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The Predicament of So-called Predators: A Problematic Philosophy, or Mechanism to Manipulate?

A young male college student who I have had the pleasure of building an excellent rapport with during his exemplary college career dismantled my sensibilities recently when he shared with me how he was being seen around the campus by many. He vented a concern that he was being viewed and labeled as a predator because of his dating a variety of young women. Now, he wasn’t being seen as a “cheater,” because he had successfully articulated and established himself as non-monogamous. Like George Clooney, a confirmed bachelor, he thought there was no problem with him honestly having his choice of women as companions as long as everything was out in the open. Somehow though, the moniker of “player” that stereotypically gets attached to a male who determines he doesn’t want to be in a monogamous relationship isn’t being used as much on some college campuses. Like the term “whore” or the more abbreviated slang term “ho” that has been used as a mechanism to manipulate women into conforming to Judeo-Christian values, predator appears to carry similar weight and now be the preferred accusation.

The male college student then went on to share with me that some other young men who also were dating multiple women with no interest in a monogamous relationship were also being framed as predators. I couldn’t believe what he was telling me. Since when did our college campuses become Nazi Germany? Granted, we could discuss until we are blue in the face whether our young men and women should be in college looking for their life partners with their education as the secondary focus, or whether they should be in college focusing on their education with their romantic life secondary. Yes, and of course there are those who are capable of finding the perfect balance with their education being nicely augmented by their romantic partnering with someone. But in any of these cases, should there be a judgment accompanying one pattern of dating behavior over another? Oh, and why is it that only the young men are being called predators?

I was once publicly called a predator myself. Actually, it was a “sexual predator” in response to a blog I once wrote for Wiley Wandering. That attempt to publicly humiliate me with such language was an inept attempt to besmirch my reputation by someone who never spoke with me one-on-one, yet somehow must have acquired quite a bit of insight into me, far beyond that of all the people who really know me. As an adult I’ve come to realize that haters hate because they lacked dates, don’t like their fate, have few things to celebrate, seldom feel great, and often just can’t relate. But young men who are honestly and unabashedly just starting to live their young lives shouldn’t’ have to deal with such stigmatization should they?

But before we put the cart too far in front of the horse, what exactly is a predator? Well, the dictionary essentially defines it as someone who preys on others. Ironically, wouldn’t the deliberate misuse of the term by a person or group make her/them the predators? After all, to deliberately attach such a problematic label to another person, knowing full well its impact, is not a gesture of kindness or consideration, unless you are of the mindset that even inconsideration is a form of consideration. And how does a young man in his early twenties prey on a young woman in her early twenties if he isn’t doing something dubious or criminal. Outwardly announcing no interest in a monogamous relationship and then at times experiencing intimacy with different women across a given weekend would make him no less a predator than it would make a whore/ho out of a woman who had multiple lovers across a period of days, right? As long as both parties are of legal consenting age, is she a predator if he is 18 and she is 24? How about if she is 19 and he is 25? Before we go too far down this road why does it change when she is 29 and he is 35? The six years difference in age should have been somewhat negligible with the 19 and 25 year old couple, especially since women mature faster than men anyway, right? As a matter of fact, is predator a term that is gender specific? Of course not, because if men can be whores/hos, then women can be predators, right? Somehow it would not seem fair if lesbians couldn’t be predators too. Okay, so then can men be predators against other men if they don’t want a monogamous gay relationship? This is confusing stuff!

Could predator be a mechanism of manipulation to control the previously framed player’s behavior, making him mindful of the negative connotation and thus self conscious of his moves? But wait, with the sexual revolution having passed and returned too many times to keep count we can’t be really thinking now that it is okay for people outside of relationships to become the moral majority, approving or disproving relative notions of promiscuity. Which is it? It was once not okay for two women to be lovers, but until some sanctioned political body sanctions the arrangement it isn’t okay for three women to be lovers? Then I need not even discuss threesomes because coming from me, a once publicly accused sexual predator it couldn’t be a philosophical conversation, but predatory posturing.

On an ideal college campus Residence Life, Fraternity & Sorority Life, Women Studies, Diversity Centers, Education and other academic departments within Humanities and Social Sciences departments, as well as student organizations are all working diligently to challenge the students to be leaders in a global society. These organizations are also, ideally, working collaboratively to make sure that all their students are being academically enriched by one another so as to better ensure the best academic experience, right? So, how does it happen that we can challenge our students to not buy into the hype associated with the privilege that accompanies the facilitation of able bodies, non-egalitarian gender bias, irrational racism, self serving socio-economic class consciousness, and heterosexism/homophobia, and yet want to take them to task when they don’t conform to a socially constructed dating ritual? As a Black person I find it difficult to become comfortable turning a blind eye to Black people who are biased towards other races but ready to scream bloody murder at the racism they experience. As a heterosexual I find it difficult to identify myself as “straight” when I know to many it may imply that members of the GLBT community are “crooked,” or in essence, “deviant.” And I wonder how it must be for women who have worked so hard for egalitarian status to then sit and watch other women, many of whom carry varying societal scars inflicted by men and who have come to understand the power they have in unfounded accusations against men, play their language games with veiled but nonetheless dubious messages that cloak a covert double standard simply because as a once oppressed group without a voice, everyone is overcompensating to now hear theirs.

Is the reason these young men are now being called and framed as predators simply because the terms player, whore/ho were ineffective in inducing conformity? What’s the next term that will be used to curtail their activities? Let’s see, womanizers already been used. Oh, I know, how about “single?”

