All of clarissethorn's Comments + Replies

Influence = Manipulation

It's been a long time since I logged into LW; I just saw this. Actually, I released a book this year in which I analyze manipulation fairly extensively through the lens of the pickup artist subculture. It's called Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser:

0RobertLumley9y/Adds blog to bookmarks
Influence = Manipulation

It seems to me that once we get away from obviously problematic situations (such as blackmail), the distinction is going to be in intent, which is never uncontroversial.

1Barry_Cotter10yAgreed. But is there any point beyond expressing opprobrium in having two words if you're not really talking about anything except your own feelings? What I'm really asking is whether a behaviourist along the lines of B.F. Skinner would have been able to distinguish the two concepts. If not, it goes in the "may need to phrase this differently depending on audience but no actual difference in facts or anticipations" category.
[LINK] Ethical Pick-Up Artistry (Clarisse Thorn)

He has this post about the "dark side of game":

This post from him really flipped me out:

because of this quotation: "yes we still had sex on Friday night (she squirted), Saturday night (she cried), Sunday morning (she tolerated it) and Sunday night looks good too (she's gonna go for the handjob option when I offer it). "

which, uh, doesn't sound like his wife is all that into the sex. On the other h... (read more)

2HughRistik10yBelieve it or not, it was ;)
[LINK] Ethical Pick-Up Artistry (Clarisse Thorn)

I know! I heart my commenters! Many of them are sooo amazing.

The peril of ignoring emotions

I've been working on figuring out how exactly I establish intimacy through conversation, and getting better at it. One thing HughRistik once observed is that "expressing interest in their reality" is absolutely key, but that's pretty basic.

[LINK] Ethical Pick-Up Artistry (Clarisse Thorn)

I am tickled to be referenced as "Clarisse Thorn herself". Since that conversation, though, I have to say that I've thought about Kristen's Feministe comment a lot, and I think I understand it better now (though I'm still not sure I agree).

(1) shows a guy who is trying to exert dominance by telling her what to do. "You have lovely eyes, they'd be remarkable if you wore makeup" includes a proposed "solution" to the "problem" he's outlining. (3), on the other hand, is just mockery. "That guy will rot your brain" doesn't tell her what to do.

I see the distinction now, but I'm not convinced that the speakers did, nor am I convinced that most hearers would.

The peril of ignoring emotions

My problem with this model is that sexuality is extremely important to me and a guy pretty much has to prove that he's sexually interesting in order to be worth my time. This is difficult to accurately gauge through conversation -- even men who are in my sexual subcultures/etc can be less-than-ideal sexual matches. It might be good for me to follow a more strategic drawn-out pattern than sex on the first date, but that would require me to spend a lot of time on men who may not end up being sexually awesome (and also it removes the pleasure of having sex ... (read more)

1wedrifid10yThat does sound more effective at the task of forming a sexually satisfying relationship. Sally loses out a lot because she made her strategy about maximising her chances at having a relationship with Bob. Until you actually have a personal connection, let's face it, potential attractive mates are basically fungible. There are plenty out there and there and there is no need to get all hung up about catching a specific target in particular. Is there any particular tactic that works for landing the hook? (Well, apart from those tactics and techniques that add up to being so amazingly good in bed that no guy could help but come back for more!) The most obvious is extending the potential duration of the dates (to 7 or so hours if desired) and including multiple venue changes. The subjective experience of time is far more important than time itself.
5HughRistik10yI also think the model of delaying sex is overrated; I just wanted to describe how to do it, for someone who wants to do things that way. People vary in sociosexuality [], so some people perhaps do need to delay sex due to the way that they are wired. Yet I think the "wait for sex" cultural discourse may often go beyond people's emotional needs, and encourage even more delay of sex, even for people who would otherwise want to. This discourse contains certain toxic notions, such as slut-shaming (e.g. women being devalued for being "easy"), and "why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free" (because the cow has more to offer than just "one thing," duh). A strategy of having sex within the first few dates, while also trying to get to know the person and connect with them, is probably most efficient, if you can comfortably have sex with that person during that timeframe while being willing to risk that a long-term relationship might not work. As you note, sex is an important screening tool. It also can be useful for getting the sex out of the way. Then whoever is expected to initiate it (usually the guy) doesn't have the mental overhead of wondering if/when it will happen, and if any of his behaviors are making it more/less likely. Sometimes, a guy will be acting differently after sex than before, and the only want to find out is to have sex with him. Also, having sex means that no mental resources are spent delaying sex, and that date venues aren't so restricted (for instance, my previous comment would advise against watching a DVD alone with someone you are dating if you want to delay sex, because that practice is often used to advance sex). Once people stop doing a complex and cognitively-costly dance around delaying sex, then it's a lot easier for them to focus on each other.
A Rationalist's Account of Objectification?

