Don’t be a Dick Stump!

Editorial Note: This post was written by Wes Fenza, long before the falling out of our previous quint household and the subsequent illumination of his abusive behavior, sexual assault of several women, and removal from the Polyamory Leadership Network and banning from at least one conference. I have left Wes’ posts  here because I don’t believe it’s meaningful to simply remove them. You cannot remove the truth by hiding it; Wes and I used to collaborate, and his thoughts will remain here, with this notice attached.


Yesterday, my friend Angie Tupelo posted a link that caused me to revisit a term that my partner Jessie and I came up with some time ago.

Dick Stump: verb. The act or behavior of responding to sexual rejection with aggression or hostility, especially by a man directed at a woman.

It can also be used as a noun (see title). The idea is that a woman has metaphorically castrated a man via sexual rejection, and the man responds by attempting to piss on her with the stump. I like the term because it (a) rightly makes the man in the circumstance an object of ridicule, (b) sort of sympathizes with him, in that it acknowledges that a bad rejection can feel like castration, but (c) illustrates how stupid and counterproductive the reaction is. It also brings up the image of pee getting shot everywhere in an uncontrolled splatter, hitting everyone in a 10ft radius, which is often how those sorts of reactions can be.

It looks an awful lot like this:

To all the women of the world,

If you’ve rejected me, I hate you. If we’re just friends, our friendship is over. If we don’t know each other, I will never offer you mere friendship. The friendship I’ve offered to your sex has been abused too much and for too long. I now spit at the concept. So I offer you two options and two options only: take this dick, or fuck off and die. Spread your legs, or go fall on a knife. Wet my prick, or eat a fucking bullet. In other words, if you don’t want to fuck me, then stay out of my life forever. If you don’t want to fuck me, I honestly couldn’t care less if you died. Those are the only options you get. Those are the only options you deserve.

Guys, don’t do that. Dick stumping is the main reason why honesty is hard for women in potentially sexual interactions. For every clear rejection a woman gives, she risks provoking a round of dick stumping, which is at best unpleasant, and at worst dangerous. I encourage everyone subject to a clear sexual rejection to take a deep breath and say “thank you for being honest.”

And remember: friends don’t let friends dick stump. Make it know that dick stumping will not be tolerated in your social circle, and things will get better for everyone.

25 thoughts on “Don’t be a Dick Stump!

  1. Now I’m thinking of a comic book or graphic novel called Dick Stump: Not-so-Private Eye, or Dick Stump: Private Sigh.

    Seriously, though, I think this is the other side to the enthusiastic consent coin. If we’re going to continue to operate under the model of men asking and women consenting or not consenting (which I think we all agree is problematic but is the cultural norm right now), we need men to learn how to accept “no” enthusiastically.

    One of the presenters at OpenSF suggested a proper response to a rejected advance was, “thanks for taking care of yourself.” I’m not entirely sure I like the idea of someone seeing me as a threat to her care for herself, but the general sentiment of thanks seems right to me. “Thanks for being honest” seems like a better choice.

  2. I’m going to have to introduce this term into my lexicon. It describes so well so many OKC interactions I’ve had where I try my best to offer a polite rejection (even to something as simple as refusing to skype with someone who just began talking to me) and then, without warning, I’m responded to with strings of abusive language.

  3. I appreciate most of this, but I’m a little troubled by your point b), the little bit of sympathy acknowledging that a bad rejection can feel like castration. I wouldn’t be bringing it up, except that you have a history of giving very little mercy to irrational feelings, and “she rejected me, I feel castrated” seems to me a very irrational feeling. You’re condemning the dick-stumper’s reaction, but by adopting the phrase you’re essentially validating the feeling. Which would be fine with me if you adopted a general principle of validating people’s feelings, whether irrational and counterproductive or not… but you don’t. So… what’s up with that?

  4. And, as an addendum to my previous comment, that relates to my vague discomfort with the “dick-stump” idea in the first place. The way you’ve always described it, it seems like you’re saying, “Sure, you feel castrated, but don’t then go and piss on her with the stump,” when I feel the more productive long-term response would be, “Dude, your dick is still there. The castration is all in your head.”

