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October 17, 2011

Cosmo's Guy Guru Doesn't Understand Consent

There's a regular column in Cosmo called Ask Him Anything that features sex and relationship advice from "guy guru" Ky Henderson. We're generally not fans of Mr. Henderson's advice (or 99% of the other advice that appears in Cosmo), but one answer that he gave in the November issue really set us off.

Q: My boyfriend wants to have sex all the time. Even if I tell him no, I end up waking up to him humping my leg. How do I let him know what a turn-off that is?

A: I'm not a scientist, but I think there are two reasons why he constantly wants to have sex with you: One, he is a dude. Two, he thinks you're hot. These are both good things, so the challenge is to come to a compromise without acting as though he's doing something wrong.

In the middle of the night, a subtle knee jerk to push him off you will do the trick. But you also have to discuss it in the a.m., because if you repeatedly reject him in the hopes that he'll eventually get the message, you'll both end up frustrated. Say something like, "I love having sex with you, but when I'm sleepy, I don't feel sexy."

And since he's clearly into spur-of-the-moment sex, try initiating the occasional spontaneous hookup - when you're actually, you know, conscious. Once in a while, attack him as soon as he comes through the door or pull him into a dark corner of a bar and make out. He'll be psyched...and you won't lose any more sleep.

Let's just jump right in, shall we? First of all, I call bullshit on Ky's brilliant diagnosis of 'he's a dude so he can't control his manly sex urges, and it's your fault anyway because you're totally hot and stuff'. (I'm so glad that he clarified that he's not a scientist before he produced this gem of an answer, because I totally would have thought this was some serious professional advice otherwise.) I wouldn't buy a "boys will be boys" excuse if we were talking about an actual teenage boy here, so I'm certainly not going to accept it as a defense for a grown man who has already been told by his girlfriend that she isn't into it.

Henderson then loses me completely by declaring that the solution here is for the woman to come up with a compromise, except that apparently she's the only one in the relationship who has to do any actual compromising since she also has to make sure that she doesn't act like he's "doing something wrong". He fails to explain why she should have to act that way, since her boyfriend absolutely is doing something wrong, but I'm sure some very scientific theories about the fragile male ego are involved.

This advice is a complete failure and potentially sends some dangerous messages to Cosmo readers because Henderson never properly addresses the issue of consent. He barely allows for the fact that this woman's concerns and feelings may be legitimate, and the answer fully revolves around making sure that her boyfriend isn't left feeling "frustrated" or unsatisfied or, god forbid, as if he's done something wrong.

So, we're here to help. We'll even use Henderson's own scientific formula to help him understand. The letter states that this woman's boyfriend wants to have sex more often than she does, to the point that she will wake up to find him 'humping her leg', even after she has told him no. This means that her boyfriend's behavior is wrong and inappropriate because 1) he is trying to initiate sexual activity with her when she is not in a position to consent because she is asleep, and 2) she has already said no to any sexual activity in that situation and he is persisting anyway. And Ky, this isn't happening 'because he's a dude', but because 1) he's not respecting his girlfriend's boundaries and not listening when she says no, and 2) he apparently doesn't understand how consent works any more than you do.

I had a brief moment of hope that this advice was about to improve when I got to the part about discussing things in the morning. Silly me, I thought Henderson was going to suggest a discussion along the lines of "if I say no to sex while I'm awake, it's not okay for you to try to go ahead with it anyway after I fall asleep". But no, it's actually about making sure that he doesn't get frustrated by her 'rejections' of his inappropriate behavior. Of course this can be accomplished by the tried and true Cosmo method of never having an honest conversation about how you really feel. In lieu of any actual communication, Ky says this woman should tell her boyfriend that the problem isn't his bad behavior, but her not being able to "feel sexy" when he makes his unwanted late night advances. The rest of the advice is all about making sure that his desire for "spur-of-the-moment sex" is fully satisfied at all times, because that is what's really important here.

Hey Cosmo, you know what's sexy? Consent is sexy. Please teach this lesson to your Guy Guru before he gives any more bad advice.


Travis said...

"Should I really be saying this? I mean, this sort of advice should really from from a professor of Bonerology! Well, I'll just throw in a disclaimer aaaaand we're done."

Anonymous said...

Ky Henderson has given some bad advice before, but this one just really crosses the line. I honestly think Cosmo should issue a retraction and make him apologize.

Unknown said...

Good to know Ky Henderson enables rape.