• Women’s Writes – We all know that no means no…

    Women's Writes

    Okay, yes. The grammar above makes me cringe. But Marie and I tried fruitlessly to come up with a catchy slogan-thing for this and that’s the best thing our brains could find. It’s a play on “women’s rights,” yo. Shut up.


    It’s a big, bad, scary word, no?

    Unfortunately, I don’t even know how to define it any more. Does it mean that a man forces a woman to have sex against her will? Yes. But what constitutes “against her will,” exactly?

    I’ve been reading Yes Means Yes, a collection of essays written by many different authors on the topic of consent. And the Forward? Really got to me. It was written by Margaret Cho, a woman I’ve never been all that fond of. Too much screaming, too much everything. What I never realized though, was how much Margaret and I had in common. And not in any real way. Just in the way that we’re women and there have been some similar situations.

    She wrote about getting raped when she was 14- or 15-years-old. She talked about how she never really let it affect her. She didn’t curl up in a ball and cry or hate sex or refuse to let men touch her or have nightmares. She just went on with her life, as much of a life as it could be at age 15.

    But then, later, the effects of her sexual assault came back to her in strange ways. Particularly, and this is what really got to me, it manifested itself in a very casual attitude about sex. One that I don’t find to be problematic. Except for this: she realized that in her life, she had A LOT of sex that…she didn’t even want to have. She didn’t care about it and sex didn’t mean love to her. Many times, it was just easier to do it than not do it. It was easier to give in and stop trying to push men off or tell them no a dozen times and just have the sex and let it go.

    She talked about turning her mind off, much like we often hear prostitutes and porn stars do. She talked about knowing how to move and say just enough, so that the person she was having sex with would think she was into it. But she wasn’t.

    And I’ve been there. I’ve been in the place where I’ve said no and fended off hands and pushed off kisses and said no and said no and said no. And finally? I gave up. It was easier to just do it.

    This is especially problematic when it’s someone you have already had sex with. It’s like, as a man, he feels like once he’s been inside you, he has the right to do so whenever he pleases.

    Now, almost all of these times, I said no. More than once. But was I raped? Probably not. Because I gave in. I finally DIDN’T say no. But I didn’t say yes. Or if I did, I said it in such an exasperated exhausted way that I’m puzzled as to why these men would even WANT to have sex.

    If I were trying to have sex with someone, an exasperated eye-roll and a “fine, just do it” wouldn’t really be enough to get me excited. Why is that enough for men? Why wouldn’t they WANT an emphatic yes and excited participation?

    And the real question, is “not no” really “yes”? Legally, it probably is. But when two people are engaging in sex, I argue that it shouldn’t be.

    Our “blame the victim” attitude about rape is a HUGE part of the problem. Statistics will tell you that the number of rape victims is going down, but that will never account for all the rapes that aren’t reported because the woman who was raped doesn’t really know if she was raped or not. And she doesn’t want to go through the questions and the judgment and scrutiny that comes with reporting a rape.

    I read an article that said that while a large percentage of rape victims are women, in fact 99% of rapes are committed by men.

    So men? It’s up to you. Because we’re no longer going to feel like it was our fault because we stayed out late or walked home by ourselves or drank one too many drinks or wore that low-cut top. None of those things make rape happen. RAPISTS do.

    And I can’t sit here and tell you that having sex with a girl when she doesn’t really want to, but doesn’t say anything at all, is or isn’t rape. I CAN tell you that we are much better and more fun in bed when we actually WANT TO BE IN BED WITH YOU. So next time? Why don’t you make sure she really WANTS to have sex.

    Links to other awesome Women’s Writes posts!

    Marie’s Pushing Back

    M. Grace’s I am a Woman. I have issues.

    Travis’s My Y Chromosome Contribution

    Losing It’s What I believe

    DJ’s Baby I got your money

    Jeney Peney’s Use Your Voice

    Alice’s Clinic Escorting

    Hannah, just breathe’s Women’s Writes

    Lbluca77’s Let’s talk about sex…education.

    Liebchen’s Speaking Up

    Brad’s Let’s give ’em something to talk about.