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Comments

It seems that despite his intention to be "up front," the young man has not made it clear to those he has been dating what he wants out of his relationships. For whatever reason, he leaves a trail of unhappiness, regret, and bitter feeling.

I don't know the situation, but it seems like a communication problem to me. As you said above the words we use are loaded...and unfortunately, they are loaded from each of our perspectives. Particular words mean more to some than others. There are words (like bitch, ho, homo, gay) that are used casually in everyday conversation that are much more problematic than is often apparent.

In the case of the gentleman in your post, I would hazard a guess that his explanation of being single (to the women he meets) is vague. It would almost have to be to "end the night successfully", right? More specifically, and to the point of our words being problematic, he might say to a woman that he's single, and not looking for a relationship. He might even say that he is dating other women. To him, that means he's free to date whomever, whenever...no strings attached. To her, that may mean that he's not looking long term, but for now, he's with me, and there "may be a chance." Despite the gentleman's idea that he's being forthright, I doubt he's actually pointing out the fact that despite sleeping with her today, he's likely to sleep with someone else that night or tomorrow or both.

Frankly, I don't see the point of sleeping around. If it's about sex, then it uses women (or men) as a tool...as an object. If it's about connecting with people, and experiencing, and learning...then what's the rush? Why leap to sex immediately. In our youth, we THINK we can make a deep connection instantaneously...that one intimate conversation MEANS something. And can you really get all that close to one person...focus deeply on one person...if you're doing the same thing with two others? And can one person be so oblivious to the way the world works that he doesn't see how problematic juggling relationships could be without being EXPLICIT up front?

I'm a father...a father of a daughter and a son...so I'm biased with the perspective of a man protecting his kids. So I will almost always come down on the side AGAINST the "players" as they, whether they intend it or not, are the ones who cause pain. Maybe perspectives need to change, maybe our view of relationships is too narrow, too conventional. But in the end any given relationship at any given minute is between two people, and it is the responsibility of both those people to be "on the same page" in terms of the boundaries of the relationship.

***Whaler, when people communicate, in earnest, their intentions, and the person receiving that communication hears them and clearly states he/she heard them, how do we take the communicator to task?

In today's society you don't have to declare single status in a veiled way to have our evening end ideally. Your concern that a woman might be thinking or hoping for a relationship beyond what the man might have clearly articulated is noble, but not fair to the man who has taken the time to articulate his position. Consider the fact that this declaration of intentions might have always been received well and never caused him problems. Are you really suggesting that he is liable for the 1 out of 10 times that a woman doesn't maintain a perspective, even though it was stated, overstated, and perhaps even restated by her? If he is dating a few women and she is one of the few then she should know if they have a healthy sexual relationship that he might have the same type of relationship with others. Let's keep in mind, so might she? I am not a proponent that people must give intimate details about their other romantic moments to placate their other non-monogamous relationship.

Your Kantian take on sex has always been a provocative one to consider. Sex outside of marriage is usually problematic if you are a Christian. Sex outside of marriage can also be problematic if you are a romantic who believes in the concept of soul mates. But sex does objectify the other, even if it is just as the object of affection. We use sex to position ourselves in our relationships if not to cement those relationships, to escape our doldrums or pain, to satisfy our partners in ways that our words just can't compete with. We don't want to own the fact that everyone uses everyone during sex, but how is that not the case? When you suggest that one person is oblivious to not understanding the ramifications of not being EXPLICIT you are also implying that the person hasn't been explicit enough. Are you seriously trying to suggest that you also are responsible for every time someone didn't understand you no matter how explicit you were? Just because we are talking about sex, something we don't talk enough about, doesn't mean it should be held to a higher standard than any other basic good intentioned conversation, does it? I mean, people tell others they aren't in love with them but that doesn't prevent the unrequited lover from still trying to make the other one fall in love.

Lastly, I totally disagree with you that it is the players that cause pain. Primarily because first of all, as you have acknowledged already, language is powerful, and the term "player" is as subjective as the term "ho" and "predator." Players aren't the ones who "always' cause pain, necessarily. Granted sometimes they do because some "people," both women and men, embrace the notion of player and all it connotes. Sometimes the pain is self inflicted by lovers who believe they can change the so-called players program, and fail to do so. And then, hell hath no fury like a lover scorned. However, if a person has other priorities in life than putting one romantic interest over others, being monogamous simply because a lover desires it, they shouldn't be demonized.

Has anyone stopped to think about the fact that our divorce rate is as high as it is for many reasons, including the fact that too many people get married to the first person that they meet whom they have a rhythm with.

Even then, like you, as a father I teach my children to always try to do the right thing. Like you, I want to protect my children. But unlike you Whaler, my friend, that is where our philosophies differ. I will challenge my kids to listen carefully to not only what people say, but the way they say things. Sometimes no matter what you do or say people, or in this case lovers, won't be on the same page. When that happens, the page must be turned. *** -- J.W.

Why do you choose the 6 year age gap? Why not a 19 year old and a 26 year old? Don’t call it two individuals in their early twenties when it’s not. Better yet, how about college age and fifty-something? Some may say that age is just a number, which may be true in some cases, but in other cases, it’s much more than just a number, especially when it’s just one part of a deep power differential between the two partners.

