Tag Archives: coercion

This is a very smart post on moving on and setting boundaries with an ex from Jenn Vicious at In Our Words:

“There’s this thing that sometimes happens when people break up but still care about each other: they want to continue working on things that were problems in their relationship. Don’t do that. My opinion on it is that if you break up with someone, then you are done working out the problems in your relationship. You are more likely to get to a place where you can genuinely care about each other as friends if you actually stop relying on each other for the same support you provided when you were together. You have to change your patterns of behavior, change the expectations you have of each other when you interact. It isn’t easy, but if you didn’t know that you needed to do it, you probably would have stayed in the relationship.”

(Bolding mine) That’s my opinion, too, which is why I say to not use the moment when you break up with someone to critique everything about them that you don’t like. You don’t have to make a case to someone about why your heart moved on, you just have to tell them your decision and then figure out how to live with it. Also, it’s true that when what someone wants (you!) is fundamentally different from what you want (not them!) there is no magic way to extricate yourself without hurting them.

And now, a letter:

Hello Awkwards:

I’m a 22 year old single female student studying library and information science. I’m a gamer, computer – roleplaying and boardgames it’s all the same.

I also don’t drink alcohol. My family thinks it’s a bit weird but prefer it to an extreme in the other direction and don’t bother me about it anymore, strangers and friends however are a different story. Most assume that I’m either religious (in some strange way), on a cleanse (HA!), a recovering alcoholic or even pregnant.

The thing is that I just don’t like the taste and if/when they find this out it’s no longer accepted for me to abstain. It’s always just this one beer or drink or wine that is going to convert me. And I like hanging out with my friends when there’s drinking. I can watch out for everyone and still have an awesome time with just soda. Still someone always asks and I always have to explain and then be pestered.

“It’s to bitter” I will say and they will reply
“Ah but this drink/beer/wine is different, try it”

and no it’s not it maybe sweet compared to other but that doesn’t make it actually sweet or remove the aftertaste of alcohol.

And I never send out the signal that this is something I want solved. I don’t desperately want to get drunk, I’m not in dire need of a drunk Yoda to guide me in the way of the drink. And not to make light of others problems but when I have to compare to trying to convert others to your faith/sexuality just to make them stop trying to enrich your life it’s gone to far- can someone give a way I can try to convince people to leave it alone without referring to these sensitive and more serious issues?

Please help a frustrated absolutist

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As of 12/7 comments on this discussion are closed.


Hello Captain!

I need a script for talking to my girlfriend about what she wants in bed. She’s eighteen and I’m twenty and we’ve been together for four years. Neither of us really experimented with other people before we met each other, so we’ve done most of our sexual experimenting and maturing together. The problem is, we’re still having big communication problems.

The first issue is that, over the past year or so, my girlfriend has started to think that she might be a lesbian. She says she’s attracted to girls and not guys, and has explicitly stated that she’s not physically attracted to me. I think this might be part of the cause of the second issue.

The second issue is, my girlfriend never gives me an answer about whether or not she wants to have sex. She never gives me a solid “no” and she never gives me a solid “yes”. We tried employing a direct consent method where I would ask her directly, “Do you want to have sex right now?” but she would never give me an answer. Instead, she says things like, “Honey…” or “Maybe…” or “Tomorrow, okay?” For a while, she told me she didn’t want me to ask; she just wanted me to do what I wanted. Of course, that backfired, because I could never tell when she was actually into it and when she wasn’t. 

None of her feelings on the matter come up until after we’ve already had sex. I never know if she wanted it or didn’t want it until sometimes hours or days or weeks afterward, when she’ll tell me either that she liked it or that she didn’t actually want to have sex. She gets angry with me during these times and says that I’m using her body, or that I expect sex too often, and then she’ll stop sleeping with me as a way to set me straight. 

Captain, I know that my girlfriend is well within her rights not to have sex with me, and if she wants to have sex with other people instead or not to have sex at all, that’s okay. I love her and we’ll find a way to work it out one way or another. But I can’t do anything to help her feel safe and happy with me if she doesn’t tell me what she wants. If asking her directly doesn’t work, what should I do?

Thank you for taking the time. 


Yes Means Yes

Dear Yes Means Yes:

There is a lot of badness here. At this point, with your history, you should not have any sex with your girlfriend unless she herself initiates it or responds to your request by smiling from ear-to-ear, taking your hand, leading you into the bedroom, and removing your pants while saying things like “This is awesome” and “Yes please!” and “More!”

I can imagine your response to the above suggestion:

But, Captain Awkward, if I didn’t initiate sex then we’d never have sex!

You are correct, this is probably what would happen if you stopped initiating sex. This is because she does not want to have sex with you anymore.

