No means No- I really hate that saying, I really hate that people use it to describe rape and I really hate the now-possibility that children as young as 5 are going to be taught this lesson.
Before people- assuming I get any comments- start getting defensive and accusing me of something completely untrue I should clarify I few things.
Why do I hate it (no means no) so much?
Because it’s a false saying, one that lulls people into a sense of false security and only heightens the unpleasant so-called ‘grey area’ in rape. What I mean by that is that ‘no means no’ implies that unless no is said or shouted then no rape has taken place. It implies that even if unconscious, asleep or so high on drugs/drink you can barely move, that it’s not rape- all because you haven’t said that little word. It also implies that people can’t be bullied and coerced into sex with manipulation and threats and that again, that isn’t rape.
Not only does this set an awful example to drum into our kids but I truly believe it only adds to ‘victim blaming’ and ‘rape excusal.
At this point I would like to clarify (before people- if again comments) start getting defensive, of course I believe in regretted sex and false accusation. And I’m happy to blog on that some time, however this blog post is not looking into that side of things it’s looking into rape and the fact that ‘no means no’ is a bad lesson to learn.
What would be a better lesson?
‘Yes means yes’, that’s the better lesson. To get consent upfront, to make sure your partner is saying yes and is freely doing so- is giving consent without said yes being forced in any way. To respect each other and wait for that yes, however long it takes.
It’s not, your girlfriend/boyfriend (yes men can be raped and rape is not contained to those in heterosexual relationships) were asleep and you thought-without discussing/warning/talking about the idea and getting consent- surprise sex while they were asleep would be okay because that one little word ‘no’ was not said. The ‘yes’ needs to have been agreed in advance however light the conversation.
It’s not a teenage girl being pressured into sex by her boyfriend because he is embarrassed about the lack of it and uses words and breakup threats to manipulate her emotions and lead her into something she isn’t ready for, getting only reluctance and possibly no yes. As the TV show Waterloo Road nicely covered this, ‘It’s just the same as pushing her against the wall and just taking what *you* want’.
People can argue this til the day is blue saying about ‘well in my relationship we have an understanding’…great, so you’ve got consent, you’ve discussed it, YES HAS BEEN SAID. OR ‘well she should be strong enough to not do it unless she wants to’ in case of the second…sorry doesn’t work when teens are under immense pressure, socially and personally aka they are vulnerable. And when attitudes such as displayed by the boyfriend in Waterloo road are enabled by condoning and not using- unlike the show which did- the very real truth that it’s forcing, pressuring and as good a raping- then she (and may others like her who are being pressured by their partners) may never be strong enough, because they themselves don’t see it as wrong.
At least in Waterloo road when the point was made, the boyfriend understood, was aghast and hadn’t thought of it that way. Which is very true to a real reaction because some kids aren’t being taught this by parents or in school- which is why consent issues and ‘yes means yes’ should be taught in schools.
What age do you think they should be taught-5?
No that’s far too young, it will confuse them. However they need to be taught about ‘stranger danger’ and in an age applicable way they should be taught that if someone touches you in a certain way, hurts you or mistreats you-you should tell a trusted adult. Such as a parent, or if it’s a parent doing it- a teacher.
This message should be reinforced and when kids are first taught sex ed at age 9/10 then consent issues come into it, with the hope that by the time they are teens and under pressure they have the knowledge to deal with it. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. A lack of education to do with consent issues is just as dangerous-if not more- than that of a lack of contraceptive advice.
Personally, I feel kids should be taught and the teaching added to and enhanced while at school regarding consent, and regarding rape and abuse (the latter in later years). To teach our kids not to feel pressured, to teach them to know that someone may well be doing something wrong to them –abuse/neglect etc- we should give our kids the knowledge to have them help us help them.