One may ask what the problem is with two individuals consenting to sexual relations outside of a long-term relationship. Some would find a problem there and some would not, but how about what’s the problem with forcing a woman’s head down to give oral sex to a man? Where’s the consent in that? That’s an assumption of consent, an exertion of power. It is not consent. It’s relevant because it’s happened with this individual that you’re defending.

How dare you compare this situation to Nazi Germany! The deaths of 6 million Jews plus 6 million others – the disabled, homosexuals, artists, political activists. Experiments of pain on one twin to see if the other twin would feel it. Torturing and killing a baby in front of his/her mother to test the extent of the mother-child bond. Marching people through the snow and shooting them if they slow down. Equivalent to what you’re describing? I think not. How dare you trivialize the suffering of millions!

Yes, calling someone a “predator” is a form of social control. So are rules about professor conduct.

*** La Verdad, the only thing worse than anger is misguided anger, which it is apparent you have. The proof of this comes out pretty clearly in your attempt to chastise me for my reference to Nazi Germany. READ La Verdad, READ! Your detailed analysis of the impact of the Holocaust is very much appreciated by me because any time those atrocities are reiterated it is a good thing. It never hurts to bring that to people's consciousness. However, I made a reference to Nazi Germany for its intolerance of people's lifestyles, nothing more. The context was there for you to see it, but your venom towards me and blindness as a result didn't allow you to see it, did it?

And your thinking you know the person I wrote about is really intriguing. Okay, so someone you know who is 19 had a horrible experience with a 26 year old. Because of that I've changed the ages of my scenario to protect someone you deem as a guilty party. La Verdad, grow up! There are always at least two sides to every story. While I don't know the situation you framed, I do know the power of language, especially when it is being engaged by someone with an axe to grind. Anyone reading your post can see the axe you wield.

Oh, and your veiled statements about me don't concern me. I'm a heterosexual, single, Black man in the North Country. That fact alone often bothers people, especially people who lack the sophistication to know that I engage adults, not children. I have had many relationships with many colleagues, and don't need to defend any of them from unfounded accusations. You only join the camp of many other very insecure heterophobes who immediately find fault with me for the relationships I form with young women, but give me a pass with the ones I forge with young men. Or perhaps you are an beautiphobe, whereas if the young women that I develop relationships with were less attractive we wouldn't be having this conversation. Is it possible that you are jealous because I'm enjoying my life to the fullest and the highlight of your day was this feeble attempt to take me down a notch? Or perhaps you are in like, lust, love with someone who won't give you the time of day and so here you are, calling yourself in Spanish, "the truth," when you really should be calling yourself the Spanish equivalent of "half truth" or "bitter person."

Yes, I have some power with my position, but I have never wielded it in a dysfunctional way. However, let's not play games. As a woman you devalue all women by taking away their agency with an outdated argument that they immediately yield their power the moment they enter into any arrangement with an insinuated power deferential. You also devalue the real moment when a woman is at risk from real danger by suggesting real problems because of your failure to grasp reality. *** -- J.W.

As a female who sleeps with other women, I have been labeled a player or a pimp. Funny enough, when sleeping with multiple men, I was labeled as a ho. It's very interesting, these labels, "ho" for sleeping with men and "player" for sleeping with women. It makes me think that sleeping with men is seen as a bad thing...

Never have I been called a predator, though. I can imagine it wouldn't make me feel very positive about my activities. However, I do recall being preyed on. There's a feeling that comes with someone who just won't leave you alone. They call once, you don't answer. They call again, you don't answer, so they leave a message. You don't call back and they call again, leaving more messages, etc. This is probably the best I can do with labeling someone from my own experiences as a predator. A predator is not someone who lets me know the deal before we get down.

Yet, I do also recall reading into certain statements made by different men after they had told me they wanted a strictly sexual/ friends with benefits relationship and I often thought they just weren't being honest with me when we "drew up the initial contract." This led to my being hurt when I realized I was the one dreaming up fantasies, disregarding what they had said from the beginning.

Unfortunately, this desire to decipher the "men's language" I refused to understand, penetrated the relationships I had with women. I told them from the beginning what I wanted, or didn't want in terms of a committed relationship, knowing this would make them work harder to win my love. It worked, but I often found that I fell harder than I wanted to and when they finally got the love they wanted, there was no more chase. Is this why people say they don't want committed relationships? Is it a way of controlling their partner's emotions? For me it seemed to be and by writing this, I realize...
I have been a predator.

*** Via Via, I'm seldom speechless, but your definition and ownership of predatory behavior makes me have to reconsider some of my perspectives on the term. Wow! *** -- J.W.

JW,

I'm not sure where to start. For some reason, I get the feeling we're not on the same page...not in terms of agreement necessarily, but in terms of talking about the same thing.

First, let me make it clear that I made no moral judgments about whether individuals should or should not have sex before marriage, or with several people at a time. The individual who dates several people at once, to me, isn't a "player" unless his/her intentions are to sleep with as many people as they can...disregarding the fact that those they are in a relationship with are playing under a different set of rules.

Relationships are complicated. Just when we think we've connected...that we've finally understood a person...a misunderstanding can lead to an argument over a misconception. People are constantly changing...evolving...based on the experiences we have. A detailed explanation of intentions "up front" is really only good for that moment. As the relationship grows...or ages...things change...perspectives change...feelings change...and at some point, that original explicit explanation of intentions maybe no longer applies. That's where communication becomes critical. Intentions can't just be stated one time, up front, and left...they need to be expressed throughout. Now I don't know the details of your example, so I won't make a judgment on whether the young man did this or not. But in a relationship, I do feel there is a responsibility on both parties to always make clear "how things are going"...or more simply put...what each are thinking.

