Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The irrational fear of no

Too many men and women alike are afraid of the word "no". Men are afraid to hear it, and therefore avoid behaving in any manner that might cause them to hear it. Women, on the other hand, are afraid to take responsibility for saying it.
Twenty-five years after I registered for college, we're still searching for an alternative to the stark simplicity of "No."  And unfortunately, there's just no substitute. If you want to "teach men not to rape" -- a formulation that floated around the Internet a lot in the days after the Rolling Stone story was published -- then you need to give them a rule that can be clearly articulated, and followed even if you've had a few.

That's why "no means no" worked so well, even if it wasn't perfect. It's a heuristic that even a guy who's been sucking at the end of a three-story beer funnel can remember and put into practice. The rule obviously needed some refinement, by adding other equally clear rules -- like "if she's stumbling drunk or vomiting, just pretend she said no, because she's not legally capable of consent." But the basic idea, of listening to what the woman is saying, not some super-secret countersignals you might think she is sending, is exactly the sort of rule that we need in the often-confusing, choose-your-own-adventure world of modern sexual mores.

Compare that with "we're in the red zone." What does that mean? It seems to me that a guy can take this one of two ways: either as "no," or as something less than "no," something which means that there's still hope and he should consider asking again in 15 minutes. If it means "less than no, but maybe more than yes," then we haven't fixed things; we've just added another layer of confusion.

But I don't think that's what Dominus is after. I think what she's actually seeking is a way to deliver a definite refusal without having to say the word "no." And being of that same generation of women, one that often goes to absurd lengths to avoid even mild refusals, such as declining to purchase goods or services we don't want, I certainly wish that there were a reliable way to deliver the message without saying the words.

But as millions of time-share owners can attest, there is no substitute for a clear "no."  My generation has spent decades trying to make things sound less unpleasant by coining new words to replace the older, harsh-sounding ones. The result of this "euphemism treadmill," as Steven Pinker has dubbed it, is not that everyone moves to a new, higher plane, free of the old unpleasantness; it's that the new word takes on all the disagreeable connotations of the old one, and then people start looking for a new euphemism.
For women, there is no substitute for the word no. To refuse, you must take responsibility for the refusal. One cannot act without acting, and without an actor there is no action. You cannot be a strong or independent woman without being able to both say no and accept the responsibility intrinsic in doing so.

Remember, the only woman who doesn't need to say no from time to time is the woman who is unwanted and ignored.

And for men, there is no substitute for taking the risk that may lead to you hearing the word "no". It is nothing to be afraid of, and the faster you hear it, the faster you can proceed to other, more promising situations where you will hear "yes".

36 comments:

Earl Thomas said...

'All you need to say is simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.'

Matthew 5:37

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Every 'no' means you're one step closer to a 'yes'.

Take risks, learn to handle rejections, and move on to the next one.

Tank said...

Compare that with "we're in the red zone." What does that mean?

You're passed the 20 yard line and about to SCORE !!!

Earl Thomas said...

'Compare that with "we're in the red zone." What does that mean?

You're passed the 20 yard line and about to SCORE !!! '

Yeah it means your chances of scoring a touchdown are higher, a field goal should be possible...and if you turn the ball over with haphazard play it stings even worse.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

I thought "we're in the red zone" meant rain delay.

cailcorishev said...

But I don't think that's what Dominus is after. I think what she's actually seeking is a way to deliver a definite refusal without having to say the word "no."

That's just the tip of the iceberg. Yes, she wants to be able to refuse without saying no. But she also wants:

To be able to say "no" and mean "Seduce me more." (The classic "Don't, don't, don't....stop, don't stop, don't stop" scenario, which the feminists say is rape justification, but that doesn't make it any less realistic.)
To say "no" and mean "Not yet, but try again later."
To say "no" and mean "Yes, but I don't want to feel like a slut later, so I want to be able to tell myself you pressured me."
To say "yes" and mean "But I'm not sure, so I reserve the right to say I was drunk/pressured/raped later."
To say nothing and make up her mind about it later.