I recommend the movie "Filming Desire" for what I found to be a very interesting and nuanced feminist analysis of objectification, and what happens when women try to represent sex for ourselves rather than buying into how the dominant culture represents sex (i.e., how men with stereotypical desires represent sex).

Here is an edited version of a comment I recently wrote on my own post "Ethical Pick-Up Artistry" [ ], which I think is tangentially relevant:

I don’t really lik... (read more)

-1[anonymous]6yedit: goddam formatting doesn't work with complex posts. PM me if you're interested in reading this in full... For those who don't know, the above user is a rising star in feminist, men's rights, and that kind of circles. Or well, I've heard of him/her, and was surpised to see the name. So I'm stopping to comment. I'd like to address some claims made about sexual fluidity that I find concerning. * Conversion therapy is stigmatised by scientific communities [] * Conversion therapy is primarily conducted by secular partners of religious organisations that were formed in protest of allegations of non-scientific approaches to LGBT psychiatry [] Some individuals sexual identitites are indeed fluid, as conceeded by psychiatric authorities, however, it the common misconception is that they aren't [] * However, defining sexualities as fluid is not neccersarily useful. There are well articulated (albeit unconvincing) teleological arguments suggesting that fluidity is essential to transition to homosexuality: * sexual fluidity is sensational [] * sexual identity [] as distinct from sexual orientation is treated as a seperate concept within the academic domains of sexual discourse * There are compelling arguments for activists to legitimise bisexuality: * the concept of situational sexuality [] complicates things. How can one distinguish between an enduring aspect of their identity and a situational characteristic? * sexual fluidity may be underreported due to hate crimes []
2MugaSofer9yOr that power was balanced previously, and this balance is now being upset. Even then, it only so implies because you referred to them as a misogynist who, therefore, must be criticizing feminism; on it's own, it's value-neutral or even positive (if you assume unattractive women didn't have enough power before.)
8Strange710yThe statement could be more charitably interpreted as meaning that feminism is about bringing the majority of women (who are not exceptionally attractive, by logical necessity from the definition of 'exceptional') up to the same level as the majority of men, with the caveat that exceptionally attractive people have no shortage of power in society regardless of their gender. That is, giving women inroads to power which depend primarily on hard work rather than a genetic lottery.
Less Wrong NYC: Case Study of a Successful Rationalist Chapter

No, I didn't comment on the post I'm thinking of. It was overwhelmingly sexist (in comments people made jokes about women being gold-diggers, for example), but it didn't have to do with BDSM.

I've gotten better at "sounding rationalist" since I commented on that "is masochism necessary" post, and I've also gotten better at not getting angry. I look back at how I wrote my comment there and I'm a little surprised at myself.

Less Wrong NYC: Case Study of a Successful Rationalist Chapter

As I said, I spent a while trying to find it, but I couldn't. I really wish I could find it, because it was a stellar example. After I failed to find it I thought that maybe it was actually a post at OvercomingBias (don't even get me started on Robin Hanson), but I couldn't find it when looking for that either. I think I must have deleted the email in a fit of rage.

6Eliezer Yudkowsky10yMy own vague recollection of this event says it was a Hanson post on the original OB.
3steven046110yOh, oops, I didn't even notice that last line, or didn't notice it was talking about the same thing. Sorry.
Less Wrong NYC: Case Study of a Successful Rationalist Chapter

I agree -- different resources are necessary for different questions. I personally tend to read sociology papers whenever I can get my grubby little paws on them. Note that I have a feminist bent, so I tend to look for feminist-leaning resources. For example, I recently read this fascinating study:

Less Wrong NYC: Case Study of a Successful Rationalist Chapter

I have a big crush on HughRistik. It is important to note that he is not an accurate representation of PUAs. He is considerably more concerned with ethics, more friendly to feminism, more willing to acknowledge systemic problems in the PUA subculture, and smarter than the vast majority of PUAs. Quotation from one of his writings:

"There are a lot of problems with the seduction community that feminists correctly observe, including misogyny, cynicism towards relationships, and a few tactics that are bad for consent." from: http://feministcritics.... (read more)

Less Wrong NYC: Case Study of a Successful Rationalist Chapter

The first LW post I was ever directed to was so bad (and the comments were waaaay worse) that I didn't comment, decided never to look at this site again, and had to be convinced by the steady campaigning of a friend.