To move to your last paragraph, I have to say I didn't like the implication you make about our differing "philosophies". You said you "will challenge [your] kids to listen carefully to not only what people say, but the way they say things." Clearly you think I don't intend to do that? Wasn't that one of my initial points? Didn't I state that words are loaded, and it's critical to make it clear to those you are in a relationship with exactly what you are thinking, and to make an effort to truly "get" what the other is saying? Relationships are important...they are about respect for another individual, and that's also what I want to teach my kids. I'm not exactly sure what you were driving at...as your statement puzzled me. I saw that statement as a common ground...not a divergence in thinking.

Finally, a question. We can all recognize we live within a very structured, rigid system when it comes to dating/marriage/sexual relationships. Much of our societies norms are Christian in origin. And good or bad, many, if not most, people still are "stuck" in that view. To what extent are those with an "enlightened" or "alternative" view responsible for understanding the "way the world is" and recognizing that on some level they are on the outside looking in? They may be game changers...but do game changers have a higher responsibility for bridging the gap? They are the educators, right? Just food for thought...

*** Whaler, I appreciate the caveat about not making moral judgments, but I didn't get that from you.

I do agree that people need to "check it" with one another to best ensure they are on the same page. I have always said and adamantly believe that communication is the key to all relationships. However, people can communicate only from the position of awareness that they have. In other words, if one person isn't feeling forthcoming about the extent of their feelings, or as Via Via implied, if a person has the motive of thinking that she/he can change their partner's perspective on monogamy regardless of that partner's adamant position, then all bets are off. We can only protect "adults" so much. What often happens in relationships is that people hear what they want to hear. And people who are accustomed to having things their way due to their social or economic class, beauty, or varying other dimensions of privilege often believe they can influence the object of their desire's script.

I apologize to you for the "differing philosophies" statement. We have been doing this intellectual exchange for a long enough time now where I do know your thoughts on communicating with your children. I got swept away in my keystrokes and played myself. You didn't deserve that and I'll try to refrain from coming at you like that in the future. You give me enough ammo as it is ;).

Your last point was a gem. Yes, so-called game changers, or people with aspirations to change the game should have the ability to elevate themselves above the fray with a perspective that it takes people time to have that personal epiphany. However, the so-called enlightened also suffer from a common ailment that the so-called non-enlightened suffer from, it's called being "human." *** -- J.W.

I have to take issue with someone who is single and sleeps around being called a "predator", because when I hear the term I immediately think of "To Catch a Predator". I'm sure everyone has either seen the show or knows what it is about, but they aren't searching for someone who has sex with multiple partners, they are searching for people who "prey" on young children. To connect someone who has sexual relationships with multiple willing adults to someone who takes advantage of children is a bit of a stretch, don't you think?

I can also say that I have been called my fair share of names in college as well, and while "predator" was never one of the (to my knowledge), "player" certainly was. Now, while I don't think that is an accurate description, I can see how it would appear that way to an outsider. For instance, how many times do two people continue on with a relationship that is completely based on sex and nothing else with neither person ever developing feelings for the other person? Very rarely, if ever, I believe.

The college experience was one that was fundamentally necessary for me to grow as an adult. When someone asks me what my major in college was I always say "Business Communication, but it might as well have been in 'Growing Up'", because that is how I feel about it. Everything I went through in college made me more prepared for the rest of my life than any degree possibly could. Everything I went though made me who I am today, and without them I don't know where I would be. For instance; I now carry on a monogamous relationship with a woman I love that would not have been possible in college. Even if I had met her in college I would not have been capable of feeling the same way about her that I do now. I needed to experience the relationships I did first hand in order to know what I liked and what I didn't like. If I had met her in college I likely would have just been interested in a "fling" and nothing more. But having gone through what I did in college I immediately recognized what I saw in her as much more.

I'm not saying what I did was right, and works best for everyone. Surely, that is not the case. I look back on the way that I treated some women in college and am not exactly proud of it. Perhaps I should have been more up-front in some cases and maybe I should have been less selfish in what I wanted, but I still cannot use the word "regret" with how I handled those situations, because they made me who I am today.

My initial argument was against the word "predator" because I think it is a label that simply doesn't fit. In college I had a friend who was the envy of many of his peers because of his "success" with women. I remember in one instance he was laying in bed with a female he had just had sex with and curiosity got the best of her and she asked how many women he had sex with. He was completely caught off guard and didn't want to answer the question. He just quickly responded "uhhh... seven." She got up and ran out of the room in tears because she was appalled at the number. Imagine her horror if he had told her the real number (which was well into the seventies). She thought of him as a "predator" or "player" while he was just throwing out a number that he thought she would find appropriate. His male peers looked up to him and thought of him as an alpha-male for this "success", yet among women he was considered "gross" for the same exploits. It is a double-standard that I'm not sure we will ever see corrected.