  5. Ginny- marry me. Well, if marriage was allowed between same sex people, or more than two people. Or maybe we should just hang out.

    Can someone make a poster for me that says “Dude, your dick is still there. The castration is all in your head.” ?

  6. Dude, of course it’s all in your head. That’s the whole point. It’s your reaction that makes you a dick stump. You are self-castrating. If you don’t react that way, you’re not a dick stump.

    Also, I’m pretty sure my usual reaction to assholery is “I understand how you feel. You’re still an asshole.” Also, I hate the term “validation” being applied to feelings. Feelings cannot be valid or invalid. And I certainty can’t validate or invalidate anyone’s feelings.

  7. Personally, I don’t feel any need to be THANKED for a rejection, for pity’s sake. If I smile and say “No, thank you.” some neutral acknowledgement of the no is plenty fine. “Okay, cool” or some such is dandy.

  8. @OP “I hate the term “validation” being applied to feelings. Feelings cannot be valid or invalid. And I certainty can’t validate or invalidate anyone’s feelings.”

    Sure you can. What is meant by “validation” as we are using it is like this: Person A has a feeling, and Person B indicates that it is o.k. for A to have that feeling. The result is often that A feels less shame about having said feeling.

    Your interpretation of “validation” is different, and seems to mean “everyone is already valid, and therefore there cannot ever be a way to validate someone.” That’s true. It’s just a different definition than the one we’re using. I guess it would be more accurate if we said “helping someone else to realize that they are and always will be valid, even if they are experiencing an emotion that has often been deemed ‘not o.k..'” But that would take too damn long, so we just say “validation” for short.

    @Goddess of Java: Good for you. Most of the rest of us need encouragement though, Lots of other women are taught to be nurturing-uber-alles, even if it means denying themselves the opportunity to give an honest “no, thank you.” And men can benefit from having a gallant and nurturing model that includes a way to graciously accept “no” from a lady (or a gentleman).

    @Ginny: Appreciating your support of irrational feelings. I almost wrote something earlier, but wanted to support OP’s main point, of trying to start consensus on a norm for rejected people to live up to. Since you raise the point though, I have these questions:

    1. What can the rejected person do with their feelings instead of taking it out unfairly on the person who said “no. I.e., what are some healthier alternatives?

    2. If we are a rejected person’s friend, how can we be there for them, and support them in their feelings (emotions) without getting drawn into agreeing with their judgements (like “What a bitch/prick,” or “fucking stuck-up c–_?”). How can we, with our somewhat calmer perspective, guide them into healthier alternatives, without being condescending or taking our empathy away?

    3. If we need to say “no” to someone, and are already good at setting boundaries, how can we go even further in developing our ethical treatment of other people? How can we say “no” firmly and honestly, while still honoring the person receiving the “no.”

  9. I freely admit that I am not good with rejection. Turn me down, I’m probably going to get cold toward you – that’s just the way I am. It’s even true that in the past I have told people in no uncertain terms that I was only physically attracted to them and I didn’t want to “just be friends” because I didn’t particularly like them…just their sexy-bits. But I have never, ever, no matter how wronged I’ve felt, set forth the ultimatum of Coitus or Death.

    Quite frankly, I feel like that’s taking it a bit too far.

  10. In my hippie world, we say, “i can’t trust your yes until I hear your no.”

    I think a positive, appreciative response to a no is important and I love hearing them, because it builds my trust that the next time they ask me a question they will respect my response, whether they like it it not.

    Coitus or death? Sorry, we’re all out of coitus…..

  11. very well, give him coitus too…

    @Anti – Angie has hinted that she may be publishing a semi-serious treatment of the “I don’t want to be friends with you if there’s no sex” attitude. I breifly mentioned it in the comments on her blog, so hopefully (nudge nudge) we’ll see that soon.

  12. How incredibly ironic that this was posted the *very* *next* *day* after I had a very painful breakup with an online romance that I had been involved.

    Not to stray too off-topic, but I personally think that when love and emotional attachment is involved, and violations of commitment, trust, and loyalty have been committed, a little dick stumping (or a lot, as it were) is a perfectly reasonable reaction to rejection. I’ll take having my dick broken over my heart broken any day.