Of course, feminism (and sexuality) is my pet issue. Note the quote from Alicorn in the "sayeth the girl" post that rhollerith posted: "I would almost certainly have vacated the site already if feminism were my pet issue, or if I were more easily offended."

Maybe this is more evidence that I'm particularly hard to offend? Not sure.

I spent a while trying to find the first post I was ever directed to, but I couldn't -- sorry.


I found your blog, and I liked it, and it occurred to me that the mode of thinking and expression that's common in feminist (or kinky, or gender-conscious) circles isn't unrelated to the LessWrong mode. They're different languages, but they're similar in being explicit about social dynamics that are normally implicit, and encouraging people to self-modify their minds and second-guess their own thoughts in a way that provokes a knee-jerk "but that's unnatural!" reaction in "normal" people. So maybe this is a good blog for feminists.

2Nick_Tarleton10yWas this [] the post?
2steven046110yDo you remember what post that was?
Less Wrong NYC: Case Study of a Successful Rationalist Chapter

Of course, it depends more on the individuals involved than anything else, but I would say that a non-negligible percentage of rationalists are unwilling to question gender biases (and in fact, many get defensive because they prefer to consider themselves rational and non-sexist, and then in their defensiveness, fail to examine their biases). This is common enough that the geek feminist blog Restructure has a whole post called The Myth Of White Male Geek Rationality:

Less Wrong NYC: Case Study of a Successful Rationalist Chapter

Yes -- and I find that the "Women hate the dark arts because they can't deal with reality" trope is a very common one (perhaps less common on LW, but common in general). It may be that the OP didn't intend to imply that, but it may also not be an unreasonable implication to draw given the frequency the argument is made.

Unknown knowns: Why did you choose to be monogamous?

Another thought -- along the lines of my first paragraph, one common term that's used to insult sex-positive feminists (by feminists who don't identify as sex-positive) is "fun feminists". The idea being that we wouldn't hold our position if it weren't "fun", or that we've been distracted from the "important" stuff by the "fun" stuff, or that we get undeserved attention for being more "fun". This obviously makes some of us feel like we have to prove that we're not that fun :P

0[anonymous]11yWhat Eliezer said. Disregard the no-fun feminists.

I'd just call 'em "dull feminists" and get on with my life.

Unknown knowns: Why did you choose to be monogamous?

Hey Eliezer,

Interesting point. I think part of the problem is that sex theorists have to work very hard to get ourselves taken seriously, so many of us overcompensate. Another problem is that while sex is totally fun, sex also comes with an enormous potential to harm, so it's important to take it seriously at least somewhat.

Also, sex is a highly-triggering area for most people. I specifically try to include some humor and/or sexy anecdotes in my writing, but I find that I am considerably likely to be misinterpreted when I do so, and when I'm misinterpre... (read more)

3Swimmer96310yI want to read that novella. It sounds educational.

One of the projects I'm outlining right now is a BDSM erotica novella in which I try to include as much theory as I possibly can while still keeping it sexy.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Sexuality?

8clarissethorn11yAnother thought -- along the lines of my first paragraph, one common term that's used to insult sex-positive feminists (by feminists who don't identify as sex-positive) is "fun feminists". The idea being that we wouldn't hold our position if it weren't "fun", or that we've been distracted from the "important" stuff by the "fun" stuff, or that we get undeserved attention for being more "fun". This obviously makes some of us feel like we have to prove that we're not that fun :P
Less Wrong NYC: Case Study of a Successful Rationalist Chapter

I'm a little surprised to see the issues of LWers interacting with women reduced to "being careful when discussing explicit awareness of social reality" ... with a link to PUA stuff.

1) PUA stuff is hardly the only example out there of "explicit awareness of social reality".

2) It's quite telling that the implication of the post is that "women don't like explicit awareness of social reality", rather than the (more accurate) "women don't like PUA".

One way to encourage women to participate in rationalist communities migh... (read more)

Nitpick: It had "PUA" in the title, but the formerly-linked article was not about seduction/gender in any way.

I will not make this particular mistake again (is there a term for "Boo Lights"?), but I still think the idea of explicitly practicing high-value social skills in a group is a good one.

