The Stanford Undergraduate and the Mentor
February 13, 2015 10:12 AM   Subscribe

"This case, which has been picked up by the media, does not fit neatly into the narratives that have fueled an ongoing national conversation about sexual assault of students on campus. But it exposes the risks of Stanford’s open door to Silicon Valley and the pressure that universities are under to do more for students who say they’ve been raped. It also reveals the complexity of trying to determine the truth in a high-stakes case like this one."
posted by crazy with stars (76 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
It also reveals the complexity of trying to determine the truth in a high-stakes case like this one.

Without reading the article yet: Are there rape cases where the stakes are low? Or is that statement taking for granted that rape cases have inherently high stakes?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:24 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


More aberrations of the privileged class. The whole thing plays out like a soap opera. Mercurial, privileged young man who happens to be in the right place at the right time - made possible by his social class and connections - meets young woman who is at Stanford by dint of her family's wealth and social connections. They are both bright, and on track to use/develop powerful Rolodex lists that will slingshot them into fortune and fame.

The young man uses poor judgement in wooing someone who he is supposed to be mentoring. The young woman uses poor judgment by projecting her starry-eyed Catholic version of "Mr. Perfection" onto her mentor.

Inevitably, things break down. All the warning signs are there. The young man is too naive to understand the dynamics of power in an immature relationship. The young woman - who appears to have had multiple psychological trauma and disturbances *before* she met the young man, breaks down.

Following the above fiasco, their surfeit of connection and money are "put to work". Instead of moving on from the relationship, we see one monied attempt after another to "get even" -make the young man appear as a rapist and pariah; make the young woman appear as a disturbed and unstable person. The activities of the therapist in this case are over the top ignorant; and, where is the father of the young woman? It's an entitled, upper-middle-class clown show.

Maybe I should feel sorry for the actors in this fiasco, but somehow I don't. they have been given every opportunity, every privilege, every break - and yet they still manage to screw up.

Are these the people we want to inherit the power apex in American culture? I hope not.

Last, the detailing of what happened during their sexual encounters will follow them for the rest of their probably-privileged lives. The whole thing wreaks of petty revenge and hubris, on both sides.
posted by Vibrissae at 10:28 AM on February 13, 2015 [38 favorites]


I read this yesterday... this article made me so sad. Such a common pattern.

I am wondering how the Catholicism aspect plays into her case; I can imagine that there are people who might think something along the lines of, "well, you're Catholic, so you're probably just accusing him of rape because you regret having sex with him; it wasn't rape." (I certainly hope this isn't the case, but isn't every aspect of the survivor's personal life scrutinized in "high-stakes" rape cases?)
posted by gemutlichkeit at 10:29 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


This case doesn't even seem particularly high stakes, for the guy who was accused. The worst punishment that Stanford can mete is banning him from their private campus for 10 years. He's not a student, an staff or faculty member, or a family member of a student. A job or a degree is not in jeopardy.
posted by muddgirl at 10:30 AM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


It seems fairly uncontested that she had more/rougher sex than she wanted to because her boyfriend guilted, manipulated, cajoled and possibly physically forced her to, all within the context of an inappropriate, unequal, and controlling relationship.

I wish there were as many people willing to call that rape as there are trying to call it "complicated."
posted by annekate at 10:31 AM on February 13, 2015 [36 favorites]


...all within the context of an inappropriate, unequal, and controlling relationship.

I wish there were as many people willing to call that rape as there are trying to call it "complicated."


No, apparently we now call that a Valentine's Day movie.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:38 AM on February 13, 2015 [47 favorites]


The company that the mentor helped found, Palintir, is mighty creepy (in a CIA data analytics kind of way)
posted by el io at 10:50 AM on February 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


It seems fairly uncontested . . .

What is your basis for this impression? I don't get that from the linked article, which gave me the impression that it is very much contested.
posted by slkinsey at 10:51 AM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Growing up in the suburbs of Fairfax County, Virginia, Clougherty thought at one point about becoming a nun. She set that idea aside by age 15 as she became interested in neuroscience. By then she was also a professional model. Clougherty is 5-foot-10, lithe and blond, with an open, “almost luminous” presence, as one of her professors put it

I don't know anything about this unnamed professor, but that comes across as very creepy in this context.

... When Clougherty was 10, her family says, a man accosted her in a restaurant on her way to the bathroom. As a teenager trying out for modeling jobs, she would put on heels and makeup for casting calls. “I looked so much older than I was,” Clougherty said. “There were always just a lot of men, complete strangers, on the subways and in the streets, blocking me off or following me, touching my breasts, grabbing my arm. I’d have to walk through them.”

I'm a bit surprised that her parents supported the modeling work if she was being sexualized like this, especially at such a young age (which I realize is not unusual for girls in general). I'm not saying that her parents are obviously bad parents, or that any of this is her fault or their fault, but it seems odd somehow.
posted by clockzero at 10:57 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


“If I said no, he would slowly convince me/make it look like he was going to die if I didn’t climb on top of him. He would freak out when I mentioned I wanted to slow things down, even if it meant having sex only once each time I would see him. One time I cried hysterically because it freaked me out and he wouldn’t listen to me but he would then immediately start crying way harder than me saying he felt like a creepy old man and didn’t want to feel that way. I felt compelled to comfort him even though I was the one who felt violated.”
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:59 AM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


What is your basis for this impression?

Because he didn't deny these accusations. What he has denied was the accusation that he raped her at his house. His case seems to be "look at these emails, clearly she liked me" and "nothing I would consider rape happened," both of which could be 100% true and it wouldn't really change anything.

She leveled some very specific details of the ways he manipulated and coerced her and he has not to my knowledge addressed or denied them.
posted by annekate at 11:03 AM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Many women told me that because they are in the minority, they often find themselves in the role of supplicant when trying to get a job or funding and that men often see professional interactions as sexual opportunities

More than any other line in this very interesting story, I think this one illuminates the problem. There is a power imbalance which was operating in this relationship, and which really undermines consent. Another problem which this "mentor" seems to have been blind to is that his "girlfriend" was very young, fragile and naive.