For the same reason, I believe a female that is called a "whore" for sleeping around is a tired word, because it holds no value. It is often used by men and women as a way to devalue a woman who has the same type of "success" as my friend. Might it really be used by women who are jealous of the "success" the other woman is having? Perhaps also it could be used by men who are upset because they were not fortunate enough to be part of the "success" the woman is having? Regardless, the words "whore" and "predator" when applied to someone who has several sexual relationships in college is fundamentally incorrect. I like J.W.'s suggestion that "single" replace those words. I also believe that if you asked the majority of people who are in relationships the one thing that they miss most about being single, I think you would find that most of us are "players" at heart.

Great Blog. I once heard it said, "if you ain't the predator, you're the prey."

I'm just saying!

First, I’d like to say that I disagree with the use of the word “predator” for the actions of these young college men. As a male college student, I understand college to be one of the best times of my life. When I first came to school I vividly remember having a conversation with my older brother, telling me to never have a girlfriend and to live my college life to the fullest. I interpreted this comment my brother made into, have many romantic relationships and many romantic experiences. Maybe he told me this because it was something he did not have the opportunity to do, since he was in a committed relationship three out of his four years at college. But, isn’t college the place to gain new experiences, romantic or not, before you venture out into the “real world?” I do not see there being a problem with any one who is non-monogamous relationships with different people. By having different romantic relationships people understand and know what they are looking for in their future partners, like Dan said in the previous comment.

The use of the word “predator” when referring to someone who is in a non-monogamous relationship where both people understand that the relationship is non-monogamous is wrong. I believe it’s societies way of labeling a person or group of people because they are not conforming to the “norm.” I believe that no one should have the right to comment on another persons sexuality, sexual preference, or sex life in general. Especially, if they are not involved in the other persons sex life, but I understand haters’ talk. The word “predator” is just another way of labeling and demoralizing people. The use of the word “predator” can be compared to how some refers to homosexuals as “fags.” It’s another label and term that an individual may take offense to. I know if I were called a “predator” I would definitely be upset.



Use of the word "predator" in this context is hyperbolic and ridiculous, making all discussion as to whether or not the shoe fits a particular man or woman because of their sexual prowess similarly ridiculous.
"Predator" when referring to humans, particularly in a sexual context, is (should be?) reserved for the most egregious offenders of human rights and human dignity. Serial murderers, rapists, child molesters - THEY are predators. Over-use of the word dilutes its meaning and takes the sting out of it for those who truly deserve the label.
- During the democratic primaries for the 2008 presidential election, John Edwards, Barak Obama and Hilary Clinton shared the stage for a few debates. After one of them when it appeared that Obama and Edwards were both taking shots at Clinton, the head of the National Organization for Women (NOW) called the event an "electronic rape" of Clinton.
- During the debates over health care legislation in this country we heard terms like "death panels" and "socialist" and "fascist" and "Nazi policies."
These are just a few other examples where over-use of a word or phrase diminishes its impact. Just read back through all of the blog entries here and count the number of times the word “predator” is used….you’ll soon find the word loses all meaning for you as you say it over and over again.
We should not abuse each other in this way, but perhaps more importantly, we should not abuse our language this way. Labeling a person scandalously may harm that individual for a time, but, allowing the few really strong words in our lexicon to become diluted in this manner harms our society.

*** CB, you provided quite the lesson on considering our language usage and its context. This is one of those times where you straight dropped it like it was hot. I want to pick it up and engage it, but best let it cool off first... *** -- J.W.

I'm wondering what the intent of the label is, in this case? Is it to demonize and control, as we're all assuming? That is certainly plausible, and if so is part and parcel of the hyperbolic language of much current political discourse, as Card Buddy noted.

On the other hand, one thing that has struck me about raising a child is their creation and misuse of language as they try to figure it out. I remember when my daughter started greeting us with "Peace out!" It took her mom and I several months of responses like "good-bye" before she stopped "misusing" the term as a greeting. I remember when she came home and told us that she was working in science with a couple of "stone-heads", and our relief that she meant they were stupid, not pot smokers. It seems to me that each generation develops its own lexicon to some extent, and this may be nothing more than that.

Of course, "predator" already has strong connotations that I would hope young adults would know. As such, I suspect that labeling those young men as "predators" is done with full knowledge of that word's meaning. I also am a bit skeptical that these young men are as forthcoming and clear about their intentions as they are portrayed, but that is a different issue.

*** Daniel, I would hope that the people who are labeling others would be considering the impact of their words, but I doubt it. If so, upon any type of self reflection, they would probably come to realize that they themselves are most likely, living in a glass house.

On the other hand, like Whaler, you also doubt the earnestness of the young men. That makes me wonder how powerful an accusation must be,especially since I started off my blog with implying the young man was of normal character. This doesn't mean a noble person can't do something irrational, or down right stupid, but it also doesn't mean that he did. It may be easier to believe a man exhibited predatory behavior when a woman accuses him of it, but wouldn't that also be based on the character of the woman, or person accusing. While we never want to blame the victim, we do want to know something about the witnesses (at least their motives). Since I know the two young men in question, and nothing about any of the accusers, why would there be any doubt or skepticism about how forthcoming the young men had been? *** -- J.W.

JW,

Card Buddy makes a good point about the diluting effects of using harsh words and references when we really mean something much less severe. Nazi Germany’s “intolerance of lifestyles” was more of a “destruction of life.” Polyamory may be a “lifestyle,” but being a part of the Jewish people, one’s sexual orientation, being differently abled, and so on seems to me to be far more than a lifestyle choice, as practicing polyamory is. I can agree that "predator" is another word that we should not label other people with lightly, but nevertheless, we also should not be too quick to dismiss the harm that predators do when a person is misled, greatly pressured, or forced to do something.