7Cosmos11yI agree that associating with PUA is distasteful and an immediate fail, and have removed the link from the post. The link is here: [] Social phenomena exist like anything else and can be analyzed, but how it is discussed matters almost entirely. It is a high-status behavior to make observations about social phenomena, but analysis sends a bad signal.
3CuSithBell11yI had the same reaction. The link seems... snide. Probably wasn't meant that way, but I'm not sure how it was meant.
8[anonymous]11yFor what it's worth, there were no gender wars to my knowledge while I've been a member in the group. Some guys who went to PUA classes, but more in the context of "normal person who wants better luck with women."
8rabidchicken11yAre rationalists more likely than average men to treat women like silly, fickle, manipulative gold diggers? As far as I can tell, trying to be rational has only given me more reasons to treat women and humans in general better. Tangentially, I try to avoid treating women differently since the cultural assumptions about how each gender thinks are rarely accurate, and appreciate it when women do the same thing.

I actually had not noticed that LWers alienated women in any way. And yes, I am female. And maybe not very observant.

5khafra11yI'm interested in other frameworks for approaching social interactions in a experimentally-verified manner, but the closest thing I can think of is Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. Could you list some, with links to information?

PUA stuff targets the middle of the bell curve. Of course it looks silly to intelligent people.

Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others...

Good point re: religious dogma. I think there are studies showing that religious/conservative folks are much better at volunteering and donating to charity than liberal/secular folks. It's too bad.

Re: lawyer/secretary, well, the longer I focus my time on activism the more likely it becomes that if I were more "gainfully employed" I'd be a secretary ... :P

Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others...

Yeah, it looks like it. Funny, I was sure he lived in Long Island, but I don't remember why. Chalk another one up to memory being fallible even when I was "very sure" about the details.

Here's a New Yorker piece:'skidney.pdf

Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others...

The second point is something that really gets me. It seems to me that rather than feeling bad about donating to one charity rather than a more efficient or more "important" other charity, we should feel bad about spending money on frivolities rather than donating to charity. Nonprofit organizations are forced to compete against each other for slender resources in many ways, including donor dollars -- why can't they compete against things that have less moral value instead? It would be awesome if there were more social pressure to donate to ch... (read more)

-4milindsmart7yA vote for the statement that : sex-positive activism is (unarguably) an extremely "low priority" type of activism. It might be better if you can find ways to change what you feel happy about. Just my 2p.

I (for one) have tried dedicating all my time to doing activism that seemed "more important" (HIV in Africa) rather than the activism that is most interesting to me (various types of sexuality stuff in America), and I was both less happy and less effective

There's a story I like to tell when I hear this. Louise and Claire are both concerned about global warming. Louise is full of passion for the subject and does what moves her most; through her hard work persuades a thousand people to unplug their phone chargers at night. Claire can't get wo... (read more)

0DanielLC11yHe donated his kidney? They sell in Iran for $3,000 to $5,000. I don't know when he donated it. It could be before that was legal. Edit: I accidentally wrote "Iraq" instead of "Iran".
6alexanderis11yI think the guy you're thinking of is Zell Kravinsky [].
8Vaniver11yThis is standard religious dogma. Secular activists rarely have the gumption to make it part of their pitches. When you take seriously something other people are hypocritical about, it makes them edgy. Not for me. Keep up the good work :D Comparative advantage. Compare you being an activist and your donors working (which includes you working a low-value job to donate to yourself) and you working and donating to the marginal activist. Which scenario is superior? The standard lawyer/secretary example comes to mind- even if the lawyer types much faster, they're better off having their secretary type for them. As an activist, are you a lawyer or a secretary? If gainfully employed, would you be a lawyer or a secretary?
Defecting by Accident - A Flaw Common to Analytical People

I generally like this essay on this topic:

If you read the comments, however, please note that the original essay contained a lot of language that was pretty aggressive and insulting to feminists and sex/gender writers. Some writers (including myself) called out that language in the comments. The essay was then edited multiple times, but no notes were left that it had been edited. This was a great way to make commenters who had complained about the original essay (such as myself) look like crazy bitches, which doesn't seem like a very charitable debating tactic to me. ;)

Otherwise, though, yeah, it's a good essay.

0Relsqui11yUpvoted on spec; I tabbed out the essay to read later. (Commenting mostly as a reminder to myself.) ETA: Okay, yes, upvote stands, that was good.
Burning Man Meetup: Bayes Camp

Sweet. I'll try to remember to stop by.

Unknown knowns: Why did you choose to be monogamous?

Women are much less likely to be capable of achieving orgasm through penetrative sex than men, so the ban on penetrative sex for her may be less asymmetrical than you seem to think. After all, if she can easily achieve orgasm by several methods other than penetrative sex, but he prefers penetrative sex over other methods, then while there may be some jealousy active in the penetrative sex prohibition, it may also not be that much of a "sacrifice" for her.

It is also entirely possible that she feels more jealous when she knows her husband's partne... (read more)

1Nisan11yIt is my hope that WrongBot's next post will explore the varied facets of romantic jealousy.
Unknown knowns: Why did you choose to be monogamous?