This is an old story -- frankly I read this and thought again of Bill Clinton's repeated sexual encounters with women who were subordinate to and/or much younger than he was. I think for any person in a position of power, male or female, the moral is that it is on us not to exploit, in any way but especially sexually, people who aren't on the same power level. I also think Stanford and other institutions owe it to their "mentors" to spell this requirement out much more clearly and to to their undergraduates to provide some education on how to spot, protect themselves against, and report people who exploit their positions.
posted by bearwife at 11:08 AM on February 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


I think for any person in a position of power, male or female, the moral is that it is on us not to exploit, in any way but especially sexually, people who aren't on the same power level.
...which is something that no part of modern (Western/American) society is willing to accept. Do not expect The Powerful to give up any of their dubious 'perks' until you pry them from their cold dead hands.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:13 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I hated this article, and, for once in my life, agreed with the comments (sort by "Readers Picks").
posted by Aubergine at 11:22 AM on February 13, 2015


In this piece and others about Silicon Valley, there are strong hints of a culture shaped by men who consider women part of a mysterious species that exists solely to fulfill teenage wet dreams, rather than human beings they can work and socialize alongside.
posted by sallybrown at 11:25 AM on February 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


strong hints of a culture
Hints? It's the #1 lesson that Nerds learned from Jocks. Any Silicon Valley operation that isn't more sexist than the NFL is going to have trouble getting Venture Capital, and they all know it.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:29 AM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


In every relationship, there are two people with different wants and needs. Sometimes, these result in a person doing something they'd rather not do. If I refuse to have sex with my wife unless she puts the toddler to bed, maybe I'm manipulating her with threats and maybe dealing with the kid just puts me into a mood where I'm not interested.

On the one hand, we have to allow that individuals have agency and are able to make decisions, and that those decisions sometimes lead them to do things they'd rather not do. On the other hand, those decisions are also sometimes made in a context that's coercive enough for us to easily recognize them as insufficiently free-willed.

What amounts to "sufficiently coercive"? I find it hard to believe it's possible to draw a bright line.
posted by Slothrup at 11:31 AM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


> he would then immediately start crying way harder than me saying he felt like a creepy old man and didn’t want to feel that way

Hey asshole, there's a way to fix that. One that doesn't involve manipulating your partners or making them both the cause of and solution to your emotional fuckedupedness.
posted by rtha at 11:33 AM on February 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


>> What is your basis for this impression?

Because he didn't deny these accusations.


His web site says: "Let me be completely clear: there is not a single allegation of abuse, assault or neglect contained in her lawsuit that is true. These attacks were and are 100 percent fiction – provably false." I would say that, together with a lawsuit for defamation, counts as "vigorously contested."
posted by slkinsey at 11:37 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I also think Stanford and other institutions owe it to their "mentors" to spell this requirement out much more clearly

I find it really hard to believe that any 29-year old adult, of sound mind, in the United States of America don't realize that they shouldn't date/have sex with students, tutees, mentees, employees, etc. etc - whether or not it's clearly outlined in the Stanford Code of Conduct, which it is.
posted by muddgirl at 11:46 AM on February 13, 2015 [27 favorites]


I'm a bit surprised that her parents supported the modeling work if she was being sexualized like this, especially at such a young age (which I realize is not unusual for girls in general). I'm not saying that her parents are obviously bad parents, or that any of this is her fault or their fault, but it seems odd somehow.

Yes, and the letter from her mother to Lonsdale-- linked in his personal statement, pretty far down the page (" Her mother emailed me a two-page letter imploring me to get back together with her daughter") is bizarre. None of her mother's behavior is an effective defense of him, but it suggests why she might have been so vulnerable.
posted by BibiRose at 11:59 AM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Relationships characterised by unnegotiated sadomasochism have a tendency to create unhappiness.

But as for Stanford's initially weak response? Well, to a greater or lesser degree, Stanford's been pimping many of its students to the Valley for decades. So it's easy to see why it seemed to approach this initially as just part of a continuum.
posted by meehawl at 12:02 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Characterizing a 29 year old formally titled mentor and a 21 year old student as 'a young man' and 'a young woman' is not an appropriate description of age, relationship, or expected emotional maturity or behavior.
posted by bq at 12:07 PM on February 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


This article perfectly exemplifies the NYTimes' relentless focus on the travails of affluent white people. Privileged, naive and mentally unbalanced Stanford undergrad meets unsettlingly predatory young Silicon Valley entrepreneur. What could go wrong?
posted by killdevil at 12:08 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


An adult getting influenced into agreeing to or participating in something that they will regret later isn't a rape or the other person's responsibility
posted by knoyers at 12:09 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ugh, so much about Lonsdale rubs me the wrong way. His counterclaim suit basically reads to me like "bitches be crazy, amirite," which is trotted out so frequently to discredit women's legitimate claims that at this point it inclines me to reflexively believe the so-described crazy bitch. His dismissal of the mentorship as a "super-casual thing," his insistence that Clougherty's unease about their sex life was just because she was Catholic and repressed. . . I dunno, I've known that guy, the guy with the string of crazy exes, that he was just dating this great girl minding his own business when all of a sudden she went TOTALLY CRAZY, the problem can't be him because he is super feminist, etc. In every case of That Guy that I've run into, he's been a creeper and a jerk at best. Perhaps most troubling to me is the fact that when Jane made her statement in support, it included her opinion that if she had seen anything that she found disturbing in their relationship at the time she would have talked to Clougherty's mother about it -- but she DID talk to Clougherty's mother about exactly those kinds of fears, and when confronted with that evidence now, says "well I guess I did feel that way then but I don't now because of reasons and also I am more experienced." Part of me wonders how much of those "experiences" involve Lonsdale and him pressuring her to remember things a different way.