The truth is that sex -- even between long-married couples, but especially between people who just met or have had a couple dates -- is emotional and intense and sometimes scary. It's common to want to fuck someone so badly in the moment that you can feel it in your toes -- and then regret it five minutes afterwards. That's just how it works. Sex will never be the dry, casual transaction, subject to simple guidelines, that the left wants to make it. It will never be possible to make it safe and clean the way conservatives want to help them make it.

So all these "this means that" attempts are simply an attempt, in the short run, to fix blame; and in the long run, to take the humanity -- the beauty, the excitement, the surrender, the love -- out of sex entirely, the way they've tried to take it out of art and other aspects of life.

Earl Thomas said...

I like clearly defined boundaries. Sex is a marital act for a reason.

If she marries you, she is consenting to sex with you.

If she isn't married to you, she may say yes, no, maybe so, or any other 1,000 variations...but the absolute truth is it's still a no.

8to12 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
8to12 said...

"Paula responded...the clearer my no was, the more I would feel released from guilt--I had fulfilled my obligation by saying a super-clear no....It was right after I said a super-clear no that if a guy persisted, he'd get somewhere." - Why Men are the Way They Are, page 130

Despite being a 30 year old book, the info it contains still rings true (actually I'm impressed how many red-pill concepts are clearly described in the book, even though the author uses different names for them).

It talks about the push-pull game women play. Where they pull a man in a little yes, then push him away with a no. His part of the game is to push past a no. The author believes this is a mechanism women use to avoid rejection and to control the situation.

Brian C. said...

"teach men not to rape" Oh Lord. What a stupid statement.

Brian C. said...

@8to12 thats brillant

Iowahine said...

Another reason the game stuff is enlightening to me is - as I've yammered about before - I was reared by parents born before 1920, one of whom was a rigid Catholic. There was no equivocation in our home about the meaning of "no," including that as an unmarried female, I was under strict orders to issue that word in response to sexual advances. It had only one meaning to me then and now, so to learn that many females play the no, no, yes game infuriates me, as does the whole nonsense about rape culture. What a load of BS and how it weakens the legitimate claims of those males and females who are forced to have sex for fear of safety or their lives, and I don't mean "safe from bad feelings."

SarahsDaughter said...

"No means no" is a good enough rule. It is not good enough to defeat every psychopath who is willing to use drugs or a man's superior strength to take what is not offered freely, but it is certainly good enough to defeat a "rape culture" that says women don't really know what they want, or deserve to have their desires respected.

Good to see the recognition that men have superior strength. What still doesn't make sense is for women to desire to leave the protection patriarchy once offered them and rely on the protection of the threat of "fierce punishment," as the author calls it, via the State.

sysadmn said...

If women want no to mean no, they're going to have to stop using it to mean "yes, but I'm not a slut".

grendel said...

"It will never be possible to make it safe and clean the way conservatives want to help them make it."

I'm not sure I follow you here. Marital sex seems safe and clean to me.

Natalie said...

@Iowahine - that's the way I was raised too. I have two younger brothers, and I grew up wrestling with both of them. I learned a couple of things doing that. 1. Guys are stronger. At 12 and 8 we might have been fairly evenly matched. Maybe. 2. No means no. We said no, and they had to stop. 3. If I said no and then tried to use it to my advantage (ie catch them off guard) that was a HUGE no-fly in my house. You only say no when you want the fun to start. Just like you only yell "help" in the water if you mean it. Its not funny or a trick or a game - these words mean something and should be used appropriately.

Natalie said...

Paging Dr. Freud - "You only say no when you want the fun to STOP" Wow, I'm a clumsy fingers today.

8to12 said...

Maybe we should come up with a new standard: stop means no.