It was my mistake to worry about precise numbers. I suppose a better question would be at what age difference do we draw the line, or should we draw no line? What factors give one person power over another? Age? Professional relationship? Control over another’s career? Different degrees of intoxication? More than one of these holds up in a court of law in questions of consent and violating rules of conduct. Power differentials do exist in almost all relationships. It is not an outdated thought that sometimes such a power gap is so great that it puts immense pressure on a less-powered partner to act in a certain way. That is not to say that each partner cannot still make his/her own decision, but the decision-making process may be more clouded and inhibited than usual.

I’m unclear about what made you think that I am a woman, not heterosexual, not fitting with our culture’s current standards of physical attractiveness, or unsatisfied with my own romantic life. When writing to someone you think is juvenile, why not write back in an adult way rather than bringing yourself down to random name-calling? Yes, the truth can be bitter.

-La Verdad

*** La Verdad, you are right, I should have written back in a way that you would have considered adult-like, which would be hard for me to do when you consider that your perspective on adult-like behavior may be reflective of your lack of understanding this whole discussion of predator, as evidenced by your continued usage in a dysfunctional predetermined context.

And regarding power differentials, there is also one in writing in anonymity, right? That is why you enter the blog under the cloak of a veiled moniker like "La Verdad" cast whatever aspersions you choose to, and then end your post as if you have character and courage. Your truth is to intimate veiled assertions and actually believe that anyone other than those of the ilk you return to after your subjective truth is espoused actually did anything except enjoy the tangential entertainment that you and I provide in these flights of fancy.

Regarding my assumptions about you, be real. It is so obvious who you are and what your axe to grind is, that if you were not somewhat still advancing the conversation with some vaguely valuable points about the need for people to situate their arguments properly, we wouldn't be having this conversation. But hey, sometimes the bitter must be taken with the sweet to advance the cause. When you are actually not attempting to advance some private agenda you actually reveal an intriguing intellect. Even now though, you provide a bit of comic relief to those of us who know who you are and where your anger,motivation stems from.

Oh, and I'm sorry it didn't work out for you. But if you silently move on, perhaps no one will dwell on it.. *** -- J.W.

The term “predator” is an appropriate description of individuals who prey and consume unsuspecting partners. In previous blogs, it has been reasoned the term “predator” is a word that has been framed to ‘induce conformity’. I partial agree with this statement but it warrants examination. To be a predator one must have a prey, and if you are a non-monogamous seeking other non-monogamous partners; the prey variable is removed from the equation. However, if you are a non-monogamous and you seek romantic relationships predominantly with monogamous partners you may very well be a predator. Expecting a person who is monogamous to conform to non-monogamy relationships because you were open about your lifestyle is crazy. Monogamy is based on the practice of having one mate which will always be conflict with non-monogamy. Monogamy is the equivalent to a religious belief, something that most people have been conditioned to as children.

Non-monogamous individuals can access the wide variety of people that they like. They can do so causally in the beginning stages of courtship (courtship: beginning the conversation that can potentially lead to a relationship). This act would not be considered predatory because during courtship there is no commitment agreement unless exclusively stated. After the beginning stages of courtship, the term predator comes into play. After courting someone, a relationship is then pursued and defined. How that relationship will be defined depends on who defines it. Monogamy and non-monogamy are critical elements when applied in a relationship. These elements cannot coexist within in a relationship. I cannot say if monogamy is better than non-monogamy. What is known is that non-monogamous individuals have the ability to move from a wide array of relationships whereas monogamous individuals cannot. This known fact often leaves the monogamous partner victimized and non-monogamous partners guilty.

J.W. First and foremost I want to say this is a great topic. I too cannot fathom the idea of why males in our society are referred to as a “predator”. I feel it is very offensive and uncalled for. Words are constantly being used as labels in our society. Even clothing, why is a sleeveless tank top shirt referred to as “Wife Beater”? The Encyclopedia defines predator as “One that victimizes, plunders, or destroys, especially for one's own gain”. Does that even come close to men or women having multiple sexual encounters, especially in college? I feel it doesn’t. It is taken way out of context. I disagree with La Verdad comment in which he states, “Some would find a problem there and some would not, but how about what’s the problem with forcing a woman’s head down to give oral sex to a man? Where’s the consent in that? That’s an assumption of consent, an exertion of power”. First, let me say that not every male forces a female head down or vice versa. I feel you may have taken the post to the extreme. Many times there is a respectable mutual agreement or even a spur of a moment sexual action. It is nothing violent or overly aggressive to the point where one person is feeling uncomfortable. If they are then by all means speak, that is why we have mouths. La Verdad my question for you is it wrong as well if men have their heads force down by women or even women forcing other women’s heads down? As mature adults we should all be able to voice what we want from another person in a mature manner. I feel a lot of times it is miscommunication or lack of maturity from one party. Many situations its people who lack knowledge of the situation that have so much to say. This is exactly how rumors start, the person becomes into this social slandered object. I do not feel people should be judge on the amount of people they decide to have sexual relations with. As Dan stated, that could be a way for people to experience different relationships to help decide on their future relationships. I feel once everything is put on the table and everyone is one the same page there should be no complications. But in our society nothing is ever that simple.

JW;

Just to clarify, I am not trying to cast aspersions on these young men with my skepticism regarding how forthcoming they are about their intentions. Rather, my experiences with human nature indicate that it is unlikely.