On the other hand, Clougherty has definitely done some really wacky things; if she did call high-level officers in outfits that were considering doing business with him and telling them she was assaulted, that is WAY out there and over the line in terms of acceptable behavior. (Which outfits, though? They aren't named in the counterclaim suit, and Formation 8 says they knew nothing about the allegations.)The way Jane describes her experience of the relationship as progressing from "troubled" to "abusive" to "psychological torture" after it ended is also a behavior pattern I've seen from actual people in my life, people who want the world to believe that they are as badly wronged as they themselves believe themselves to be. But sometimes, those people actually are badly wronged.

The only thing that is definitely clear to me is that Clougherty's mother is a piece of work who appears to have zero sense of boundaries between her life and her daughter's, or any idea as to how much interference in her daughter's sexual and romantic life is appropriate. Why would she write a letter to Lonsdale begging him to take her daughter back? I mean, under any circumstances? That seems like lunacy to me.
posted by KathrynT at 12:09 PM on February 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


An adult getting influenced into agreeing to or participating in something that they will regret later isn't a rape or the other person's responsibility

An adult getting coerced or browbeaten into same, though, very well may be.
posted by KathrynT at 12:11 PM on February 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Stanford Code of Conduct:

There are special risks in any sexual or romantic relationship between individuals in inherently unequal positions, and parties in such a relationship assume those risks. In the university context, such positions include (but are not limited to) teacher and student, supervisor and employee, senior faculty and junior faculty, mentor and trainee, adviser and advisee, teaching assistant and student, principal investigator and postdoctoral scholar or research assistant, coach and athlete, attending physician and resident or fellow, and individuals who supervise the day-to-day student living environment and their students.

Because of the potential for conflict of interest, exploitation, favoritism, and bias, such relationships may undermine the real or perceived integrity of the supervision and evaluation provided. Further, these relationships are often less consensual than the individual whose position confers power or authority believes. In addition, circumstances may change, and conduct that was previously welcome may become unwelcome. Even when both parties have consented at the outset to a sexual or romantic involvement, this past consent does not remove grounds for a charge based upon subsequent unwelcome conduct.

Such relationships may also have unintended, adverse effects on the climate of an academic program or work unit, thereby impairing the learning or working environment for others – both during such a relationship and after any break-up. Relationships in which one party is in a position to evaluate the work or influence the career of the other may provide grounds for complaint by third parties when that relationship gives undue access or advantage, restricts opportunities, or simply creates a perception of these problems.

For all of these reasons, sexual or romantic relationships--whether regarded as consensual or otherwise--between individuals in inherently unequal positions should in general be avoided and in many circumstances are strictly prohibited by this policy.
(Emphasis in original.)
posted by blucevalo at 12:14 PM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Then Clougherty got an email from Lonsdale. “Ellie — is this the class you’re in/do you require mentorship? haha,” he wrote, forwarding a general query the teacher had sent him about mentoring for the course, which Lonsdale had done previously. Later that day, Lonsdale was switched onto Clougherty’s team.

"Haha" indeed. What a clusterfuck.
posted by BibiRose at 12:20 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


An adult getting influenced into agreeing to or participating in something that they will regret later isn't a rape or the other person's responsibility

Oh, thanks for clearing that up. Next up: why "getting influenced" into giving someone your wallet under threat of violence and then "regretting" the incident later isn't actually mugging.
posted by clockzero at 12:35 PM on February 13, 2015 [19 favorites]


An adult getting influenced into agreeing to or participating in something that they will regret later isn't a rape or the other person's responsibility

At all? Not even morally? Does this mean anyone over 18 or 21, depending on how you define "adult," is fair game for anything they can be influenced into doing, regardless of subordinate rank, mental capacity, fragility, or economic dependence?

I hope you think some more on this, because otherwise you are doing a great job illustrating how entitlement and exploitation and consequent damage work.
posted by bearwife at 12:50 PM on February 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


This article had no time pressure to publish it, and as such I find it really tasteless that they appeared to have released for the 50 Shades Of Grey premiere.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:54 PM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


In his defense....*

Working for a startup funded by the CIA doing data analytics for intelligence agencies probably means this relationship isn't even close to the creepiest thing he's done in his life.

* oh wait, that probably wasn't exactly in his defense.
posted by el io at 12:56 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


What amounts to "sufficiently coercive"? I find it hard to believe it's possible to draw a bright line.

Think of it as a threshold. Pushing a little old lady into traffic is, perhaps, less bad than participating in genocide. However, we don't have a punishment worse than life imprisonment so we punish them equally. Likewise, serious consent violations constitute sexual assault; holding a knife or a gun is not required to cross that threshold.

All attempts by mentors and teachers to initiate sexual relations with their charges are "sufficiently coercive." Predators like that should not be permitted to continue working in their industry. We should be talking about what criminal sanctions would be appropriate for them.

Speaking as an educator, I have difficulty even speaking about these predators without swearing.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:57 PM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


What the hell was her mother thinking, shopping for an apartment for her daughter's mentor to pay the rent on? If my adult child was dating her university mentor, that is not the response I would have.

It sort of sounds to me like this woman never developed any agency of her own, didn't know what she wanted, and allowed people in her life (mom, boyfriend) to make decisions for her she didn't necessarily want. What a nightmare.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:15 PM on February 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


I am wondering how the Catholicism aspect plays into her case; I

Traditional Catholics tend to have a "you break it, you buy it" policy when it comes to their daughters. Call me a cynical ex-Catholic but I suspect if he asked her to marry him tomorrow the mother would be all for it. In the meantime Ellies only option for continued parental support is likely to maintain that the sex wasn't her fault, no matter how the relationship actually happened.

Lonsdale was in the wrong to agree to mentor a student he was already involved with. But ugh, the mother is giving me flashbacks to high school, right down to the eating disorder and the manipulative and boundary violating communication to the prospective SIL. (Not me but several friends). She needs to get away from all of them.
posted by fshgrl at 1:23 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


It sort of sounds to me like this woman never developed any agency of her own, didn't know what she wanted, and allowed people in her life (mom, boyfriend) to make decisions for her she didn't necessarily want.

