Deal-making and Implied Sex

When I was 17, I had a good friend in my high school class who dropped out of school. She and I began to grow apart for various reasons, one of which was that she was gradually turning into an alcoholic.

Then one day she began telling me how to get your drinks for free. It boiled down to flirting with men while out dancing and the like and then just not putting out.

I think that was basically the end of our friendship. It was dying anyway and that was where I noped out and wanted nothing more to do with her. I don't think I ever saw her again.

The expectation that men make money and use it to get a lover is so entrenched in societal norms that it is generally assumed that men pay for dates with women. "Dating" as is typically practiced amounts to a polite form of prostitution in some sense.

It is a sex for money deal, but one in which the prices are not set directly and there is no guarantee of a pay off for the guy. He can spend all kinds of money and still not get the end result he actually wants, which in many cases is sex. She can always say "no." After all, "good girls don't" and all that.

Like my high school friend, there are women who are willing to use this fact for personal gain in a way that really is not above board. They are willing to basically be bait-and-switch artists who get money out of men with zero intent of ever putting out.

The social contract for dating is that he is trying to impress her and prove that he is worthy. If he does so, he can get laid, and it may eventually lead to marriage.

This social contract breaks when women like my former friend view it as a means to get money for nothing.

I talked yesterday about the fact that if a woman is implying that sex is potentially part of a business deal, she has an unfair business advantage over heterosexual men. I additionally said that if she is implying it, but has no intent whatsoever to actually put out, she is basically using a bait-and-switch tactic and it is a form of con artistry or very close to it.

I have been celibate for medical reasons for over 12 years. So, I have been in no position for quite a long time to reasonably trade sex for money, whether explicitly or implicitly.

Unlike most people, I look to address social trouble at the earliest possible stages. Most people wait until a problem has very clearly developed. I look for its earliest indicators and try to head things off before any problems develop, to the best of my ability.

This combination of 1) being in no position to reasonably trade sex for money and 2) looking to head off trouble before it begins has caused me to think very long and hard about how to make money as a woman without sex being any part of the equation. And it has proven to be really, really challenging.

In my youth, I was quite beautiful and apparently capable of being rather charming. I still can be pretty socially smooth at times, but my looks have faded and that smoothness is less likely these days to be interpreted in sexual terms.

With all that, plus what I have read and written the last couple of days and a few other factors, I find myself contemplating the idea that a lot of business women are probably getting their foot in the door on the basis of an offer of implied sex. In many cases, they are probably not even consciously aware of it.

But I think this is where we need to try to fix the problem of sexual harassment. We need to come up with practices that clearly and unequivocally distinguish business deal-making from dating. We need to do so to protect both men and women, not just women.

In a piece called Shedding Light on the "Black Box of Inappropriateness," Cheryl Yeoh tells her story of being repeatedly asked to have wine alone with Dave McClure and sometimes agreeing and sometimes not. In her words, she was also "his plus 1" at a prestigious event. She describes it thusly:

I felt lucky that an unproven founder like me got to attend this prestigious event that’s limited to 100 VCs and top entrepreneurs. What an opportunity!
She is a very attractive woman and she did not hesitate to accept what most people would view as a date in order to further her career ambitions. She states baldly at some point that her backup plan should things go wrong with Dave was that she has a black belt in martial arts.

So, that's her BATNA. Her BATNA is basically "If men are not adequately respectful, I can beat them up." while happily engaging in date-like behavior as a means to further her career.

According to Wikipedia, she recently married. With that, she apparently also suddenly quit whatever position she held at the time. Then she felt free to write this piece outing Dave McClure for his bad behavior. The piece ends with strongly worded recommendations for how to put a stop to sexual harassment and be more supportive of its victims. The wording is very much framed in terms of men being predators and women being victims.

She admits she benefited enormously from her relationship to Dave. She describes feeling unclear as to his intentions in the time she knew him. She goes from being a big fan of his to now trying to fry him. At no point in this piece does she wonder how she might have handled things differently in order to be more clear with the man that this was a business relationship and romance was not on the table.

After all that he did for her, she feels fine with dragging his name through the mud and blaming the entire thing entirely on him. After all her confusion at the time that these events were going down as to whether or not he was hitting on her, she retcons the whole thing to be "Dave McClure is simply a bad guy. The End."

She doesn't allow for the possibility that perhaps he was equally confused as to what was going on. His statements that he "misread the situation" and similar are used by her as further evidence that he is simply a bad guy.

She went into these situations not wondering how on earth to protect all parties from scandal, but simply confident that if a man went too far, she could use martial arts to solve it for herself and his reputation be damned. Not her problem. It seems to me she made too little effort to make sure things just didn't go that way to begin with and she takes too little responsibility for her part in the whole thing.

This is not a model I want to see promulgated and I am hoping people do not take her hostile recommendations for how to fry men after things do go wrong too seriously. I would much, much rather we try to look for answers that protect both men and women and which focus on prevention. Her list of recommendations comes from an assumption of guilt, which tends to set people up to be trapped rather than creating a safe path forward for all concerned parties.

Though, hey, she has her own Wikipedia page and has closed multi-million dollar deals and has talked with a U.S. president. So, she is likely to be taken far more seriously than I am. I'm just a loudmouthed homeless woman.

But I am a loudmouthed homeless woman who had a corporate job at one time and, when faced with friction with men at that job, managed to handle things quietly and avoid trouble. I also appear to be the top ranked woman on Hacker News and I have worked really hard to handle problems there quietly and diplomatically as well. So far, so good.

I find myself feeling unusually sympathetic to the frustrating behavior of men who seem to very often just not want to take me seriously as a business person. I wonder how often business men get burned by women who imagine they are serious business people, but are really getting by on looks and charm and an implied offer of sex as a way to open doors.

A smooth sea never makes a skillful sailor.
Even if it does not result in the man trying to demand what he thought he was being offered and then getting his name dragged through the mud as some kind of sexual predator because of it, I wonder how often women don't really have that much to offer as business people. When you have an unfair advantage, it tends to curtail your ability to build your chops.

I am finding myself less angry about the hard years I have so recently endured. I desperately want off the street and I desperately want to stop living so hand-to-mouth. But I could have easily been someone for whom doors opened with a smile and then I likely would have never learned how you actually create something of value as a way to make money.

And maybe someday people will respect me and listen to me and we will focus on preventing these sorts of problems, rather than waiting until it all goes wrong and figuring out who to assign the blame.

The post is a follow-up to two posts written in the last couple of days:
Sex, Drugs and Muddy Waters
Status Quo is Not God

While this is currently being trashed as misogynistic bullshit on HN, this other piece just got posted called I Had Sex With An Investor & I Am Sorry. But, hey, I just must be full of shit and hate women or something. Let's go with that.


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