EDIT: OH my God, I forgot the special LW markup, ARGH. Comment has been edited.

I have an enormous amount of experience with the polyamory community and with observing polyamorous relationships, but I was convinced that I myself had a "monogamy orientation" until recently, when I became less sure. Regardless of whether or not a person is "oriented" towards monogamy or polyamory, however, I think it's useful for both monogamous and polyamorous people to discuss relationships in the kind of depth that is common in the poly community; in ... (read more)

Just read through these links, and I have to say that the concept of "fun" leapt out at me as being largely missing.

I suspect there's a major problem where a lot of the people who spend the most time writing about polyamory or BDSM or, hell, sexuality in general, are people who literally have nothing more important in their identities. They're trying way too hard to sound adult and serious. You want to scream at them to just lighten up.

I'm starting to get that dreadful "I could do better than that" feeling which makes me do things like write Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality or explain Bayes's Theorem...

7Nisan11yThe relationship contract is very interesting. It's good to have a concrete, realistic example of the ideas of polyamory put into practice. Both parties have various veto powers. I imagine neither party has to explicitly use their veto power very often. As in politics, the possibility of a veto exists to ensure that both parties will always take the other's desires into account. There are two asymmetrical articles in that contract, and I was surprised to find that both of them are restrictions on what the woman can do. The first requires that her male secondary partners court her husband, and it's explicitly stated that this is to allay his jealously. The second prohibits the wife from having penetrative sex with anyone besides her husband, and the explanation offered for this article doesn't really explain why there isn't a similar prohibition on the husband. I wonder if the real reason is the husband's jealousy again. In any case, it seems the man in this relationship is more prone to jealousy than the woman. I don't know evolutionary psychology yet, but it's a little astonishing to me how this asymmetry, particularly the emphasis on penetrative sex, seems to be precisely what the ev-psych stories told elsewhere in this thread tell us to expect.
Diseased thinking: dissolving questions about disease

Also: I recently saw a list of diseases ranked by doctors from most to least stigmatized; the list was accompanied by analysis that claimed that more respected doctors work on less stigmatized illnesses. I saw it on the Internet but alas, I can't find it now. I did find this, though:

Attention Lurkers: Please say hi

Well, it just doesn't post. I'm not really sure what goes wrong ... sorry.

Diseased thinking: dissolving questions about disease

This is a really interesting post and I will most likely respond on my own blog sometime. In the meantime, I haven't read the whole comment thread, but I don't think this article has been linked yet (I did search for the title):

It's called "The Americanization of Mental Illness". Definitely worth a read; in particular, here is an excellent quotation:

It turns out that those who adopted biomedical/genetic beliefs about mental disorders were the same people who wanted less c... (read more)

0clarissethorn11yAlso: I recently saw a list of diseases ranked by doctors from most to least stigmatized; the list was accompanied by analysis that claimed that more respected doctors work on less stigmatized illnesses. I saw it on the Internet but alas, I can't find it now. I did find this, though: []
Attention Lurkers: Please say hi

I'm not a technician -- so I'm not sure. But I have noticed that I pretty much always seem to be able to leave comments on Wordpress blogs, for example, whereas I frequently have trouble here and sometimes at Blogspot as well. It helps not to require a login, but Wordpress seems to function okay for me even when it's logging me in.

4NancyLebovitz11ySo the problem is something about getting to post at all, not the design? I've noticed something mildly glitchy-- a grey warning screen comes up sometimes when I refresh the screen, but if I hit "cancel" and refresh again, it's fine. It's trivial on high bandwidth, but would be a pain on low bandwidth. Can you detail exactly what goes wrong when it's hard for you to post?
Attention Lurkers: Please say hi

Thank you, I'm aware of that. But that still requires a person to be a pretty obsessive user of this site. Unless I have a lot of free time (like today), there's no way I can go back and check every single site where I've left comments and see how my comments are doing. At least LW aggregates reply comments to my input, but that doesn't solve the bigger problem of me having to come back to LW in the first place.

It's also worth noting that this comment interface is difficult to use in many places with slow/bad connections, like, you know, the entirety of... (read more)

2NancyLebovitz11yWhat does it take for a site to have a good low bandwidth comment interface?
Attention Lurkers: Please say hi

(I'm sorry if this comment gets posted multiple times. My African internet connection really sucks.)

Hi. 25 years old, HIV/AIDS worker in Africa, pro-BDSM sex activist in Chicago. Blog at

I very rarely comment because comments here are expected to be very well-thought-out. Stating something quick, on the basis of instinct, or without stating it in perfectly precise language seems to me to be dangerous.

