Male: Good morning, John. I want to start this out by saying that I am not a doctor. I'm not a counselor. I haven't experienced sexual abuse. I'm just a person with some thoughts that hopefully could be helpful to someone.
Sex is complicated in, like, every way imaginable. This is not aided by the fact that we have a general societal taboo against discussing it. When we do talk about it, it's often shrouded in metaphors and innuendo and bombasticity. That means a lot of the sexual norms of our culture are mysterious, and we don't actually talk about them. We just sort of infer them. I think that's dumb, and that's part of why I helped Nick and Lindsey start "Sexplanations."
I think that our culture has kind of a messed up relationship with sex. We somehow have made these relationships into, like, predator-prey relationships, like one person is, you know, the cruise missile of desire, and the other one is this sweet, chaste little kitten. And the cruise missile has to get the kitten, and the kitten runs away. I don't know why it's a cruise missile and a kitten. I do know, though, that this is a dumb system.
I think that a lot of the joy and wonder and excitement of a romantic relationship comes from those moments of excitedly discovering that both parties are into this. We're both into this. That's a great feeling. The attack missile/kitten relationship does not encourage that. I want to be clear, I'm explaining culture, but I'm not excusing the behavior. When we're set up to assume that the kitten is going to run whether the kitten wants the cruise missile or not, that enables abuse. In my opinion, this is, I'm sure, not all of the reason, but one of the big reasons why sexual abuse is so common in our culture.
OK. I said sexual abuse, but what is sexual abuse? Legally, the definition has to be very specific so that it can stand up in court, so it's different state to state, country to country. But for the purposes of having a general definition, let's just say that sexual abuse is when one party is being coerced into doing something sexual that they do not want to do.
That can be because the victim is incapacitated, or because the abuser is an authority figure, or because the victim is placed in a dangerous situation where they feel like they don't have the option of saying no or getting out of the situation. The gender of the parties is irrelevant. It can be sex. It can be kissing. If one person doesn't want to be doing what they are doing, and they are being coerced or pressured into doing it, then that is abuse.
And it is ubiquitous, and needs to not be, because it holds us back as a culture. We have to rid ourselves of that outdated and rotten conception that sexual relationships are like predator-prey things.
Let's zoom in for this. Romantic relationships can be wonderful, but you have to have that magical thing: consent. And not saying no is not the same as saying yes. We need to communicate. We need to be sensitive. We need to talk about what we do and don't want to do, and we have to respect and not pressure people when they don't want to do something.
This video is part of a long conversation that is going to continue to be had for a long time. But John and I have some ideas about how to keep it moving. First, we've already started working with a group of nerd fighters, including some survivors of sexual abuse, who will be working as a task force against abuse and assault.
Second, we want to produce and fund a series of videos that discusses abuse and consent and sexual relationships, especially in light of the new digital world, like where does Skype fit into it all. Right?
And third, we're looking to partner with some existing sexual assault organizations to bring their work and their resources into our community, and hopefully into other online communities, as well.
John, I know we're not going to fix the whole world, but I'm pleased to be in a position where we can at least start to help enable some positive change. I'll see you on Tuesday.
If you're in an abusive relationship, or you think you might be, and you're just not sure, there are links in the description to help you figure out where you're at, and to people who you can call or go to for help. Sometimes just figuring out the abusive nature of a relationship can be a huge challenge, and once you're in there, it can seem like it is impossible to escape. But it is not.There may be small errors in this transcript.