    Rachel’s Birth on our Own Terms.

    Shine, Marie, Rachel, and Natalie on In It To Gym It: Women’s Writes – How the ‘ideal woman’ makes me feel.

    Rachel Smiles’ Women’s Writes

    Graygrrrl’s When the Past Meets the Present.

    Single Grrrl’s I am woman. I emote.

    Carissa’s A Weighty Issue

    Sketch’s Sex Talk: A Hsitory

    Mindy’s But it’s not the 1950s…

    Miss Randell’s Teaching in 2010

    Phronk’s Abortion — Yeah, that sounds weird. He’s not having one or giving one. Just talking about it.

    Emily’s Stop Means No

    April’s Poisonous Mixtures and the Part Where People Start Taking my Advice!

    Mary’s Birth Control and Reproduction

    Zoe’s Pushing Back

    Natalie’s His What Goes WHERE?!

    Mikael’s A Need to Know

    Michelle’s My Right to Bone

    Antje’s A Picture that Invokes a Few 1000 Words

    Animal Crackers’ Women’s Writes

    Meg’s Let’s Talk About (Safe) Sex, Baby!

    City Girl’s We Won’t Go Back


  1. Travis says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this. Very well put.
    .-= Travis´s last blog ..Women’s Writes: My Y Chromosome Contribution. =-.

  2. Lisa says:

    I asked some of my male co-workers about the “oh fine, just go ahead and do it” thing just a few days ago. I thought that would be a turn off, who wants sex with someone that’s all huffy “I guess I will” about it? According to those two, that’s great. They don’t have to work! They don’t have to snuggle! You can get back to watching the game!

    Seriously? They want it SO bad, but are glad she doesn’t really want it, cause they don’t have to put out as much effort?

    • shine says:

      It’s such a bizarre notion to me. I don’t understand at all why you’d want to have sex with someone who wasn’t really interested.

  3. Alice says:

    it’s so infuriatingly true that once a guy has been in there once, he somehow feels like it’s his “right” to make return visits. like he’s had his hand stamped, and now he never has to show his ID or pay cover any more.

    lisa’s comment is mind-boggling too. they like it BETTER when they’ve got someone who would rather not be having sex!? omg. dudes. you can do better than this. i know you can.
    .-= Alice´s last blog ..women’s writes: clinic escorting =-.

  4. Marie says:

    Bottom line, if a woman says NO they need to leave it at just that. NO. Why? Because NO means NO. It doesn’t mean “yes” or “maybe” or “let me think about it a bit more as you keep nagging me on and on.”

    IT MEANS NO. I wish they would get it through their heads.

    Great post lady.
    .-= Marie´s last blog ..Women’s Writes-Pushing Back =-.

    • shine says:

      I know some women use it as a game. But not all women do that. When I say no? I really mean “I don’t want to at all, but I’m refraining from kicking you in the balls because I’m a nice person.”

  5. Hannah says:

    If a woman says “no” once, then that’s it. No other subsequent answer matters, because the first and strongest answer was, simply, NO.

    Really wonderful post. And really, REALLY wonderful that you and Marie organized this day! Thank you! :)
    .-= Hannah´s last blog ..Women’s writes. =-.

    • shine says:

      I don’t know if I can completely agree with that. I think it IS possible to change your mind. But it shouldn’t be because you’ve been pestered into it.

      I also think you can change your mind in the other direction and if you do, you shouldn’t be called names or judged. Sometimes? You just change your mind.

  6. Phronk says:

    At least it’s a vast minority of men who think like this. I hope so anyway. Like, I cannot even vaguely fathom how it would be appealing to screw someone who’s anything less than enthusiastic about it.

    I think we need to be careful about seeing rape where there isn’t rape (a false accusation can damage a life too), and the whole willingly giving in thing is a big grey area. But it’s just horrible that anything like that can happen. Sex doesn’t need to be a magical life changing experience every time, but it should at least be fun for both people involved.
    .-= Phronk´s last blog ..The Horrors of Internet Dating, Volume 6 =-.