Another reason this site has a higher percentage of lurkers is, obviously, because of the account requirement. There's anothe... (read more)

1NancyLebovitz11yWelcome. You can find follow-ups to your comments by clicking on the red envelope under your karma score. I found out about that by asking-- it isn't what I'd call an intuitive interface.
Welcome to Less Wrong!

I looked around for an FAQ link and didn't see one, and I've gone through all my preferences and haven't found anything relevant. Is there any way to arrange for followup comments (I suppose, the contents of my account inbox) to be emailed to me?

5Eliezer Yudkowsky12yNot that I know of, I'm afraid. There are lots of requested features that we would implement if we had the programmatic resources, but alas, we don't. One just has to check if the envelope is red once in a while.
Welcome to Less Wrong!

That's fair. And I'll add that for a site populated mainly by entitled white guys (I kid, I kid), this site does much better at being generally feminist than most within that demographic.

PS It's kind of exciting to be talking to you, EY. Your article on heuristics and biases in the context of extinction events is one of my favorites ever. I probably think about it once a week.

Undiscriminating Skepticism

I'd definitely take all three of the above pills. In fact, I wonder how much harm such pills would have to do for me not to take them.

Undiscriminating Skepticism

Ah, Spider Robinson. I remember buying a stack of his books at Borders around age 12 and having the clerk give my mother an alarmed look. Mom just waved her hand ....

I think it's pretty normal for science-fiction-reading middle- to upper-middle-class kids to think that alternative sexuality is "normal" and to feel guilty for being vanilla/monogamous/whatever. (I used to feel a lot of pressure to be polyamorous.) Interestingly, though, there still seems to be a lot of internalized stigma about certain forms of sexuality, as demonstrated for ex... (read more)

7Multiheaded10yI'm adamant that none of us should use the messed-up word "Rape" to point to a benevolent social practice of a made-up libertarian utopia, where that term and its implications are not just forgotten but can hardly be understood. Something like "meta-consensual sex" would be way better. This alone would've allowed us to avoid half the controversy about this relatively minor point.
3Eliezer Yudkowsky12yI call that a win for literature.
Undiscriminating Skepticism

Hi Doug! Yes, I remember you. I've actually read a number of posts here, and I've commented once here before, but I was too angry and irrational and in feminist-community mode during that little fracas, so I decided to give myself lots of time to cool off before posting again. (Note that the original post has been edited to the point where it is no longer clear what pissed me off.) (I also discussed some of the cultural differences between this site and the feminist blogosphere that contributed to that blowup in the comments here.)

Is masochism necessary?

Yeah, seriously ... I only just came back to this, and I'm rather surprised that a community like LessWrong will countenance editing posts without noting the edits.

2Morendil12yIt's generally frowned upon.
Welcome to Less Wrong!

I go by Clarisse and I'm a feminist, sex-positive educator who has delivered workshops on both sexual communication and BDSM to a variety of audiences, including New York’s Museum of Sex, San Francisco’s Center for Sex and Culture, and several Chicago universities. I created and curated the original Sex+++ sex-positive documentary film series at Chicago’s Jane Addams Hull-House Museum; I have also volunteered as an archivist, curator and fundraiser for that venerable BDSM institution, the Leather Archives & Museum. Currently, I'm working on HIV mitigat... (read more)

3Eliezer Yudkowsky12y?? Not any of mine, I hope. EDIT: I see, Phil Goetz on masochism. Well, I downvoted it. Not much else to say, aside from noting that it had net 4 points and that karma rules do make it easier to upvote than downvote. This is a community blog and I think it's pretty fair to say that what has not been voted high or promoted ought not to be blamed on "Less Wrong".
Undiscriminating Skepticism

Sorry if this is overly tangential, but as a sex educator I'm interested to know what you all think are your tribal beliefs around sexuality, and what kind of sexuality-related arguments would lead you to consider someone to be defending a non-mainstream belief.

Someone who believes that homosexuality is not immoral, but believes it is a dysfunction.

Actually I have more answers, but this question is just too toxic. So I'll go meta: Anyone who responds to this question either by saying that rationality is indicated either by signalling acceptance of more-outlandish sexuality, or by signalling intolerance, is indicating their own irrationality; they are turning this question into a tribal test.

9rwallace12yAlmost every tribe tacitly accepts the assumption that it is healthy and appropriate to have a passionate interest in the sex lives of complete strangers. Disagreement with that assumption would lead me to consider someone to be defending a non-mainstream belief.

