Chu is flatly wrong in alleging that there’s nothing we can do for lonely guys. I’ve supported the idea of “Yes means Yes,” requiring affirmative consent at each step in anything from mere touching to sexual intercourse, since I read the anthology entitled¬†Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti.[3] But I feared it was impractical in a world so accustomed to the traditional way of dating. So, I was stunned when California passed into law a requirement that postsecondary institutions adopt it as policy.[4] Now, my only complaint is that it is not being applied broadly enough: This should be the law of the land applying across society, not just in universities and colleges. The point is not just to reduce the incidence of rape through “misunderstanding,” but to release women from the gender role of sexual gatekeeper, freeing them to be more assertive with men, both in saying “no,” and in saying “yes.”

But Chu thinks men should just grow up, and that women need not change anything. And Salon calls him “sensitive.”

  1. [1]Arthur Chu, “The plight of the bitter nerd: Why so many awkward, shy guys end up hating feminism,” Salon, January 9, 2015, http://www.salon.com/2015/01/10/the_plight_of_the_bitter_nerd_why_so_many_awkward_shy_guys_end_up_hating_feminism/
  2. [2]Donna Lee Lillian, “Canadian Neo-conservative Discourse: A Critical Discourse Analysis,” (doctoral dissertation, York University, 2001).
  3. [3]Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti. eds., Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape (Berkeley, CA: Seal, 2008).
  4. [4]California Education Code §67386 (2014).

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