    • shine says:

      Oh, I agree. And I’m not in any way calling rape here. But I think it’s important to point out the difference between “not no” and “yes.”

      False accusations of rape really and truly disgust me. But the problem is that usually only the two people involved know what really happened. And they can, in fact, have a very different perception of what happened. And the “I didn’t understand” defense from men also makes me want to puke.

      • Phronk says:

        Me too. It’s not hard to understand; treat women like they’re people. This doesn’t suddenly change when a guy gets a boner. Every guy knows this, and if they choose to ignore it, they deserve whatever increasingly (and rightly so) harmful consequences their actions bring about.
        .-= Phronk´s last blog ..The Horrors of Internet Dating, Volume 6 =-.

    • shine says:

      I also think this is a LOT more common than you think. A LOT. Not that women are getting raped, but that they’re giving in to sex when they don’t really want it because it’s easier to do it than to not do it.

      None of this is to say that I think women don’t WANT sex a lot. I think we do. But I really think that often times, we’re walking that fine line between being called a slut and being called a tease or frigid or a prude or whatever. And sometimes it’s just easier to say yes, because sex ISN’T always a magical life changing experience. We don’t even really talk about it, because who wants to admit that they just gave up?

      • Phronk says:

        I hope you’re wrong about how common it is, but sad that you’re probably right. I suppose it’s hard to judge objectively from a man’s perspective, since like you said, most recipients of this pressure are female, and the guys who perpetuate it (who I still hope are the minority) either don’t talk about it or don’t generally associate with those who don’t.

        But people like you, talking about this openly, certainly helps to make progress. It’s not gonna change if it’s not out in the open.
        .-= Phronk´s last blog ..The Horrors of Internet Dating, Volume 6 =-.

  7. i love this idea and i love that you’re doing it. excellent post. next time (there’s a next time, right?) i’d really like to contribute, i’m in a funk lately.
    .-= mylittlebecky´s last blog ..women’s writes =-.

    • shine says:

      Oh there will be a next time. I’ll be sure to let you know ahead of time!

      I’m in a funk myself.

  8. lbluca77 says:

    I agree that one of the reasons rape statistics are going down is because women don’t report it because they are afraid of being judged for past sexual behaviors. Even if a woman is dressed in a slutty manner men can’t look at that as if she was holding a sign that says please rape me. I think part of trying to change this problem starts with men (not all men) learning that no still means no whether you have had sex with this person before or not. Just simply saying no should be the end of that discussion.

    • shine says:

      I agree. And I agree that it does kind of need to start with men. We need to be teaching little boys to respect little girls.

  9. Graygrrrl says:

    This blog came out great! It’s important for “no” to mean “no” immediately. Wearing the person down isn’t sexy or impressive.

    On a side note: while risque clothing and attitudes doesn’t give someone permission to rape you, ladies- wake up and realize what you’re putting out there. If you don’t like to get oogled, cover up a bit. I know when my “personality” is on display that I’ve going to get attention, but I make sure it’s of the look but do not touch variety.

    Great job shine!
    .-= Graygrrrl´s last blog ..Women’s Writes- When the Past meets the Present =-.

    • shine says:

      I agree that we can certainly be held accountable for our actions. And that we can make smarter and safer choices. But no matter what I do, wear, or say, the thing that makes rape happen is the RAPIST.

  10. Meg says:

    I think this is a lot more common than people think, and it needs to be talked about more! I can think of a couple of times it’s happened to me, and while I don’t feel I was “raped” I definitely feel like I was taken advantage of, and that these males shouldn’t think it’s right to brow-beat women into submission.
    .-= Meg´s last blog ..Notes to myself =-.

  11. Sketch says:

    This is why I love you. Thank you for talking about sex and rape in real terms. This very topic is a huge fear of mine, and I don’t know what we as women do to stand up for ourselves. I will be practicing my “NO!”, but men have a responsibility to listen.
    .-= Sketch´s last blog ..Women’s Writes- Sketch’s Sex Talks: A History =-.

