The single largest spike in pageviews in my blog’s history happened earlier this month when a subreddit frequented by wastes of human flesh calling themselves “Men’s Rights Activists” found and flipped their shit over the essay I co-wrote with unquietpirate, “You Can Take It Back: Consent as a Felt Sense.” The essay itself is the first public result of a whole host of conversations we’ve been having privately for several years now, as well as the combination of our own individual thought processes and conversations about the topic from before we met. Recently, unquietpirate’s been posting notes from some of those conversations, and they are illuminating insights into where this all came from. Here’s an excerpt of one such post:

I have more to say about this, but I’m concerned about crossing some line.

I am convinced that when SAFE GUY/NO POTENTIAL [to “be a rapist”] gets in over his depth, loses his head and ends up in court when some woman accuses him of rape, he will wave a printout of that article around and argue, “yer honor, I held her down and didn’t really listen when she told me to get off her, but it wasn’t rape because I’M NOT A RAPIST. Look at this thing I wrote! Would a rapist write that?” I’m also convinced that when that thing happens (all the fucking time) where some college dude drinks a bit too much and goes too far with some girl, in the moment he’s not even considering the fact that the thing he is doing is rape. Why? Because his whole life everyone around him has been telling him he’s a good, stand up guy, implicitly incapable of doing wrong. Sure, rapists are out there but there is NO WAY you could be one, my sweet innocent golden-child darling. Your role in the discussion around violence against women will be an ally, a protector. Because that’s who you are.

There’s a goofy comparison to be made here with writing in education: Kids take language arts and the curriculum is be creative! Write whatever you want! The sky is the limit! Then you start writing papers in middle school and they’re crap but don’t worry about it. We’re going to help you with the structure and the grammar and everything and we’re all such very good writers, and then composition comes along and all of a sudden IF YOU WRITE THE WRONG THING AND STEAL SOMEONE’S IDEA THAT IS PLAGIARISM AND WE WILL FAIL YOU AND RUIN YOUR LIFE. This was a very jarring moment for me, stepping from a space of nothing but positive, supportive messaging into a space of responsibility-or-die. I think this is the exact thing that happens to young men who go off to college, and it’s a huge part of why rape happens in that circumstance. I’m absolutely not trying to suggest that both rapists and plagiarists shouldn’t be held accountable. I’m saying they do those things because they aren’t induced into a culture of adult responsibility.

What does this have to do with Schroedinger? Realizing that I’m in that rapist/not rapist space is the ESSENTIAL first step to not actually raping anyone.

There is a way in which a lot of discourse actually contributes to this issue. That original Schroedinger’s Rapist article is a perfect example. In the first few paragraphs of that piece there is this embedded assumption that the men it is supposedly addressing are children: Uneducated juveniles who know not what they do but ALSO are implicitly incapable of committing actual violence. Don’t worry, we’re going to hold your hand through this whole “women-are-people” thing and spell everything out in 5th grade vocabulary so no one gets left behind.

It’s coddling, and It’s deadly.

I don’t think all sex is rape. But I do think all sexual activity is ethically bound to be aware of rape culture. Sort of like anyone takes friends to swim in the ocean has a responsibility to know what jellyfish and riptides are.

That was from a Summer 2013 conversation. It’s Summer 2014 now, and it’s encouraging to see this discussion taking root—even to be railed against—because bluntly I am really impatient to get to talk about the thoughts I have about it now, as opposed to thoughts I had about three or four years ago with people other than unquietpirate over carefully encrypted protocols.

Like the anonymous speaker quoted above, there are things I want to say publicly but do not because I’m concerned about crossing some line. (Which, if you’re even remotely familiar with my work, is saying a lot, considering how many lines I will eagerly cross.) I think that says something truly disappointing about the self-delusional state most people are in. Especially the people whose job it is to have this exact conversation. Yes, I’m looking at you, feminists.

Anyway, I’ve been hammering on this idea that the distinction between “rapists” and “not rapists” Is Wrong. And I’m not gonna let it go. It’s no surprise that the people who most need to internalize that are also the ones most reflexively objecting to it (namely, MRAs and feminist consent activists), while the people who least need to hear that are the ones who are most strongly (and painfully) internalizing it. After all, MRAs and feminist consent activists are both incredibly invested in that there is NO WAY they could be rapists, while people who are just sort of kind of beginning to think about this consistently respond with the most introspective analysis. It’s like the way people who most strongly spew extreme homophobia outwardly not-so-secretly obsess over heart wrenchingly tormented self-perceptions of their own gender and sexuality inwardly.

My point is, a lot of you think the “good cop” vs “bad cop” distinction is a false dichotomy but you still think the “rapist” vs “not rapist” one’s real? Especially a lot of you more Libertarian leaning feminists, you call cops “pigs” but fight tooth and nail protecting legalistic consent because you’re stupid. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not criticizing the value of the consent contracts you make. They’re incredibly useful for a lot of things, not least of which is communicating what you do and do not give permission to happen to your body. Nor am I criticizing Schroëdinger’s Rapist as a rhetorical or political tool. I am not even criticizing the law. I am criticizing you. As The Last Psychiatrist said:

Enjoy what you like, it doesn’t have to have deep meaning to be worthwhile.

But what makes me reach for the now empty bottle is how women have convinced themselves and each other that this is a pro-feminist story. Do you not see what is happening? You are being lied to, by yourselves.