Men have been trained by women to recognize that "no means yes, maybe, or try harder" for generations. "Yes means yes" and "no means no" will never work in the real world, because of the way women use the word no.

"Stop means no" would solve that. Like a safe word, it would signal to everyone involved a clear, single meaning, instead of the double meaning way women use the word "no."

cailcorishev said...

I'm not sure I follow you here. Marital sex seems safe and clean to me.

Ask a feminist about "marital rape" sometime. They don't consider sex in marriage to be safe at all, and most conservatives, if pressed ("What if he insists on sex while she has the flu?"), would agree with them.

My point is, both of them want to make sex something less than it is, taking out the aspects that bother them. Feminists want to make it a casual pleasure, like eating a chocolate bar, which people can engage in with no more emotional effect than there is for livestock. If you're horny, you find someone else who's horny and consenting, and you take care of each other. Maybe you and that person make a habit of it for a while, or maybe you move on and find someone else the next time, but you certainly don't bring lifetime commitments and religion into it.

Conservatives want to sanitize it in a different way. Check out the stuff that's developed from John Paul's Theology of the Body, where people insist that marital sex is a holy gift and reflects God's glory. Which is true -- but it's also dirty and vulgar. By putting all the emphasis on the sacramental side, they get couples who don't enjoy it much because they're trying to have "good" sex, and things like spanking and dirty talk don't seem to fit into that. And just like the feminists, they make women the final arbiters of whatever happens -- in this case because they consider women the more spiritual sex.

Feminists try to take the spirit out of sex, just leaving the matter. The conservatives I'm talking about try to take the matter out of sex, just keeping the spirit. It needs both, if it's going to be very good.

Brad Andrews said...

This is really all just one big excuse to not take responsibility. You wouldn't have to worry about vague wording if you stayed out of such situations in the first place.

A true rapist won't give a hoot about whether you say "yes" or "no". This is all just an excuse to not have to live with the consequences and really nothing more.

Corvinus said...

It had only one meaning to me then and now, so to learn that many females play the no, no, yes game infuriates me, as does the whole nonsense about rape culture.

@Iowahine
As a high Delta and former Omega, I now know a woman's "no" plus buying signals means "not right now". Men may mean it to mean "never", but women don't seem to. As a matter of fact, women don't even need to use the word "no" to indicate "never". All they need is to keep a certain distance, which says everything loud and clear.

Owen said...

A true rapist won't give a hoot about whether you say "yes" or "no".

Exactly.

This isn't about, to borrow the words from a wise philosopher, "rape rape."

It's about criminalizing and controlling men and giving women a "get out of slut free" card.

Earl Thomas said...

'Feminists try to take the spirit out of sex, just leaving the matter. The conservatives I'm talking about try to take the matter out of sex, just keeping the spirit. It needs both, if it's going to be very good.'

True...however I think feminists leave out the spirit because it's one that nobody wants to be attached to. Conservatives are just way too prudish for their own good that they don't know where the boundaries are at.

jimmy-jimbo said...

We used to protect women from having to say yes or no. That is no longer possible.

Doom said...

I don't know. I thought, for a while, it was "no" that I feared. After some consideration, it is a "yes" that I actually fear. It isn't even that a dame is a lot of work, though she is. It's not that kids are life-changers, but they are. All add fragility, but... like I don't know that in truth on my own already. No, a yes means taking responsibility.

That, my friend, is what I fear. It's a collar that will never come off. It might change shape, color, tightness... I might get used to it, go through stages with it, even learn to like it. But it will never go away. And yet, I am probably going to ask. If I am hoping for a no. I will attempt to push past it, configure the setting, and change that to a yes. But don't think I don't have some hope for a flat, or even drawn out, rejection. A no, if I give it my full weight, will mean I get to... rest until peace.

Iowahine said...

Doom.

Children are the best game-changer ever. If you've yet not known this confounding joy, I pray you do. In my very limited understanding of scripture, it might be all He, in the end, commands us to do. God Bless and Happy New Year!