Predators who want someone that they can control and manipulate sniff out people that are vulnerable precisely in the way that they need them to be. It's not happenstance.
posted by muddgirl at 1:30 PM on February 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


How do you know this guy is a predator? That is a serious question. From the emails she wrote him she seems to have really been into the dude and doesn't seem like, well, prey:

" I really love how much you care about me and like I told {redacted} in Rome, the love I feel for you is deep..., and I secretly think I want to take care of you more than you do me. I want to protect and defend you. It's almost masculine in that sense, lol, but it's something I've never experienced before and it is something that is stronger than any other form of love that I can think of. You make me become a selfless person and that is a quality I crave for.

***

talk to you soon my darling,
love,

Ellie"
posted by oneirodynia at 1:48 PM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I didn't think of myself as "prey" when I was 18 and very interested indeed in my 36-year-old boss.

Fortunately, she recognized that she was the actual adult, and responded appropriately - that is, she did not respond. I was without question in a position to be exploited (at a minimum). She was a good person, and did not take advantage of that.
posted by rtha at 1:52 PM on February 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


How do you know this guy is a predator?

No, you're right. It's completely normal and not at all creepy for a 29 year old man to meet a sophomore in college that he's interested in and volunteer for a position of authority over her.

...and then, when that relationship ends, to start dating another college student.

Yes, not fucking creepy as shit at all.
posted by muddgirl at 1:57 PM on February 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


How do you know this guy is a predator? That is a serious question. From the emails she wrote him she seems to have really been into the dude and doesn't seem like

Do I need to tell you that these two things are not incompatible. Why do I need to tell you this.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:58 PM on February 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


In December 2012, Lonsdale wrote Clougherty a long email. “We are dealing with serious relationship dysfunction,” he began, and laid out a list of examples in bullet points. The first read: “Sometimes I feel it’s very clear you are eager to engage sexually, but other times you will talk about me taking advantage of you and forcing myself on you as if there is this dirty old man/young innocent student dynamic, and I should feel badly about it. We will do something and then just a bit later you’ll talk as if ‘how can I stop you from making me do that?’ and yet earlier I honestly thought you wanted to.
The number of flags for abuse and gaslighting and emotional manipulation in that alone?

HOLY SHIT.
posted by joyceanmachine at 2:01 PM on February 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


This guy seems to have poor judgment, and clearly should have declined to mentor her.

I'm reluctant to play into the sexist narratives here. At the same time, this particular woman seems to be an extremely unreliable witness and everything in writing seems to contradict her story and corroborate his. Having had friends with this level of disordered thinking, I believe Jane's narrative.

I hate when terrible cases like this get publicity. It really is an outlier.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 2:06 PM on February 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Based just off of the story, he sounds at best foolish and at least partly predatory; she sounds like she has capital-I-issues and isn't particularly in a fit state to be out in the world. The overlap of the two is tragic. I'm surprised that all that he faces from Stanford is the ten year ban, but I guess his status as a big shot tech guy buy him at least that much protection.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:35 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


How do you know this guy is a predator?

No, you're right. It's completely normal and not at all creepy for a 29 year old man to meet a sophomore in college that he's interested in and volunteer for a position of authority over her.

...and then, when that relationship ends, to start dating another college student.

Yes, not fucking creepy as shit at all.


"Creepy" and "predatory" are not the same thing. I too think it's creepy that he dated his mentee- as should have been apparent in my previous comment questioning what the hell her mom was thinking. I don't see how dating a 21 year old as a 29 year old makes one a "predator" or even "creepy", even if dating a mentee is hugely problematic due to the inherent power dynamic. He was already on a list of student mentors, I don't believe that he volunteered just to mentor Ellie, though he took the opportunity to do so when it became available. Bad idea IMO, but not necessarily predatory- they had already been seeing each other socially. Ellie emailed him to tell him she had enrolled in the class, because she already knew that he was a volunteer mentor. She may have been young, but she was an adult, and reading her emails immediately after they met she was wildly enthusiastic to spend time with this guy. That's not to say he should have taken the opportunity, but I'm just not seeing the exploitation here. I'm not willing to say she was at his mercy- he had no influence on grading policy. This isn't just a cut-and-dried situation where he coerced her into being his student and relying on him for a grade. I don't feel comfortable declaring someone a predator, as if they seek out vulnerable students to exploit with regularity, with the details known about this specific situation.


I also don't think it's creepy for him to date another college student. He wasn't mentoring her, she said their relationship was consensual. Maybe I'm biased because I dated 29 year olds when I was 21. I'm just not seeing the big deal about those ages, just the imbalanced power dynamic of the mentor/mentee relationship. All around a terrible idea, but I don't see why her mom supported this relationship to the extent that she did. For fuck's sake, she even got on the phone with his assistant so that they could meet up in Europe on break. They had a hotel room together! If you're going to call this guy a predator, than surely her mother was an accessory to that act.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:38 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Having had friends with this level of disordered thinking, I believe Jane's narrative.

I'm with you about the disordered thinking, but there are parts of Jane's narrative that are contradicted by documentable facts.
posted by KathrynT at 2:45 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


This, from the defamation suit:

Around this time, Mr. Lonsdale suggested to Ms. Clougherty that they disclose their still-Platonic relationship to the Technology Entrepreneurship professor, but Ms. Clougherty refused; she believed this professor was attracted to her and that disclosing their mutual attraction would make him jealous and harm her in class. Mr. Lonsdale deferred to Ms. Clougherty.

Maybe he's lying, and made this up. There's no evidence for or against it available to me, random person on the internet. If true, he knew that there was some impropriety about their situation. Too bad he didn't stop it from going any further at that point.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:56 PM on February 13, 2015


"He had older friends who also dated undergraduates, he said. “I didn’t think it was any big deal.”

Maybe all these guys need to have another think about this. It sounds like such a toxic situation.
posted by BibiRose at 2:59 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


The situation with the therapist sounds really problematic, too. It reminded me of the McMartin pre-school molestation case, and raises the sector of false memories being fostered. "Before she went into therapy, Clougherty told me, she didn’t want to admit even to herself that she had been raped." Add Keith Saylor to the list of people who may be manipulating Ms. Clougherty
posted by feste at 3:16 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Many women told me that because they are in the minority, they often find themselves in the role of supplicant when trying to get a job or funding and that men often see professional interactions as sexual opportunities...

