Friday, 25 January 2013

No doesn't mean no:

Trigger warning: frank discussion of rape and what really happens when someone who is seen as a woman says no.

No doubt you've read this: (if not, you might want to)

But to get back on subject. I was eleven when my supposedly best friend's brother started coming onto me. He was 12-13.

"No" "No, I don't want to date you" "No, I don't want to have sex with you". I said over and over.

He asked again and again for over four hours. That is what you get when you say No clearly and unequivocally.

Then he attempted to force himself on me at the bottom of the garden. I tore away and ran shaking home. This refusal to hear my no, only stopped when his Grandmother walked in on him sexually assaulting me on another day when I was playing with my best friend, he wasn't supposed to be there but he was and she left me with him, I said no again repeatedly, it didn't matter to him. Of course I was the "whore" and my friend was forbidden to play with me, never mind there were questions that he'd sexually assaulted other children on the street, and he'd been investigated for it.

When I was 16. I told a man twice my age repeatedly at a party that I was not interested in his number, no, I didn't want to go for a ride with him. No, I didn't want to date him on Saturday. He followed me from room to room helped by a female accomplice, who physically dragged me over and shoved me at him even when I hid behind my mother, he forced his number into my hand. I threw it away, and was immediately abused as a "slut" and a "whore".

 A year later, a man tried to get me to get into his car and to go for a drink with him. I said "no", he continued to pestering me to get in and I walked away, I was standing right next to a pub, later he was arrested for rape.

Six months later a male friend of a friend gave me a ride home, suddenly he pulled off into the dark local park and started pestering me to get out of the car and "go for a walk with him". I said "no" again and again, I suspect the only reason I wasn't raped then and there was that he was worried about leaving DNA evidence in the car. Eventually he drove me home in a thunderous mood.

Fast forward another year and two male flatmates of a female friend came up to my flat, their flat was out of food and could they get something to eat? I've always been very soft hearted, so I set about getting them something to eat. Next thing I know while holding the food I gave them, they started pestering me to "judge a penis size contest". I said "No", I said it again, I said it to whining, to wheedling to begging, over and over. The only reason nothing more happened was that someone else knocked on the door.

Then in work one day, a coworker who had previously seemed decent asked me for a blow job, I said "no", he asked again reaching for my chest, I stepped back and said "no", he asked me out, I said "no". Rinse repeat until my Nos were cutting off his each sentence. My boss? Felt it was no big deal that I was pestered and in real danger of being raped in his office.

In a store one day, a worker approached me and asked me out. I said No, he circled around and asked again. I left the store and came back later and complained, he no longer works there.

In a library, a man asked me out, I said No, he kept coming back and asking, the answer remained no. When I left the library, he attempted to follow me home. I managed to lose him. Another man did the same thing while I was in a soup kitchen only a few days later.

A man asked me out in the street, I said "No", his response? "oh your boyfriend won't know!" and repeated demands as a I walked away.

Seeing a specialist, I was asked if I wanted X treatment. I said "no", the male doctor told me to lie down on the table for seemingly an examination, he immediately administered X treatment, leaving me injured and in pain. He could have killed me with that treatment.

Other times I have told people not to touch me explicitly, five minutes later, it has been seemingly forgotten as hands are laid on me. Women and men do this.

I am autistic, I do not engage in polite refusal, if I don't want to date/have sex with/do anything, I will say "no" and mean it. My nos are never heeded, the problem has never been what women do or don't say, it will always be Men's refusal to heed it. Women don't listen as well, but men tend to do it when it comes to consent issues. Men will creep on the boundaries, and keep asking in the face of a clear impossible to misunderstand no. So teaching women to say no does nothing while men refuse to heed it.

The notion that men do not understand a no is bullshit, they understand perfect, they simply do not heed it when they want something, regardless of how clear that no is.


  1. this is so very, very true.

    the specifics are different, but you've summed up my life.

  2. First things first, I'm glad someone will outright say this. Most people skate around issues like this, and it's maddening for me, especially since I've spent a lot of my life trying to discourage unwanted (read: most) sexual attention.

    I can agree from experience that to a lot of men and women that no doesn't really mean no to them. What it seems to mean to them is "maybe" or "try harder" or "i'm just saying it to keep you interested," when nothing could be further from the truth for most women (or men).

    The part that also irritates me is that if a woman says no, whether the person listens or not, they tend to classify her as a bitch. If a man says no, he's just exercising his rights; after all, if he doesn't want to sleep with a ugly/annoying/slutty bitch then he doesn't have to!!! Persistent women are given a lot of shit (which I agree with, as when a person says no, it means no) but when men are they aren't being rude or aggressive; they're just being men.