Emotionally, I feel I have two tribes: the meatspace upper-middle-class collegiate culture and my Internet circle of acquaintances.

In the meatspace tribe, vanilla heterosexuality or homosexuality are considered normal and unremarkable, things like 2 girls 1 cup, goatse, etc. are considered disgusting/gross-out material - and I cannot remember anyone acknowledging anything else.

In the Internet tribe, sexual relations of any kind between consenting adults are considered fine provided that they are carried out in private, sexual intercourse between teenage mi... (read more)

6Morendil12yCultural norm for me is "sexuality is a matter of choice between consenting adults". Non-mainstream beliefs around sexuality that I'm currently curious about include PUA lore, and this interesting site [].

Hi Clarisse, and Welcome to LessWrong! I've seen your blog, and I'm happy to see you commenting here. (I comment as "Doug S." on various feminism-related blogs - I'm not very prolific, but you may have seen a couple here and there.)

4steven046112yopen thread []

Heh. My tribal beliefs are from reading Spider Robinson books as a teen. Ciphergoth is an example of the sort of person I grew up thinking of as normal, and I've always felt a little guilty about not being bisexual. You have to get up pretty early in the morning to go outside that mainstream, which is one reason I went to the lengths of postulating legalized rape in Three Worlds Collide.

Is masochism necessary?

Presentation is endorsement, unless it's framed with disclaimers.

Let's return to the LGBTQ example. Consider the following potential sentences:

"Many people think of homosexuality as a sexual perversion. But there are ordinary, socially-accepted behaviors that seem partly homoerotic to me:"

Would you call that a neutral statement? Would you claim so passionately that it revealed no bias on the part of the person who said it?

0PhilGoetz12yI want to get across the point that, if it's true that sexual masochism and other behaviors have some underlying pleasure mechanism in common, then it's remarkable that people demonize sexual masochism yet have no guilt about riding rollercoasters. I can't do that without saying something like "Many people think masochism is evil." There's no way to get my idea across without using negative terms. (The thought just occurred to me as I wrote this: Maybe the puritans (the stereotypical puritans, as opposed to the real ones, whom I am less familiar with) were just being consistent! Seeing sexual pleasure as immoral should lead to seeing dancing, card-playing, and many other things as immoral.) If I had just written "There are ordinary, socially-accepted behaviors that seem partly masochistic to me", that would be less neutral, as it would imply that I myself believed masochism was wrong. I changed it. I think it's weaker and less interesting this way, but it's not in my advantage to repell people who have the expertise necessary for this conversation.
0GuySrinivasan12ySome are Against Disclaimers: []
1loqi12yMany people thought Hitler was a great leader. Yes.
1AllanCrossman12yI think you intended it to look like some sort of anti-gay rhetoric (didn't you?) so it's odd that it could be read as a pro-homosexual statement, i.e.: "Many think homosexuality is a sexual perversion, but as I shall show, homoeroticism is perfectly ordinary and socially accepted in many arenas." It's odd that nobody has defended Phil with the observation that the description of masochism as a possible sexual perversion was immediately followed by the word "but". Update: This post no longer makes sense because the top-level post has been edited. :)
2JulianMorrison12yI don't think it reveals bias, so much as a lack of diplomacy.
Is masochism necessary?

It is a judgmental viewpoint. Maybe he didn't mean it that way, but that doesn't mean it's not a judgmental viewpoint.

Is masochism necessary?

I made no moral accusations and I threatened no social rejection. I pointed out your bias. I did it with strong words; maybe I should apologize for that; I'm an orator, I don't usually run in specifically "rationalist" circles, and I'm used to a different kind of conversation.

In terms of discouraging discussion, here's what I think discourages discussion:

1) Any request for ideas that implies that people who have some experience with the matter at hand are "perverts" -- this insults and scares off people who could contribute to your di... (read more)

0PhilGoetz12yI didn't mean to imply that. I meant to say it clearly and unambiguously. It's the same to me. How would you engage in discussion with someone who hates BDSM, if you don't want them to say anything negative about it? And, yes, as long as you keep accusing me of bias, I'm not in the mood to talk about the actual content with you. I care more about defending my reputation than I do about the philosophy and psychology of masochism. Notice that we're not talking about content? That your participation is now impeding the conversation instead of facilitating it? The conversation should not be about my bias. People's opinion of my bias is important to me, so it's rational for me to spend all my time in this thread defending myself instead of addressing the issues I originally wanted to address. It isn't very important to anyone else, so I don't understand why you want to keep at it. I suppose because you feel like I am accusing you of a moral lapse. The way for you to defend yourself against the charge of having made a gratuitous accusation of bias is to show that I'm biased; then the way for me to defend myself is to show that you made a gratuitous accusation. Can we just call a truce?
3JulianMorrison12yI think people here are used to being more "clinically detached" than you're used to. It's a bit of a clash of styles. You see PG above as judgmental, but I read him as trying to suggest a way of talking that would gain you better results.
Is masochism necessary?