I was going to comment in the Wadhwa thread about this, but this seems a little more appropriate (or at least more on point).

When people talk about the "toxic culture" of the tech sector, or the "toxic culture" of high finance, I can't help but feel like one of the main aspects of why these cultures exist is because of a very narrow focus and allowing some of our more base human behaviors take control.

The main one being how men treat other men in a hierarchical system.

It seems to me, based on my observations and the many, many, many articles on the subject of VC funding and tech start-ups, that one of the main aspects of the culture is one where it's not just women/minorities who are in the role of the supplicant. This is baked into the system. Entrepreneurial start-up owners ARE supplicants to their VC funders. It just happens to be that because they are men, there is a different manner in which domination is achieved and maintained.

In the Wadhwa FPP, many people note that the advice for women to be more confident and express more ridiculous projections and brag more about their accomplishments is just not going to work. And here's, in my view, why. (Sidenote, as this is going to have a lot of generalization for brevity: Please read this is good faith. I am trying to expound upon a myriad of ideas that I don't have a clear way to illustrate without writing a novel with a ton of additional reading that going into a lot of this. Suffice to say a lot of this is based upon reading a lot of feminist critical theory, behavioral and cognitive psychology, and the adaptive model of primate behavioral studies and how the results of those have influenced our understanding of human sociological behavior. Also, I'm not an academic, just really curious about how people work.)

If a male owner seeking funding from a VC funder brags or boasts or over-sells his ideas, what the VC funder is hearing is not "this guy is confident." He is hearing one thing. Leverage. The owner has just given the funder a means to control the male owner. The owner has basically laid on his back and exposed his belly to the funder (to you a very poor analogy/metaphor. Sorry, it's the best I could come up with). The establishes for the funder that the owner is willing to expose himself to the funders whims. This creates a power dynamic.

When you add in a gendered dynamic, you end up with the funder not only having a social power over them, but also, when not examined, the funder may also interpret a sexual factor (that more often than not does not exist). This is also why you get thing like the story about the Silicon Valley founder sending a female reporter KY Jelly and dildo. Because of the blind spot of how men are NOT told that women are equals, they end up treating them as objects of sexual conquest.

There has to be something going on in the subconscious of men that is unexamined in a broader cultural sense. This would be part of why I am utterly convinced that feminism is needed. You have to critically examine the reasons why these things happen. If the dominant narrative in VC funding is that the founders/owners have to be submissive to the dominant funders, that has to change. You have to get these sharks out of the swimming pool, because they are confounding the function of the market (if you want to be capitalist about it).

No matter what, though, we have to address this problem. The utter lack of insight into their own behaviors and how power dynamics are such an ingrained part of this culture is not just a problem, it is ultimately going to destroy the system (or at least, one would hope. Sadly, I think it will continue for many many more generations, just as the patriarchal corporate world still exists today after several centuries of crap).

I do have hope. At least with the internet and the great amount of signal on this issue being generated, one hopes that it will cause these boy's clubs to be isolated and eventually extinguished.

I think the saddest part is that this is actually a repeat of a cycle that occurred in the 80's with Wall Street and a segment of the Baby Boomers. This is just the next cycle as their children go through the same motions.
posted by daq at 3:35 PM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, this is a situation where a school really can't adjudicate. They are both adults— a 21 year old going out with a 29 year old is not a 38 year old going out with a 16 year old.

They appear to have been dating or certainly knew each other pretty well *before* the mentorship started— so it's not like he got her as a mentee and then seduced her.

The therapist also seems to have practiced in a way that is less like exposure therapy and more like the type of therapy likely to lead to misleading memories.

Her best friend thought she was changing her story and her mother's support of the relationship also suggests that there may have been reframing after the fact.

This is a case where damaged people have twisted relationships. If she wants to press rape charges, she should let the police sort it out. Colleges are not good at being judge, court and jury and it's ridiculous to expect them to be, especially in a case like this.

And if power imbalances rule out relationships then most heterosexual relationships should not be allowed. We are going overboard here and I think denying women agency.
posted by Maias at 3:37 PM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


"Creepy" and "predatory" are not the same thing. I too think it's creepy that he dated his mentee- as should have been apparent in my previous comment questioning what the hell her mom was thinking. I don't see how dating a 21 year old as a 29 year old makes one a "predator" or even "creepy", even if dating a mentee is hugely problematic due to the inherent power dynamic.

I'm sorry if I'm not making myself clear. Here's the timeline of events as I see it:
(1) He meets Ms. Clougherty over the summer between her sophomore and junior years of college,
(2) They continue a sporadic email conversation,
(3) They have coffee during the fall semester of her junior year,
(4) During the spring semester of her junior year, the opportunity to mentor her class comes up. He knows she is in the class, and asks her "is this the class you’re in/do you require mentorship? haha" He is switched into her group (passive voice in the article) the same day.
(5) They begin a relationship within a few weeks.

To me, that seems absolutely predatory. He had several opportunities to have a relationship of equals with her, if that's what he wanted. He didn't start a relationship until he put himself in a position of being her mentor.
posted by muddgirl at 3:37 PM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


How do you know this guy is a predator? That is a serious question.

Pursuing a sexual relationship with a mentee is always predatory.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:52 PM on February 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


I don't know why people are reading Jane as being so credible. Take her 8 page sworn statement submitted at the hearing:
In her sworn statement, Jane wrote, “If I sensed, even remotely, that the relationship was in any way abusive, I would have talked to Ellie’s mom about it.”
But then, years before:
Jane told Clougherty that she thought it was a bad idea for them to get back together. She says Clougherty told her that Lonsdale wanted to have sex “all the time” and that during it, he would put his hand on her throat. She didn’t think her friend was ready for the sexual relationship that Clougherty said Lonsdale wanted.