    • shine says:

      I agree. I think saying no should be enough. I should have to say it, make jokes about it, laugh it off, say no some more, push your hand away, turn my head when you try to kiss me, etc.

      But they think it’s some kind of game. I also think if men waited for an emphatic “YES!” we might all be having better sex.

  12. I love, love, love this post. Shocking, I know. 😉

    I think it’s so important for women to be able to talk about this situation (and the threat of rape in general) because I don’t think men (in particular) realize how vulnerable women can be to finding themselves in this spot. We’re encouraged to be confident, driven, independent women, and yet we have this very real threat lurking in the background of every social interaction with the opposite sex. (This is not to say that every dude is a predator, but when you’re “on the market,” how well do you really know the person with whom you’re sharing a drink or making out on the hood of their car? Hypothetically.)
    .-= Natalie Cottrell´s last blog ..We’ve got some issues. =-.

    • shine says:

      Hypothetically, of course.

      Yeah, I wouldn’t call this rape. But I would call it “really lousy sex.” I will never understand why men don’t WANT women to WANT to have sex with them.

  13. carissa says:

    Wow lady. This is some powerful stuff. I wish that I could say that I haven’t been there, more than once -but I have. Even recently, I questioned whether or not it was rape. I don’t really remember what happened, so I’ve gone back and forth between it being my fault because I drank too much… and blaming him for taking advantage of the situation. Either way, it really has shaken me to the core and has really made me change my behavior when I go out… But still. I’ve definitely come out of sexual experiences where I have said “no” before finally giving in. I definitely have felt violated. And I definitely think guys need to take note that just because someone doesn’t scream “rape” their advances sometimes aren’t too far off.
    .-= carissa´s last blog ..Winners for the What If This CD… Had Lyrics? Giveaway!! =-.

    • shine says:

      I agree. And I DO think we need to be responsible and make smarter choices, but even if we don’t? We aren’t in any way excusing or asking for someone to rape us. The rape apologist bullshit has gone too far.

      If a woman is too drunk to say no? That does NOT mean she said yes.

  14. Just A Girl says:

    I’ve given in before. It’s only recently that I’ve stopped. If I don’t want it, I DON’T WANT IT. Even with someone I care about immensely, if I’m not in the mood, no amount of groping hands and attempts to MAKE me want it is going to change that. But it’s still hard to say no and then walk away sometimes…
    .-= Just A Girl´s last blog ..What I’m about to tell you is totally true and in no way related to April Fool’s day =-.

    • shine says:

      I agree. Like I said, I am far too guilty of this. And it’s something that’s going to change starting yesterday. I just won’t stand for it any more.

  15. April says:

    I think somehow taking responsibility for the situation makes it hurt less, but I’ll be honest…I’d never once considered how jacked up it is that guys will just take a “not no” as a good enough answer. Or worse? That I’m willing to let it happen because of a not no. I don’t know if I consider it rape, but I certainly don’t consider it okay anymore. I can only think of one time I really genuinely said no and was asked SO many times that I finally said, “fine, I’ll lay here”. It was horrible. It may not be rape, but it left a scar like no other. I love this message and I hope men AND women listen to it and take it to heart. Not no, is NOT okay.
    .-= April´s last blog ..Poisonous mixtures and the part where people start taking my advice! =-.

  16. Mikael says:

    Interesting about the “not no”… That’s messed up if guys still want to do something with a girl who doesn’t say yes and does it just to get it over with. I’d punch a guy in the balls (if not worse) if he tried to push me farther than I wanted.

    A link to my post for today is right below. Thanks again for talking about all this, Shine!
    .-= Mikael´s last blog ..Womens Writes~ A Need to Know =-.

    • shine says:

      And I hope you would. But sometimes it’s harder than you think. And it’s especially hard for young girls. Because they want to be cool and sexy and such. And we’re always walking that fine line between “slut” and “prude.”

  17. brad says:

    “No” doesn’t even have to be said. Even when sex isn’t love, it should still be intimate, in the sense that it’s some kind – any kind – of connection between people (as opposed to literally walking up to a stranger and banging in an alley without even making eye contact). And so if it doesn’t feel like that minimum, that absence of feeling is the “no.”