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A pug dressed in a pug costume.

Photo courtesy of DaPuglet on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Hello! I have a backlog of something like 300 unanswered questions in my inbox. I also have some travel, work deadlines, and life stuff that mean I will not be posting here or checking blog-related email until early November. I will try to clean out the spam filter every other day or so, but I’m not even planning to read comments all that closely. Be nice.

Someone requested an open thread to talk about the next 6 months of holidays, from Halloween roughly through Valentine’s Day, and the collection of family stuff, travel, stress, and anxiety that crops up around this time of year. Let this be that open thread. The question below is extremely related.

Hello Captain Awkward!

My question is relatively simple, I suppose.  Can you (or the CA Community) help me come up with some scripts for well-meaning friends & family who are guilt-tripping me about my Chosen Profession?

Every one always speaks very highly of Nurses as a group, but it turns out when you are one, your (or at least, my) friends and loved ones can be easily divided into two camps.  Those who Understand that This is What Being in the Medical Field Entails, and Those That Do Not.  Specifically as it pertains to my work schedule.  My job is not a 9-5 Monday to Friday position.  I do not get weekends or holidays off, because people still need medical care on those days.  I have an amazing bio family that I adore spending the holidays with, but every year I catch flak because if I’m assigned to work one of those shifts (we are REQUIRED to work AT LEAST one, in the interest of fairness to my fellow nurses) I don’t try to get someone else to cover my assigned holiday shift.  Even my close friends will make comments like “I hate your schedule, I never get to see you!” if it’s my month to work weekends.  I love my job and yes, there are parts of it that are annoying, just like every other job I’ve ever had.  But I’ve stopped venting those little annoyances to my non-nursing friends because I’m sick of hearing “You could always look for a normal job, with normal hours.  Then we’d get to see you more and you wouldn’t have to do such gross things!”

I don’t WANT another job, I love being a nurse!  I just want them to stop trying to make me feel guilty about my non-traditional schedule, and the differences in work culture that dictate if I’m scheduled to work Christmas Day, it is TACKY AS HELL to try and get someone else to work it for me.

They told me nursing was a difficult profession in school.  They just didn’t mention that Team Me might need some kind of Rosetta Stone for Nursing afterwards.

Thank you!

In feminist spaces we talk a lot about sexual coercion, but we don’t talk about the kind of smaller, social coercion that goes on all the time.

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Dear Captain Awkward:

I’ve been a closet atheist for almost five years, and it’s getting kind of stuffy in here.

Here’s some background: I’m a Dawoodi Bohra Muslim, which is sort of like the Muslim equivalent of the Catholic Church, only smaller. We have organized clergy, a pope-like figure, etc, etc. My parents are devout. Most of immediate relatives are devout, with the exception of my dad’s family, whom I am no longer close to thanks to a lot of drama. My closest friend is devout.

There are a long list of reasons why I’m afraid to tell the truth to anyone:

1) I’m a freshman in college and dependent financially on my parents. If I tell them, they could do anything from disowning me to forcing me to live at home to sending me to India to attend some sort of religious camp.

2) I might lose people I love — my friends, my family.

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Dear Captain Awkward:

About a year ago I made a conscious decision to stop consuming porn. I stumbled across the basic argument that you can’t be certain whether or not the people being filmed have been coerced. This coupled with recently having  realized that I was/am a Nice Guy(tm) (and being mortified) was enough to make me too uncomfortable with porn to continue to consume it.

A year goes by and porn comes up in jokey conversation amongst friends so I admit to not consuming porn anymore and am interrogated as to why. Apparently it isn’t enough to suspect that some of the people being filmed may be coerced.
The gist of the conversation was that since:

  1. There are women that get rich doing porn
  2. I still wear clothes and use gadgets that are produced by exploited labor.
  3. I am a tool and a hypocrite and therefore totally wrong about porn. At least until I go and actually do something about something else that’s more important like disposing of my smartphone and/or swap out all my clothes for those produced by people making what would be a living wage in the US or EU.

I am stuck with limply stating that I have to start somewhere. OK, maybe I’m a little too bitter about this.

I’m still befuddled by trying to fix the Nice Guy stuff, now I have to defend not watching porn?  I don’t require that anyone else forgo watching it, I have just found the human trafficking/coercion angle very compelling. I guess that it’s possible I may have implied “…and you shouldn’t either.” and that could explain the vehement resistance, but I really didn’t expect it.

I don’t know if I’m just hurt or really offended by their reaction. Do I try to let it drop or do I need new friends?  Or am I just a hypocrite?

I was looking for an analogy that would allow me to write about your question without writing about porn in more detail than I’d like to do under my real name, and then it hit me:

You became a porn vegan.

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