A few days ago when my son was home for mid-term, we were having a perfectly normal brunch consisting of dinner leftovers when he decided he wanted some juice. For me; first drink of the day has to be some hot beverage so when he asked if I wanted some juice as well, I said no. But he went and brought two glasses anyway and proceeded to tell me he was pouring me some juice anyway in that tone that said very clearly, “I know you want some.”
Now generally people use that tone with me…it doesn’t end well. But for me, there was a lot more at stake here because this was my son and there was just that something familiar that I’ve heard in male voices over the years. That something which says, ‘sure you said no but I know what you want better than you.’
It might seem harmless when it comes to pouring out a glass of juice but then it leaks into other things. It becomes ‘you don’t really mean it when you say no’. It becomes what I want trumps what you want. It becomes…bad things.
So I put my newspaper down and I turned my whole body to look at him and I said, “When I say no, I mean no. I do not want any juice. And when I say this, I want you to apply it not only to me when I say the word ‘no’ but to every single female you will ever meet.’
My son just nodded his head, sat the fuck down and didn’t say a word for about thirty minutes. I think I shocked him. I hope I did; I hope I shocked him hard enough for him to remember my words he next time he hears the word ‘no’ coming out of the mouth of a female.
After that incident, I thought about the talks that people have with their boy children these days and what they entail. Usually there is the ‘keep away from drugs’ talk; the ‘stop watching porn/porn is bad for you’ talk, the ‘use condoms’ talk. But who is having the ‘when a girl says no, you need to take that ‘no’ at face value whether you believe she means it or not’. Who is having that talk? I’m guessing no one. Not parents, teachers, the church, the schools…after all what does it really matter in the greater scheme of things right? The other day I read in the newspaper that a teacher raped a pupil in a school and the school didn’t even bother to inform the parent. Their priority was protecting the teacher. You can’t even trust adults to adult anymore.
When I escape into the world of fiction, I read about these guys who not only pay attention when the girl says no, but even when they’re not sure that the girl is saying yes (as in the ‘no’ is not implicit) they still give her, her space. They go slow, they make sure she’s on board with every step. And I wonder to myself, is it because these characters are mainly written by women or are there really men out there who are capable of putting the interests of their partner first? And if so, where are they? Who is responsible for their rarity? Or are they just rare in my corner of the universe?
In case its just lack of information then can I just say here that for a man to use their superior strength to subdue a woman, to intimidate or extract a yes where a no is the preferred answer is wrong. However, nobody cares about wrong anymore I find so let me put it another way; Its much more enjoyable if both parties are on board; if the yes is from both sides. There, some incentive.
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