    “No” means “no,” but there are a lot of other signs that mean “no,” too. And if a man ignores each of them, at the very least, he deserves a prison cell.

    • shine says:

      Unfortunately, LEGALLY, you do have to say no. And even then? You’ll probably catch some of the blame and your abuser will likely barely get punished.

      I do think that there are many things that mean “no,” but any man with half a brain can argue that he didn’t understand. So it’s much better to teach little girls that it’s okay to say “no.” And teach little boys that “no” doesn’t mean “try harder.”

  18. Dan says:

    Rape isn’t something I like to talk about much, as important as it might be to do so. I experienced some severe sexual abuse and in my teens and early to mid 20’s I had to help some female friends deal with the aftermath of a rape, or had the good luck to interrupt a rape before it had occurred, or, worse luck, interrupted a rape in progress. I don’t like rape, I don’t like the idea of someone forcing themselves on someone else. Even when it’s a ‘fine, just do it’ in the end, it’s still not right. But that also happens to men. Sometimes we get tired of saying no when we’re not in the mood and we just give in as well, just to stop being pestered about it. The belief that men just want sex all the time and are always in the mood is garbage. The right to say no and mean it applies to both sexes, I just think that, unfortunately, men are in a better position to make sure that when we say no we mean it.
    I am most definitely not trying to take away what women have experienced when it comes to rape and the ‘not no’ form of sex, I just thought I’d mention another side of it as well.
    And the ‘not no’ sex? Who wants that? Seriously, who wants to be inside someone who just gave up? Makes no sense no matter what explanation is given…..

    • shine says:

      I agree. And I know that men must deal with this as well…but it was Women’s Writes day, not Women’s and Men’s Writes day. That’s basically the only reason that I made it so one-sided.

      I feel like in a relationship, everyone compromises and has sex when they might not feel like it. Rape can still happen in a relationship, certainly, but sometimes we do things we don’t really feel like doing (at that moment) for people we care about. But the more casual hook-up is a free-for-all. And I don’t know why anyone would want to have sex with someone they barely know if the enthusiasm level was somewhere around “I have to go to the dentist on my lunch break.”

      Trust me, I in no way meant to imply that men want it all the time. Plenty of men don’t. Some men do. Some women do, some don’t. The belief that women have to be the gate keepers to their vaginas all the time and all pressure is on them to say no is also garbage. But there we are.

  19. andhari says:

    I love this post. I’ve been in a relationship for around two years and not that I wanna trash my boyfriend but there were more than several occasions when I just gave in even when I didn’t really want it. It’s easier to just do it and hope it’s over quick so I can go to sleep or something.

    Men tend to get cranky and being a bit rude when they’re denied sex by their girlfriends too. Ugh.

  20. LiLu says:

    You are amazing. For serious. And so, SO right.
    .-= LiLu´s last blog ..The End of a (Gross) Era =-.

  21. animalcrackers says:

    I’m so lucky to have someone who UNDERSTANDS this concept of the unverbalized “no”. I haven’t always been, and I wish I could say that I didn’t give in. Thank you for writing this, it’s awesome.

    • shine says:

      I really wanted to write something that people don’t talk about all the time. It’s just something to all be aware of, that happens more than we think.

  22. Kelly L says:

    This is a great post and a great project. The downside is, of course, that now I am all agitated and fired up, but, you know. This happens easily for me when any of these subjects come up.

    Let me know if you decide to do this again, I would be happy to contribute. In the meantime, I am going to finish reading all of the other entries for this.


  1. Women’s Writes-Pushing Back « Marie's Blog Cafe
  2. DCBlogs » DC Blogs Noted
  3. First a thank you, then we’re going to talk about me. M’kay? « shine out loud
  4. Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters; Giveaway! « Just a Lost Soul Swimmin' in a Fish Bowl
  5. First Installment of Femme Writes – April 5, 2010 « Femme Writes
  6. Beauty and the Bitch » The one where we get pissed off
  7. Beauty and the Bitch » Don’t forget!

Leave a comment

CommentLuv badge