Think about the last time you got hit on. Were you at the bar? In a bookstore? At a spin class? Now think about if you told the absolute truth for the entirety of that first conversation you had with the guy or girl who was hitting on you. I don’t know how the rest of you answered that question, but the last time a woman blatantly hit on me at a bar was about three weekends ago. I was waiting for the bartender to bring me three vodka sodas, and a girl who couldn’t have been older than 23 or 24 came up and asked me if I was on my period.
“Ahh. Unfortunately, you’ve used that joke incorrectly. If I had ordered a vodka-cranberry that would have worked but I ordered vodka-soda. I appreciate The Departed reference, though” I said.
“Fuck. Well my names Jacqueline.”
“Hi, I’m Xavier. Nice to meet you.”
Notice anything wrong with that conversation? My name isn’t Xavier, folks. It’s John. But I was at a bar. And lying in a bar comes as naturally to me as ordering a Bud Light does. It just happens. And everyone does it. Why did I lie and tell this girl my name was Xavier? I don’t know. It’s a fun thing to do. Jacqueline didn’t have sex with me that night, but she did give me her number. I later admitted that my name was not Xavier, and that was the end of it. She laughed it off and we continued talking. The point of the story is this: everyone is lying at the bar. They’re lying at parties. They’re lying at work. We’re all lying and that’s okay.
So how are we supposed to identify what is a malicious lie and what is a white lie? Because in my opinion the only way to do that would be on a case-by-case basis. VICE posed a question which is incredibly difficult to answer: is lying to get laid a form of sexual assault?
Joyce Short, a woman who was interviewed for this story, is trying to show people what she calls “rape by fraud.” In recent years, we’ve seen high-profile rape cases all over the country. In 2016, it really feels ugly to even use the word “rape.” It is by no means a joking matter, and I’m not trying to diminish or undermine anyone who has been the victim of sexual assault. But I can’t sit here and say that rape should become a blanket definition that includes the act of lying. The coining of this phrase “rape by fraud” is a little offensive to men and women who have been sexually assaulted before.
If I had gone home with our friend Jacqueline, but she was under the impression that my name was Xavier, under Joyce’s definition I would be a rapist. So in essence, Joyce would like to outlaw the act of lying to get in someone’s pants because she got bamboozled one time.
She [Joyce] met a “very handsome, debonair young man” who seemed perfect for her: Jewish, single, with a degree in accounting from NYU. She would learn much later, after they had begun dating, that none of this was true. “I am going to shout it from every rooftop,” Short told VICE. “All lies that undermine a person’s self-determination regarding their reproductive organs are a form of assault.”
I can’t really sympathize with Joyce on this one. Like, couldn’t she have just Facebooked this dude and found out that he was a lying piece of shit? Isn’t a push-up bra undermining my self-determination about whether or not I want to sleep with someone? What about makeup? Aren’t these tangible things that we can look at and say “Hey, that’s lying.” What lies are okay? What lies aren’t okay? It’s impossible to pass legislation on something like this. One time while on a group date I lied to a girl about being a hedge fund manager and I ended up going on something like three or four dates with her. I came clean on our first one-on-one date when we sat down for dinner, and she nearly fell out of her chair laughing because she knew I was lying about that from the jump. She looked me up on Facebook and saw what I actually did and decided that the lie wasn’t that big of a deal.
Unfortunately for all of us at home, VICE neglects to tell us anything else in this article about Joyce’s relationship with the guy who lied about graduating from NYU and being Jewish. I don’t know, maybe do a little bit more digging on someone before you begin dating them. Was Joyce’s partner a bit of a shithead for lying this hard? Yeah, absolutely. But without further information, which, like I said, VICE did not give us, it’s sounding like Joyce was a willing participant in this relationship. No one put a gun to her head and said “Date this man.” I think, at most, we can label Joyce’s ex-boyfriend a dickhead or possibly a sociopath and call it a day. But he is no rapist.
In 2013, Tom Dougherty, a philosophy professor at Cambridge University, published a paper arguing that if you lie or withhold information about anything that would be considered a deal-breaker by your partner—anything that, had they known it, would have changed their mind about sleeping with you—you have sexually assaulted them. The logic is simple: If your partner had known the truth beforehand, they wouldn’t have consented, and the sex wouldn’t have happened.
Consent should be at the forefront of all conversations regarding sex. Both parties need to be in their right minds to consent to the act. But where do you draw the line? How are you going to prosecute someone for stretching the truth about what they do for work or how much money they make in a year? Surely you can’t classify that as sexual assault. Deception has always been a part of sex. Movies and television shows’ entire plot lines are based around men and women lying to each other. And guess what the end game always is? It’s sex.
Bars dim the lights and serve you drinks which decrease inhibition. Girls will wear makeup to hide a blemish. Guys wear beards sometimes to cover up a cold sore they have. Everyone is lying, and to try and regulate an act which has gotten men and women laid for centuries is preposterous..
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