    Just imagine how much easier polyamory would be if it would just be about sex.

  13. @acc

    Am I to take it that you are supporting treating someone [badly] who leaves you unrequited? Are you to excuse bad behavior because you are hurt?

    It seems that your dick stumping is a result of your heart breaking, so it’s not really an either/or situation.

    Easier if it were only about the sex? How? Just go be a swinger.

  14. @shaunphilly

    Excuse it? Not at all. Explain it? Yes.

    It’s absolutely true that dickstumping is unattractive (from my POV, it makes *both* the dickstumper and the dickstumpee look bad), and in response to *sexual* rejection it’s just not necessary.

    But I’m making a distinction between love and sex here. And my point is simply that when your heart is broken when someone betrays the love and deep emotions that you have repeatedly expressed for one another, people tend to lose control. If it’s really bad (like it was for me), telling someone that you never actually mattered to them and to go to hell for that seems only natural. To suppress *that* sort of dickstumping (defined loosely) really does seem like a lot to ask.

    As I said, my comment is a bit off-topic, but it’s a related matter.

    And I think you missed the point about the last sentence in my previous post. The original post is about sex here. *I* was the one that brought up love.

  15. Excuse it? Not at all. Explain it? Yes

    Maybe so, but reasons are not excuses, and I think we ought to denounce understandable behavior just as loudly (or even more loudly) as behavior that doesn’t come with an understandable cause.

    However, in certain circumstances, hostility may be justified. If a person’s misled you or otherwise treated you badly, there’s no reason to act like they haven’t.

  16. @wfenza: good to see someone understands where I’m coming from. I’m not seeking to make excuses for dickstumping at all. I’m just saying that there *are* circumstances where it can be justified and as such probably *should* be indulged. I can’t possibly have been asked to keep my hurt and anger bottled up.

    For what it’s worth, despite a very bitter and rather one-sided argument, I’ve let her go and have since moved on. And I feel quite justified in being hard on her about it.

  17. @acc How does lying to someone you feel has betrayed you seem like a reasonable reaction? The end of a relationship is not a “betrayal” and since you haven’t been any more precise as to the nature of this rejection, I still think you’re making excuses about being emotionally abusive.

  18. @Bex:

    Lying? Who’s talking about lying? The only liar in my situation was her. After being friends with her for a year (and being in a committed relationship for 6 months of that time), she cheated on me with another man and told me bald-faced lies about it for a full month, when she finally decided to tell me they are “in love.” Is that betrayal enough for you? Is that reason enough to warrant some “emotional abuse” for you? I think so. But don’t worry, we don’t talk anymore.

    Anyway, my dickstumping was aimed *directly* at her, not at all the women of the world. Nevertheless, it read like the OP.

  19. I think we’re having two completely different conversations here. In Acc’s case, where he was in a committed romantic relationship and was cheated on and betrayed by someone he trusted, I (personally) find it reasonable to vent. I’ve written some nasty letters in my time, and I have 1 or 2 ex-lovers from my younger days that I won’t piss on if they were on fire. It doesn’t necessarily make me a nice person but life is complicated.

    That’s different from the OP, who basically said “I’m only interested in being friends with women so they will fuck me. I won’t be transparent about this with the women who believe I’m their friend with no ulterior motive, but will be furious and lash out at these women when they date people who aren’t me. ” That’s just out of line, and it fucks things up for all the awesome men in the world who genuinely love and respect their female friends.

  20. @Angie Tupelo:

    Agreed wholeheartedly. And the commonality between the 2 subjects is rejection. And cheating is the ultimate form of rejection.

    Sorry for derailing the conversation. The pain I experienced in July was *excruciating,* and I was venting all over theh Intarwebz.

    Just don’t let it ever be said that cheating is *very* much possible in polyamorous relationships, and it hurts just as bad as in any other kind of relationship.


    Sorry for being so blunt in my response to you, but I chose to use the word “betrayal,” because I was having a tremendous amount of difficulty accepting that it was in fact “cheating.” I tend to get a little creative with words at times.

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