Remember last weekend when he asked for your number? The really loud one that you weren’t that into.
Did you give it to him?
Did you give him the wrong number?
Did you text back?
Because we all know you didn’t say no.
My friend and I were at a party together once. During the course of the night we split up and ended up being hit on by the same person. Talking about it later we realized this. He asked to kiss me and I had said no. When I told her this she was astounded. She proceeded to tell me how she had spent several uncomfortable minutes being hit on and asked the same question by this man until she could slip away.
Why was it so impressive that I could say no?
As I was sharing a similar experience, another friend expressed that she had a hard time doing this too. She had agreed to go home with someone, but as soon as she left the venue with him, she sobered up and realized that she should have said no. Instead of expressing her desire to leave him, she uncomfortably spent the night with him.
It was only after speaking with other girls about how to say ‘no’ that I knew how to. But what does this say about our society that I need to ask for advice on how to say ‘no’ to a man. The sad reality is that we live in a society that does not equally value women. A well known example is the pay gap. If a women is not paid or treated equally, she is less. When this is the case why would a woman feel empowered enough to deny a man’s advances?
We’re not too far removed from years when magazines published articles for women to wait for their husbands to come home, powdered and fresh for him. They implied that a woman should always be ready for her husband’s or man’s free moment to please him. Our society has evolved and learned that a woman isn’t a toy. Now we’re at a period when women know that, but aren’t taught how to say no to men. It’s not even about asserting needs rather than rejecting someone else’s wants that deny our needs.
As I was reflecting on this, I came to a sad reality. While it is NEVER the victim’s fault, I started to think about rapes and how often they may be occurring because a women isn’t comfortable or sure how to verbally decline.
Please hear me when I say that a women is NOT raped because she doesn’t say ‘no.’ It’s as if there is a language barrier that society has raised where she isn’t sure how to verbally decline. Instead she’s stuck with using everything else in her language realm of societal knowledge that protects a man’s ego and silences her cries. It’s not her fault that society has been withholding the intricacies of the grammar and words of this language called rejection and ‘no’s.
There are another two important distinctions to make before I continue. 1. A victim can be scared and paralyzed out of fear, rendering him or her speechless. 2. Consent can be withdrawn non-verbally. Meaning, even if the victim doesn’t say no, they can still express it.
I once watched a video of girl that felt uncomfortable but wasn’t sure how to say ‘no’ to her date’s suggestions. The situation kept escalating and soon she found herself in a bad place. She wasn’t saying ‘no’ outright, but she wasn’t saying ‘yes’ either. While her lack of ‘yes’ should have been enough, imagine how much power she would have in herself if she could say ‘no.’ It may not have changed the outcome in the situation, but at least she could have felt dignified to be able to express herself verbally. Society has stripped her of even this.
I am a firm believer that men should be taught to not rape women and women shouldn’t have to learn how to not be raped. I think what goes overlooked though is a woman’s empowerment. Not only should a woman feel confident that she will not be raped, but she should also feel confident in saying ‘no.’ Let’s speak of women’s rights. If we’re not empowered by society to say ‘no’ to the man that wants our number, are we really free in speech. We can say ‘no’ by law, but if everything in society moves us to acquiescing to men, are we really free to say ‘no’?
Women are victims of rape. They are also victims lacking empowerment. The way to change this is conversation. Talk to other girls about being comfortable with your needs. Practice saying no. Freedom to say what you mean is power. Harness it.
- Sadly, even if a woman is empowered enough to stand her ground and say ‘no,’ her voice will sometime fall on deaf ears and she will still be harassed or raped.
- Women by no means are the only victims of rape and men are not the only perpetrators.
- I have tried to word this well, though if you feel that I am offending any group, please let me know. I stand by my fellow sisters and stand with anyone that has suffered sexual assault. It is never the victims fault.