On Jan. 7, she texted Anne: “I’m scared for Ellie. I don’t want her with Joe at all. In fact, I worry about her safety. The guy is a jackass. What’s going on there? I feel like I may be the only one at school who can look out for her."

"I think you r the only one who looks out for her,” Anne said.

“But what is she thinking?” Jane replied. “From what I’ve heard it sounds horrific and the guy is a psycho. I feel like I’ve failed her because she doesn’t realize she doesn’t have to put up with someone like that. There are so many other unbroken people out there. Anne, I hate to say this but this guy definitely seems like the type who would abuse her.”
When the reporter calls her on the discrepancy, this is the less-than-convincing answer:
At first, Jane said she didn’t remember writing the messages. She later said she recalled them and the concern she felt then, but said that her fears, which were based on Clougherty’s account, seem exaggerated now that she was older and more experienced herself. She and Clougherty haven’t spoken since their phone call nine months ago.
posted by joyceanmachine at 3:59 PM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I think it is pretty obvious from the article that Joe had a crush on Ellie and asked if she needed mentoring so he had a reason to spend more time with her. His former relationship had been apparently more equal, with his GF not liking his long work hours. Ellie, on the other hand, looked up to him as someone who could teach her things and was excited about his work. Joe wanted someone he considered a pretty young thing, to admire him and pay attention to him. It was all about his ego, and he defined it as love. As for Ellie, it sounds like something similar was going on with her. An up-and-comer was really into her and it made her feel good about herself. I don't think she understood the bargain she was making, and maybe he didn't either. Neither of these people (and both are young) demonstrate a lot of self-awareness. And I say that with compassion, having been in situations that called for more self-awareness than I had at the time.

It blew up in their faces. It's not clear what happened in private between them, how consensual things were, or how much of Ellie's regret is due to therapy-brainwashing. But it was a shitload of drama, and that's the reason that older (even slightly older) people in authority aren't supposed to sleep with students, mentees, and employees. It's messy, and one way or another, the more vulnerable party is the one more at risk. Ellie does seem fragile, and Joe just seems like an entitled jerk like the rest of the Peter Thiel Minion Brigade. I'm sad for Ellie that she is surrounded by people who seem manipulative, especially her mother, and hope she will be able to become stronger and more independent after this experience.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 4:22 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


The main one being how men treat other men in a hierarchical system.

I have been working in extremely hierarchical, almost entirely male organizations for years. As in the job titles have numbers, so JobTitle 1s get supervised by JobTitle 2s, and they both get supervised by the 3s and so on, with very little democracy or flexibility of authority. It's not as rigid as the military or the police, but it is close.

In that time, I have seen none of the grossness and weirdness that I read about in tech. I'd posit that the grossness in tech and finance are fed by secrecy -- simply having robust HR systems and transparency around issues of authority and codes of behavior would go a tremendous way towards creating healthier environments. Obviously the current system is working well for the people (mostly men) in the upper tiers, so they aren't going to push for change, but it comes with some very real costs as well.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:44 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


so it's not like he got her as a mentee and then seduced her

As muddgirl explains, this is, in fact, actually exactly what happened according to the article.

What I'm the most weirded out by, I think, is this thread's reaction to the idea that if she had wanted a relationship in the beginning/enjoyed parts of the relationship/was in love with him, that made the sexual dynamic that developed later OK.

If you go by Lonsdale's own words in the December e-mail, she repeatedly told him that he was "forcing" himself on her and that she felt "taken advantage of." What kind of dude then continues the relationship when this happens once? What kind of dude continues the relationship when it's happened multiple times, and the pattern repeats itself? What kind of guy is more upset by his hurt feelings at being called a dirty old man, rather than the fact that he is, by his own admission, repeatedly and knowingly participating in an activity that causes a woman he claims to love that much emotional distress?

I'd like to think that if this situation came up on AskMefi with the version of the story that Lonsdale claims is true -- girl in college, is flattered by his attention and interest, has a pattern where even though she repeatedly tells him about how she regrets having sex afterwards and doesn't like their power dynamic but she keeps having sex with him -- a significant of the thread would be people writing in telling the DTMFA. If it were Lonsdale posting, people would be telling him he was a creep. If it were Clougherty posting, people would be telling her to report him to her professor because this was a SUPER-GROSS SITUATION WITH DEFINITE SEXUAL ABUSE OVERTONES.

And that's the version that's most favorable to Lonsdale.
posted by joyceanmachine at 4:53 PM on February 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


The main one being how men treat other men in a hierarchical system.

It seems to me, based on my observations and the many, many, many articles on the subject of VC funding and tech start-ups, that one of the main aspects of the culture is one where it's not just women/minorities who are in the role of the supplicant. This is baked into the system. Entrepreneurial start-up owners ARE supplicants to their VC funders. It just happens to be that because they are men, there is a different manner in which domination is achieved and maintained.


Actually it appears to be more of a sexual thing than a gender thing. Gay founders suffer the same fate and the hands of gay VCs.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:01 PM on February 13, 2015


I'd like to think that if this situation came up on AskMefi with the version of the story that Lonsdale claims is true -- girl in college, is flattered by his attention and interest, has a pattern where even though she repeatedly tells him about how she regrets having sex afterwards and doesn't like their power dynamic but she keeps having sex with him -- a significant of the thread would be people writing in telling the DTMFA. If it were Lonsdale posting, people would be telling him he was a creep. If it were Clougherty posting, people would be telling her to report him to her professor because this was a SUPER-GROSS SITUATION WITH DEFINITE SEXUAL ABUSE OVERTONES.

You forgot therapy. Everyone would be telling her to go into therapy.

I do not believe, however, that they would be telling her to report that she had been raped. Not every super-gross situation rises to the level of criminal conduct.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:02 PM on February 13, 2015


Note that no criminal charges have been filed, Tell Me No Lies.
posted by KathrynT at 5:15 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I do think the guy seems a bit predatory. I don't think he intended to rape anyone (I don't know if there's enough information to know if he did or not), but I do think he sounds like he deliberately picks people with much less influence and/or wealth, uses his to impress them, and then throws extravagant gifts and opportunities at them to create indebtedness and exert control. He sounds like he wants a supplicant, not an equal partner.

