No Doesn’t Mean No Until You Say It Twice – Part I

20 Jul
Not too long ago, a friend and I were gossiping and dishing about our recent life adventures, as we often do. He started telling me about his weekend and a night out dancing with a past hook-up:On the dance floor, he kissed her, but she didn’t kiss back and she told him she “couldn’t.” So my friend said okay and backed off. But as the night went on, they continued dancing, and she started, “dancing into,” him. Taking this as a cue, my friend went in for the kiss again. This time, she kissed him back and the night ended at her place.

When I heard this story I was dumbfounded. Our conversation went something like this:

ME:  You kissed her again?!

HIM: Well, yeah.

ME:  Yeah, because no doesn’t mean no until you say it twice.

HIM: Whoa. It was a kiss. It’s not like I… you know. I would never do that.

This conversation has posed two questions in my mind, both of which I leave to your debate:1. Is consent necessary for sexual advancement outside of “P-in-V”** intercourse?
I mean, I acknowledge the blatant degree of difference between a kiss and sex, but doesn’t that whole “no means no” statute hold up in any case of advancement? And,

2. Was this girl, or are women in general, participating in a subconscious game of “cat and mouse,” which encourages male persistence and female coyness?
Are women hesitant to connect with their desires because they’ve been conditioned to think it would make them “slutty,” “easy,” or “taken advantage of”?  Are women playing into society’s acceptance of relentless male persistence by “holding out” at first until they finally “give in”… perhaps not so much to their admirer as to their own underlying desires?

**Ugh, gag me.* Don’t even get me started on the perceived illegitimacy of all. other. sexual acts besides this one.

*Ex. Proper verbal consent to bondage.

This post brought to you by Kelsey 

7 Responses to “No Doesn’t Mean No Until You Say It Twice – Part I”

  1. Chloe H July 20, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    Okay. THE ANSWER IS YES: Enthusiastic consent is required for every sexual interaction, at every step of the game, ALL THE TIME. Consent should be a running conversation, not a one-shot-then-you’re-good game.

    LET ME BE CLEAR: Kissing someone without their consent IS SEXUAL ASSAULT.

    It is no less insidious and traumatizing than “p-in-v” rape (p-in-v? wtf?).

    There is no such thing as “reading the signs”. The fact of the matter is, that guy was lucky that when he kissed her, she kissed back. What should have happened (ESPECIALLY after a clear previous expression of “no”) was a brief, clarifying conversation about what was okay. Assumptions are dangerous and insulting.

    It is getting increasingly tiresome to read feminist appropriations of the typical patriarchal argument that women are “asking for it” in some subconscious, little-did-they-know kind of way. The fact of the matter is that women learn pretty quickly that the entirety of their self-worth is tied up in their sexuality. Maybe this woman became more comfortable with her own desires and what transpired was a fully consensual, erotic experience. I hope so. But maybe this woman had a couple of drinks and was taken advantage of.

    If this event happened in NY, well, that’s not consensual either.

    If we’re spreading around blame here, I think we should talk about the level of education and awareness surrounding sex and what it is. Sex is not the activity of penetration – sex is the expression of consent. This is a verbal and social conversation that is not happening, and it’s handicapping every single one of our sexual interactions, no matter who we are – regardless of our gender, age, or sexuality.

    • Dawn July 20, 2011 at 10:52 am #

      Chloe, I’ve got to say that I agree completely and I love love love this explanation. I was working on how to express the idea that consent is absolutely necessary at, as you say, “every step of the game.”

      Thank you for articulating this so well and putting words to my thoughts. 🙂

      • Chloe H July 20, 2011 at 11:26 am #

        Dawn –

        You’re awesome!

        We’re awesome!

        Go us!

      • Chloe H July 20, 2011 at 11:29 am #

        I have to add that there was a particular moment that inspired this philosophy of mine.

        I was sleeping with this guy (it *should* start that way, shouldn’t it?) and was out with some of his friends at a bar. They began talking about anal sex, and one guy was celebrating his recent anal exploits. “…and she jus’ started grinding back on me and I could tell she wanted it.”

        SCREEEEEECH goes my mental brakes.

        “Wait… you can tell? You didn’t ask her?”

        Cue ridiculing laughter — the idea of ASKING someone if they were comfortable with any sexual activity was just ABSURD! Silly Chloe. Go back to sipping your drink.

  2. RL July 20, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    I think there are two issues at stake here.

    One Chloe has already hit on: We MUST make sex ed about consent. We MUST teach people that consent has to happen. Ask questions. Make it enthusiastic. It’s not rocket science.

    The second is a bit more difficult, and I think it’s particularly hard to talk about because we run the risk of diluting the first issue of consent. It comes down to an issue of lady behavior. Not all ladies, mind you, but some ladies do play cat-and-mouse. They do say no and mean yes. And that messes it up for everyone else, because it promotes the idea that no means yes.

    But Kelsey, I think your post is so important. Because feminists will always agree that CONSENT MUST HAPPEN. But it’s much harder to talk about lady behavior that brings down the significance of consent.

    So what does this mean? What do we say to the cat-and-mouse ladies? Are they wrong? Can we drown their behavior out with proper education on consent?


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