Yes. Exactly. This comment says everything I would have said, and probably more eloquently.

Is masochism necessary?

:::::::::: You don't know this site very well. We would discuss those questions if they seemed relevant. ::::::::::


I just think it's important for people who have these conversations to consider the point that "what's relevant" or "what's worthy of examination" is often, itself, socially constructed.

:::::::::: Can you see how this might reasonably connect to masochism in particular, and not sexuality in general? ::::::::::

Yes. But my concern is not masochism in general. I am responding to the ways in which sexual masochism has be... (read more)

-1loqi12yPoint taken. In this case, I thought the relevance was pretty clearly motivated by earlier discussion. It was "framed" by one pretty neutral statement, making the true observation that many people consider it a "sexual perversion". I object to your taking a statement like that as a cue to come "educate" the speaker on how judgmental he's being. He quite simply did not present a judgmental viewpoint. He made reference to a judgmental viewpoint. You're the one inferring some kind of endorsement from it.
3JulianMorrison12yBy the way, if you want to quote stuff, you can do it with a > at the beginning of the line.
Is masochism necessary?

:::::::::: Many people do think of BDSM as a sexual perversion. I didn't invent this reality; I just live here. ::::::::::

This answer strikes me as a bit facile. Sure, lots of people think of BDSM as a sexual perversion. Lots of people also consider it a sexual preference. You chose to use words that stigmatize BDSM, and you chose not to present words that don't stigmatize BDSM. You could have made the same point without using stigmatizing words. Stating that you have no opinion after the fact is an attempt to dodge responsibility for that.

The way we ... (read more)

2PhilGoetz12yIf you jump into discussions of BDSM with moral accusations, and threaten people with social rejection unless they discuss it the way you want them to, you discourage people from talking about it at all. That's not to your advantage. Thanks for the links - I'll look into them. I appreciate your sharing your knowledge.
0[anonymous]12yI did not present a judgemental viewpoint. IMHO.
4loqi12yThat's an issue to take up with Socrates. We examine stuff. You don't know this site very well. We would discuss those questions if they seemed relevant. An important category of discourse here is "examining what makes X people do Y" when Y runs counter to their other goals, as some of the masochism examples seem to do. Did you even click the "Followup to" link to see what the original context was for this discussion? People intentionally losing, people intentionally seeking "negative" emotional stimuli. Can you see how this might reasonably connect to masochism in particular, and not sexuality in general?
Is masochism necessary?

Hi. I'm Clarisse Thorn, a BDSM educator and activist. I blog at [ ]. Props to Michael Bishop for directing me to your post.

Wow, where to begin. I'll try not to get too upset, but for me, this was a really bad start to your post:

::::::::::: Many people think of masochism as a sexual perversion :::::::::::

Why did you start right out by referring to BDSM as a "sexual perversion"? Couldn't you have chosen some less judgmental words? Seriously, it would have been so easy. You could have just said "sexual... (read more)

3PhilGoetz12yBecause it's making an interesting point; and because it's true. Many people do think of BDSM as a sexual perversion. I didn't invent this reality; I just live here. And the interesting point is that they might find it acceptable to do something similar in other areas of their life, perhaps just because sex isn't involved. I didn't call it a sexual perversion. I said that "many people think of it as a sexual perversion." My post says that engaging in SM may be a lot like eating spicy food or watching horror movies. That's probably more sympathetic to your view than anything you'll find in mainstream media, or even in psychology journals. If that means that you resent discussion of the idea, this website isn't right for you. We discuss things that make us uncomfortable, because we want to know the answer. (And the more uncomfortable the answer, the more interesting we find it. Perhaps it's our own special style of masochism. :) It's almost impossible by definition for an evol-psych theory to imply that masochism is always maladaptive. Could you post some links to specific pages discussing theories?

I very often read things in this community that suggests that sexuality is very much not one of the matters on which they have succeeded in being rational.

For the record, I'm a practicing sadomasochist; I enjoy both sadism and masochism, and have a large range of paraphenalia to that end. I'm having an absolutely fantastic time with it, and though I know tastes differ, from where I'm sitting if you're not a sadomasochist then you're missing out on the great fun we're having.

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