Although, some of these patterns can also be caused by having poor self-image, at least involving relationships (in which case you seek out lower-status partners because you devalue yourself and throw gifts at them in the desperate hope they'll like you).
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:16 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is anyone else reading the emails between Joe and Ellie in his statement or the counterclaim document? I will be the first to say that they are being presented by him and therefore chosen by him to make his case stronger, but She had interviewed him in 2010 and continued sporadic conversation with him. She joined the class after learning he was a mentor. The scenarios some people are laying out about him finding out she was in a class and suddenly becoming her mentor are not necessarily true:

Mr. Lonsdale first became acquainted with Ms. Clougherty in 2010, when she contacted him while she was helping authors Matt Cook and Jon Zhang with their book entitled “The Startup Star,” which profiled Silicon Valley businesspeople. Because of his success in the business world, Mr. Lonsdale was featured in “The Startup Star.” Mr. Lonsdale and Ms. Clougherty exchanged infrequent emails in 2010 and eventually met in person in 2011, when they were introduced by a mutual friend in New York who had just met Ms. Clougherty and her mother, Anne.

In October 2011, Ms. Clougherty emailed Mr. Lonsdale, saying that she “would really love to see you” because “from what little I’ve seen/heard about you, I think we share a great deal in common, particularly related to our energy/willingness/confidence (call it whatever you’d like) to initiate change. . . I realize you’re very involved with all kinds of activities, but if you ever find a free lunch or dinner hour, let me know and I’ll hop on my bike to meet you in a second!”

In January 2012, Ms. Clougherty emailed Mr. Lonsdale that she was in a class on Technology Entrepreneurship, a class for which Mr. Lonsdale had previously told her that he had volunteered as class mentor in previous years. Several days later, finding out that Mr. Lonsdale was confirmed to be a class mentor again, Ms. Clougherty wrote to joke about the idea he would be a mentor to her: “Why hello, Mentor! Haha. This is great!”
posted by oneirodynia at 5:25 PM on February 13, 2015


She joined the class after learning he was a mentor.

but he asked to mentor her class after learning that she was in it.

You know, a woman can be attracted to a man, and yet still be abused by him.
posted by KathrynT at 5:31 PM on February 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Look, I had to stop reading that article because I was starting to feel like I had been dunked in grease, but by the time I got to the story about how he rented Herst Castle for his 30th birthday party and she circulated as hostess/trophy in a ball gown, I was done. Not only is that 16 levels of tacky but it is not something that would be acceptable in any of the circles I frequent (and I mean showing off a sexy undergrad, not renting a castle). Grade: A+ in douchebaggery.
posted by bq at 5:38 PM on February 13, 2015


Here's the entirety of that last email thread, just after they met in person in NYC:


E: "Whoa, I was a bit gutsy lol:

Also I would really love to see you. I saw [redacted] last night (again, your name came up) and from what little I’ve seen/heard about you, I think we share a great deal in common, particularly related to our energy/willingness/confidence (call it whatever you’d like) to initiate change. I'm a few years behind you from making any waves of my own, but would find it very useful to hear about any of your experiences. I haven't been able to find many people as willing to challenge the system as much as you [redacted] do and I'm very drawn to this kind of energy. I realize you’re very involved with all kinds of activities, but if you ever find a free lunch or dinner hour, let me know and I’ll hop on my bike to meet you in a second! Ok so I actually have a car but I figure the image would contribute somehow haha

Crazy! It's cool these are the kinds of qualities we are drawn to in each other. So glad we met eventually!

love,
Ellie”

J: "Haha

Confident young lady

I wish I could kiss you again right now

Just about to drink your wine w my cousins outside"

E: "Great! Enjoy it ;) We can have some more wine when you visit my home. Excited to have you over :))

love, love, Ellie"

For real, that sounds like something other than the flirty beginning of a relationship? That sounds like a predator grooming a victim?
posted by oneirodynia at 5:39 PM on February 13, 2015


She joined the class after learning he was a mentor.

but he asked to mentor her class after learning that she was in it.

You know, a woman can be attracted to a man, and yet still be abused by him.


He had mentored that class for several years in the past:

As my friends know, I have long served as an informal volunteer for a variety of Stanford organizations, including an entrepreneurship class at the University. As a Stanford alum and an entrepreneur, it is something I think is important and that I’ve enjoyed doing.

Fully knowing that I would be volunteering again in the entrepreneurship class for the Winter Quarter, she emailed me to say that she had enrolled in the class. As an informal volunteer, I was one of several names on a roster that was made available to the students, and was encouraged to meet with groups a few times for advice. I was not aware of any Stanford polices in connection with my role, consistent with the fact that the role fell outside the University’s purview. Despite this, I wanted to be careful, so I sent an email to confirm that my role did not mean I would be evaluating her coursework in any way.


So The Times excerpts one email and says one thing, and he says another. Regardless, he didn't sign up to be a mentor just because she was in that class. He was already on a list, having been a mentor in the past. He did not ask to mentor that class. Even The Times article does not say that. He asked her if she needed mentoring. Neither account makes clear who got the professor to add him to her team.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:48 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


She joined the class after learning he was a mentor.

That is not supported by the bit you posted. A causal relationship strongly implied, but there are actually no words that say it outright.

Instead, you'll notice how they omit any direct statements that say exactly what you do. Instead, they imply it. They elide the timeline of when he signed up, when she signed up, but hammer home with a direct quote to underline how she was excited for him to mentor her.

Further, they very specifically leave out the fact that on confirming that she was in the class, he was immediately switched so that he could formally mentor her within the context of the class. In fact, when you insert that into the bit you quoted, he comes off looking super shitty -- he was already signed up to teach it? Then he sends her an e-mail that makes it look like he is still in the solicitation stage, instead of disclosing that he signed up already and is supposed to be mentoring other people?