You say you have personal knowledge of them. Do you have personal knowledge of their behavior, or are you relying on their recounting of it? If the latter, I submit that humans have a very well developed tendency to portray themselves in a positive light, such that I would expect them to come across as angels in their descriptions of their behavior.

I know very few people who are so honest, especially in young people because as a group young people seem more sensitive to how they are perceived by their peers than those of us who are older. Unless these young men are remarkably unintelligent or unperceptive, they will know two things. First, that being a "player" in this way is still socially stigmatized, even if it shouldn't be. Second, that you will respect them for being open, and not condemn them for being a player.

Based on that, I would expect them to portray their behavior to you as completely open and aboveboard, and I would expect their actual behavior to be somewhat more ambiguous than that.

This does not excuse their accusers of the wrong they are doing by calling these men "predators" if their actions are as described, of course. Whether they are as open and clear as you seem to believe, or are less so as I suspect, is not really relevant to the larger issue. This was just an observation in passing I made.

I have to agree with some of the definitions of predator that were defined above, a predator is someone who stalks or rapes or molests as suppose to a player looking for booty on a Friday night. The terms men get to use like “player” give the connotation of being “the man” within their circle of friends but the woman who sleeps with him is viewed by many as a slut. It is interesting that a man actually has a negative term used for the fact that they are promiscuous and can for a minute cancel out the double standard. But it is still unfair. The bottom line is we are all human. We have emotions and desires and everyone knows that when we are still young our hormones are running a bit higher. But as College students we choose based on our own reasoning’s whether to be single, promiscuous, or falling in love, either way we are doing what were suppose to be doing; enjoying the time of lives. It is in our own venture that we make our mistakes and have our hearts broken and perhaps that’s why we create inappropriate and hurtful terms.

Being in my 20’s I have seen our young and unrealistic views of how we feel we can do whatever we want and expect everything instantly, especially a connection with someone else. In reality love takes much more and perhaps the reason we get hurt is because we rushed it and weren’t ready for it yet. But I believe our biggest problem with relationships at any age is our societal need to have labels. That’s her “boyfriend,’ they had a “one night stand,” he’s a “player,” while those two are “friends with benefits.” If we don’t fit into a certain classification then were outside the norm and begin creating terms that demean the other person like “fag,” “whore,” and now perhaps the most misleading because of the words history, “predator.”

When I think of the word predator a couple of things instantly come to mind. The first is that in order to be a predator you must have a victim. Also the word power comes to mind. A predator has power over its victim.

In order for the remarks made by the women to be true they would ultimately be the victims of the men they are referring to as predators. However, it appears that these women were both consenting adults and informed about the intentions of the men. They are single men that were not looking for a monogamous relationship or any sort of romantic commitment to one person do not appear to have done anything wrong. I am assuming their communication with the women was clear. If it was, then there is no evidence that the women were victims. As rational beings they were fully capable of determining the outcomes. This is not to say that the women didn’t have completely different intentions.

As far as power is concerned it seems to me that at least concerning sex the women were the ones with the power. After the men had laid the cards out on the table the women then chose their hands, thus giving them more power in the situation. It is possible that these women were driven by this initial power to control the situation even further. Had their intentions been to obtain a monogamous relationship with the men, and then calling them a predator may have been a push for it. When she calls him a predator she limits his social acceptance to be free to have the sexual freedom he desires. This also may set a false first impression for other women that will then judge the situation before it is evaluated.

It may be easy for women to agree with each other that these men are predators. Women have been socialized into thinking that men have more power and control. So, then these women may automatically assume the accusations are correct without analyzing the content for themselves. People are quick to jump to conclusions and even more so when they are conditioned to do so.

So, why then are women trying to force these social norms of dating? Possibly it is because when members of oppressed groups deviate from social norms they are considered outcasts or rebels. Many women are fighting for equality, but fear being shut down if they are too “radical” or appear to deviate too much for other people’s comfort zones. So it seems these women are playing to the social standards they have been instructed to follow, in fear of being pressed down by the same structures.

*** Kayla, if a man said what you just said, his words would not resonate with the depth that your thought is reverberating. Thanks for weighing in with a perspective that challenges other women to not conform by default, or buy into the hype of some women who have been duped into agendas that they haven't unpacked. *** -- J.W.

Hmmm...And to be a cougar...?