LP 999/Eliza said...

Yes, if she says no, not interested - whatever - her loss! Shake the girl tree as our host would say. The brain kicks fear, nothing to fear.

I've said no and skirted the issue, avoidance, all that. I've attempted to take responsibility but its like the more I speak the worse I make things. So hitting 35, single, zero hope of...

What happened is that I was dragged out of the house kicking and screaming inside but looking fine on the exterior appearance for a lunch date. It was an immediate red flag I turn down eating. Then he had a ton of questions for me, I started stuttering, getting anxiety and ran out. It was brutal on my part, I went from a good status to a lowest of the low status in appearance. I starting sweating with all the questions, I am no good at any ofthis..

He emailed me and said I am crazy and wished me good will in the future minus him. Rational, good men dont want a woman with problems who cannot cope to even explain them. I attempted to explain and he said he is on to another woman. I said, liar. He said, ok, its not true but leave me be. So its grand.

The next day at another gym I frequent he was there and said I am crazy, overwhelming, bulimic and have fake breasts. Pro-Mia/Bulimia is a no-no, never did that. I am real but I'd opt for liposuction. Crazy isn't something I was going to argue. I am overwhelmingly stressful at times. I didn't defend myself, just worked out and left.

I am not fighting with the man. The date revealed a little projection, he is ex-marine, hardworking, not a bad person at all, just near the mark in mini observations about me. War fatigue/PTSD, spent a few years in Iraq, not fighting with that. And its 5'12, cannot fight with taller men, that is scary.

Life is Life.

LP 999/Eliza said...

Doom, you are alright.

Equals worries but your character appears too smart and good, you'll be fine.

Earl Thomas said...

Taking responsibility is a fearful proposition. That's why faith is the only counter to fear.

glad2meetyou said...

Just say "no, thank you." It has the word No in it, it's polite, and it's quick.

LP 999/Eliza said...

Well, things turned uglier. I failed here and could have taken some kind of better responsibility for my actions. My intentions were wrong from the start. I wanted to prove he was not nice, in doing so I was unable to control my social anxiety or how uncomfortable I got at playing 20 questions. I dont even belong in the Game.

Today, I took a small late day walk at the trail. He was there biking and stopped to tell me off.

Fortunately for me, he is not the nice, nice, nice guy he kept on repeating. He continued to assert how rude I was and how I lack self-control in public by melting down into a sweat panic as he interrogated why I wasn't eating and a host of other intrusive question. I told him, "you are right about every single thing you say, live in willful deception about me, you make me nervous, I ask you nothing, you are not nicey-nice. Most importantly, why are you stopping your life to tell me off when you told me to have a nice life minus you? This is new years day, its a holiday, leave me alone."

I should have faked a sore throat and said nothing, truly, every time I talk I just make things worse. At the very beginning of all this the red flag was there, "Oh, I am a really nice guy, I am nice, I am nice, me, me, me."

Jason Lee said...

"8to12 said...
Maybe we should come up with a new standard: stop means no."

I agree. "No" can be disorienting as hell in the heat of the moment.

NO...what??

"No... condom"? "No... I forgot my pill, give me a sec"? "No... I forgot to lock the door"? "No... you're squeezing the sore one"? "No... do it harder"?

Seriously. "STOP" is infinitely less ambiguous. If you feel like you're about to get raped and you want to make your wishes abundantly clear, a cease and desist order is much better than an undefined, unclarified "no."

totenhenchen said...

The problem here isn't that men don't know that "no means no," it's that we do and women know we do. This means that when a woman says "no," she is not only rejecting sexual advances, she is cutting off male attention and validation by doing so. When a man hears a flat and unambiguous "no," even the most abject of us will, sooner or later, expend our energies elsewhere.

This hand-wringing over the word "no" is simply a woman coming to grips with the fact that she can't eat her cake and have it, too.

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