That ‘something’ is none other than the procedure of having to explain to a male that kind gestures and platonic intentions are in fact, not sexually or romantically derived. Now, I’m in no way being biased against heterosexual men, but it’s safe to say this group of individuals are probably the ones who have the hardest time to when processing the word “No”.
Most of the time these interactions arise from casual encounters with males that you already know or perhaps have just met. They can be classmates, co-workers, or even your own male friends who believe that doing anything remotely nice or going out of their way to show a gesture means they’re entitled to something in return. Take, for instance, my attempt at expanding my studying habits.
While I’ve encountered many heterosexual males who have shown their lack of interest and understanding of the word “no”, the most absurd experience is reserved for one I met my first year of college. This individual, who for the sake of privacy I’ll call Chad, was a classmate of mine who proposed we work on an assignment for class together. Now, I should start by saying that I work better alone when doing any type of school work, but who am I to turn down a person who seems like they’re interested in doing well on the assignment and is friendly at that. To make a long story short, not only did Chad not do the reading for the assignment and was for some strange reason assuming I’d do all the work, but he was also under the impression that this study session would somehow end up moving to his room and into his bed. To say I was dumbfounded is an understatement. I had given no indication that I was interested in him in that way and even proceeded to tell him that I did not want to engage in whatever it was that he was proposed. Not only was he utterly confused, but he then proceeded to ask to get together again every following week. I mean, I can’t make this up. Why did he think this was behavior was normal? Why does anyone? And what does this say about rape culture in our society?
Every year thousands of women are killed by men for saying no. The reason why women will go to various depths to avoid turning down a guy or avoid flat-out rejecting their advances is that there is immense fear as to how they will respond. Which, most often than not, is not well. To make it worse, most of the time when there is violence or rape involved, the perpetrator will hardly be considered at fault. In 2016 a Canadian judge told a woman in a rape case, “why couldn't you just keep her knees together.” These are precisely the reasons as to why such male behavior in our society is not only overlooked, but also normalized.Women should not have to think about how their choice of appearance affects the male gaze, and they should most certainly not have to spell out the difference between being interested and behaving like a normal human being. It is not a woman’s job, or anyone’s job for the matter, to teach an individual the concept of consent and basic social interactions. These things should be learned at home and throughout adolescence. Nevertheless, I will go on the record and clear this up for the many individuals who may seem confused. The word “No” quite literally means just what it sounds like. When a woman or a girl says “no” this does not mean “try harder”.