Often times I find myself sick with normalcy, thirsty for some sort of existence outside the boundaries of traditional, monogamous relationships. I go around ready to release my sexual endurance whereever it might be desired, and whereever I desire to focus it. However,sexual and romantic desire often ride in the backseat. Only when love or monogamy get in the car is it appropriate for sex and desire to ride up front. I think the college student getting called a "predator" is fundamentally parallel to a woman enjoying sex while single a "ho" or "whore." It is a label given to someone who fits into a stereotype that is used to convey disapproval of someones sexual activities. I think that people who use these words are generally incapable of grasping the reality that they could be living their life in a way that affords them more sexual pleasure than they have ever imagined. Rather than see the possibility of life and relationships outside of monogamy, they adhere to it's principles and fail to give themselves a chance to cross boundaries traditionally reserved for "players" and "hos." Why is such an enjoyable and visceral activity demonized to such an extent that it can occur between two consenting adults and still be called predatory behavior?? I think the "predator" label would generally be gender-based and is likely to be used in situations where a mans sexualty is being talked about. I think sex is both devalued, and overvalued. It is given so much credence in terms of being an activity that directly bears on ones morality that it becomes immoral if conducted outside of specific circumstances, presumably circumstances that are dictated by religion. It is sufficiently devalued to make it inappropriate anytime it occurs outside of the ideal relationship, of equal monogamy and equal power. In other words, it's very special, but it's also too special to "use" on just anyone. Once an individual begins to display that they don't take sex seriously enough, they are subject criticism by being labeled "ho" and "predators." Perhaps our criticism of one who enjoys sex with different partners stems from societies general inability to embrace others. Not simply in the sense that society can't fit this individual into its mold, but in the sense that our devaluation of sex in unmonogamous situations is the result of societies general inability to see others as worthy of our sexaul efforts and attention unless they are no longer other by virtue of being "our," a connotation saved for the ones we get monogamous with. You could argue that the possesive nature of many monogamous relationships involve much more dangerous predatory behavior than the situation where a power difference is real but yet consenting adults get their swerve on. The only thing worse than a hater is another hater....the only thing better than....is new ....

I'm a little late, but this post is interesting so I'm going to chime in anyway. My thought is somewhat similar to what Whaler said, but with an important distinction. Honesty can be a tool for manipulation. A SCENARIO: A young man and a young woman enter into a casual relationship. Man is "honest" early on and says he doesn't want anything serious. Woman says that is fine with her. Man senses (or knew before he said it) that this is not actually the case (she would prefer a relationship), but continues all the same. Casual relationship continues and woman hopes it will blossom into something more. It does not. Man moves on. Woman is hurt. Man thinks, "Well I was honest from the beginning", although both parties are aware of what really happened. Perhaps claiming he is a predator casts the female as powerless, but the point is that honesty and openness are not inherently trustworthy and can be exploited. The man has used honesty to free himself of responsibility, though he knew the consequences of his actions. Can we not trace the origin of the "predator" mindset (in males and females) straight back to its evolutionary roots; the male's drive to mate with as many females as possible and the female's desire to find the best mate? I realize this can be a particularly loathsome argument, but it feels right for this one.

Truthfully, I've always meant to follow this blog, but I never did because, well, I just never thought about it too much. So please understand why the comment is almost a year late. Here is a simple truth – actually no. This should be a simple truth, but I suppose it’s too complicated for many people out there. No means no. Right? Right. This is not limited to sex. Come up to me – a female in my early twenties – in a bar and try a line. Politely I smile (awkwardly) and return to my conversation/drink/whatever-important-or-inane-thing-I-chose-to-do. That means “no.” But you start again. Another line? Touch my shoulder? Offer a drink? No, man, I’m good, thanks. Yet, you continue. Sometimes you eventually get the hint. Other times I have to leave the place I was previously perfectly comfortable being (sacrifice for your ego?). Then sometimes you don’t stop. You talk or touch more. I don’t care if he – yes, HE – is 19, 24, 34, 89. Why does he get the right to make me feel uncomfortable, even scared?
Okay, first, I’ll explain the gender emphasis. We live in a society that has raised young females (and older, too, really) to fear men. We all know the examples, so I’ll spare you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure a lady can be just as creepy and awkward as a guy. But generally speaking, men don’t fear aggressive women, at least not in the same way women fear men. And to be completely honest I can’t say anything in terms of women towards women or men towards men. You also have to understand, this “flirtation” is typically aimed at our sexuality. I have yet to have real desire to sleep with another woman, so, I don’t feel another woman could make me feel uncomfortable with my sexuality. And we’re discussing the word “predator” here, so, as far as I’m concerned, we’re discussing fear.
Promiscuity is a personal choice. If someone wants to get around, whatever. If I want to, even, who cares? Not your deal. Now obviously to “hook up” with someone conversation, flirtation, and the like have to occur. But many people don’t understand borders. At this point in my life, at 24, I don’t like walking around downtown by myself. I mean, I’m not really all that concerned about being raped, that’s not what I’m getting at. I simply don’t want weird, annoying, unattractive, pointless comments thrown at me. I don’t want to hear, “Hey, Baby! What’s your name?” or “What you doing tonight?” or “Gotta man?” or (that’s right boys, girls don’t like hearing this!) “Nice rack!” Observe the inefficiency. What has been accomplished? I’m not gonna sleep with you buddy and I’ll put you down in front of your bros. Now, Mr. J.W., if you do read this almost a year after the fact, can you please tell me why I or any other female has to deal with this?
WHY DO WE HAVE TO BE THE PREY?
And yeah, I get it. Chicks (I’ve been trying to euphemize lots of my language, but, I’m giving up) hit on dudes. But, fellows, how often do you feel threatened?
This is the absolute mistake in your blog: predatory behavior does NOT equal promiscuity. This next sentence is really going to sound demeaning to my gender but, well, a vulture is not a predator. A vulture is a scavenger. Any guy my peers, and you are talking about my peers here, would refer to as a “predator” would be someone thought to be manipulative, exploitive and/or threatening. If your young friend here wants some action but will give the girl space if she needs it, if he’s non-violent and kind of just cares about her well-being (even if not in the form of a monogamous relationship) but also wants that from other girls too, he’s not a predator. He’s a guy that likes consensual, casual sex. But if he considers women nothing more than toys for his own benefit, if he stalks, if he degrades, and so on and on, then I’m sorry, sir. He’s a predator.

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