So it's neatly left out. And the rest of it is phrased in a way that imply a causal connection that they don't actually have the proof/facts to come out and say. It's slick, smart lawyering, which I'd expect from prepared by not one, but two separate major-ass lawyers at two major-ass huge deal law firms.
posted by joyceanmachine at 5:54 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


For real, that sounds like something other than the flirty beginning of a relationship?

Two responses to that:

1) If a relationship begins with flirting, does that mean it is 100% guaranteed to stay pleasant and non-exploitative forever?

and

2) given that she was an undergrad and he was a mentor in her class, yes, it does.
posted by KathrynT at 5:57 PM on February 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


And yes, I know that women can be attracted to their abusers. Sheesh. Please don't give me the ignoramus treatment just because I don't think this situation is in any way clear cut. I was inclined to believe Joe Lonsdale was a rapist back when the news first broke just because that's usually the case when public accusations are made. But I've read a ton of their correspondence now, and I don't think just saying "dude is a predatory abuser" without reading any more than The Times article fits with my idea of giving people a fair shake. I think a lot of people here are reading into things that really aren't that clear.

On preview:


You know she also has a super-sllck lawyer, right? I'm not seeing how hiring the bests lawyers you can is an indicator of someone's shadiness. Everyone should have the best counsel possible.

1) If a relationship begins with flirting, does that mean it is 100% guaranteed to stay pleasant and non-exploitative forever?

and

2) given that she was an undergrad and he was a mentor in her class, yes, it does.



Jesus, I'm not stupid. Read the emails she sent throughout their relationship. Or don't, if you're dead-set on believing this guy preys on women and managed to be an informal mentor to this class for several years in order to do this very thing*. I can't cut and paste from the pdfs for some reason, and I'm tired of typing out longhand.

*And for god's sake, don't tell me that this is how predators work- I know that. That doesn't mean I can't believe that this is one of those cases where generalizing from an aggregate fact means that is the truth in this specific incident between these two people.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:11 PM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oneirodynia, you asked questions, and I answered them. I'm somewhat mystified by your hostile and condescending attitude here.
posted by KathrynT at 6:18 PM on February 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


oneirodynia: For real, that sounds like something other than the flirty beginning of a relationship? That sounds like a predator grooming a victim?

Holy shit that email exchange gave me the creeps.

You know why? In it, you hear the echoes of the sinking hearts of hundreds of thousands of bright, enterprising very young women thudding on the concrete floor of reality, as they realize their brilliant male mentors hadn't actually been totally interested in their talents and ideas and careers, that the fount of wisdom hadn't been pure and clear.

And then those hearts rise up with faint hope, buoyed by a defense mechanism so old as to be hard-wired, as the women think, oh, it must be that my mentor was first attracted to my intelligence and then couldn't help but notice my looks. Respects my brain AND is into me that way.

Because the alternative is absolutely soul-crushing - that the mentor is attracted to me only because of my sex - as that would imply not only that am I mediocre, but that my mentor considers me to be so stupid that I would be willing to accept his propositions motivated purely by lust and be content to be a pretty trophy.
posted by nemutdero at 6:20 PM on February 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


And man, just read that exchange. With just one edit, that email could have been written by any naive overeager undergrad trying to reach out to a powerful potential mentor. She wasn't asking for a date at that time, she was asking for mentorship ("I realize you’re very involved with all kinds of activities, but if you ever find a free lunch or dinner hour, --"). See how dismissive J was, how he reduced her to a kissable girl.
posted by nemutdero at 6:30 PM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


They also had had previous interactions that lead to him telling her he was in a serious relationship. And the little edit is actually a big one when you consider the weight of a word like "love".

The vast majority of these cases are clear-cut. This one isn't. Ironically so. SV is such a toxic environment for women. College is dangerous for women and sexual assault is endemic. Combining the two seems like a recipe for disaster. And yet...the major exploiter of this woman seems to be her mother.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:41 AM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]



If you go by Lonsdale's own words in the December e-mail, she repeatedly told him that he was "forcing" himself on her and that she felt "taken advantage of." What kind of dude then continues the relationship when this happens once?


You're quoting from an email where he acknowledged that it was a huge problem and a potential relationship-ender. He also subsequently ended the relationship. It can be the case that people can feel extremely ambivalent about sex even after seeking it out and actively consenting to it. People with sexually related trauma (myself included) might have serious negative reactions or trauma triggers related to sex that have nothing to do with our partner's behavior, but lead us to feel coerced/pressured/resentful/angry after consensual sex. Are we all to be summarily dumped?
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:54 AM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


This story is an excellent example of why you don't fuck your mentee, no matter how flirty that person might be. You are in a position of power, you have more experience--it's really not unusual for the mentee to be impressed/enamoured. And yes it's flattering as hell.

But for your own sake. For the mentee's sake. Just don't. As a mentor, it is your responsibility understand this.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:37 AM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Relationship wasn't the best word, and that sentence is poorly phrased/explained. I'm sorry about that.

What I was trying to get at that he kept having sex with someone he supposedly loved when she kept telling him afterwards that he was raping her -- like, once I get, two or three or four times or a dozen times or whatever. people are complicated and relationships are too. If they kept talking about it, for example, and thinking that they worked through it and then stuff happened and they hadn't. But we don't get that.

We don't get a sense of him having treated this seriously. We don't get a sense that her being so upset that she is sayings these things as having upset him too. We don't get anything about 'we keep talking about it, and I think it's worked up, but it isn't. He doesn't give any signs that he is taking these statements seriously aside from how shitty it makes him feel to be called a dirty old man. Notably, he doesn't mention steps they've taken to make sure she is okay each time they have sex.

Instead, he talks about his feelings being hurt. Yeah, they broke up, but what about it all the times before that? Maybe it's just shitty phrasing (and I may be overly sensitive because it's a lot to read into a small smack and I was in an emotionally and sexually abusive relationship for an extended period when the dynamic was a lot like this) the stuff I'd expect a decent, non-abusive partner to do.

That's what I was trying to say and did very badly. I'm sorry I implied shitty things. You have my genuine apologies about that.
posted by joyceanmachine at 10:44 AM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


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