"So am I allowed to contact you?" This is the message I read on my phone screen shortly after I told a gentleman that I had been texting with for a while that I was no longer interested in sex with him. I had never had sex with him, and over the course of the past several months, I had gotten a weird feeling about him. I couldn't really explain it, except to say that something about him was not sitting right with me.
This is the advantage to having dated on-line for over ten years; at this point, I know innately who I should wait to have sex with, and I know with who I can go ahead and jump in to sex with both feet. Very often, when I wait, the gentleman in question will self-select themselves right out of the running. I am sure if I had some sort of scientific instrument to measure my impulses, I would be able to quantify my decision making around my sexual endeavors. For now, suffice it to say that I have honed this sense to a fine and cutting edge. (Toe pick!)
I responded to his message by telling him that he could in fact contact me, as long as it wasn't about sex. It was at this point that my vague feelings of mistrust proved to be spot on. He went off on me, telling me I should find someone else in my town to take my anger out on, telling me I was accusing him of things he wasn't doing, then finally telling me that I shouldn't send him naked pictures if I am later going to decide against sex with him.
This is not the first time I have experienced post-rejection rage from a fella who was hurt, and really, none of his barbs bothered me until I read the last comment. I think it is because his sense of entitlement was the red flag I had thought I spotted on the horizon, but could not be sure of. What's more, his sense of entitlement was a vivid reminder of the blatant misogynistic behavior I have witnessed almost daily ever since I became aware of it in my twenties.
I have dealt with men behaving as if I owed them something because they either bought me dinner or got a kiss from me, or asked me for advice over beers. But I am tired of it. Dealing with this behavior feels a lot like dealing with a five year old throwing a tantrum, except the five year old is a full grown man who can take his anger out on you in frightening ways. I am sick of having to be careful of what I say for fear of this type of backlash. I am tired of having to tip toe around a full grown man who should be able to handle his emotions. I continuously wonder why I am the one who must be extra sensitive while he is allowed to go ahead and be insulting and threatening.
Just in case there is anyone out there reading this that is unsure of what I am saying, it is that it is never okay for any person to behave as if any other person owes them anything in a consensual sexual context. It is always okay to say no, even if you are standing in front of the person naked. It is okay to say no even if you are underneath them. It is okay to say no. It is okay to say no. It is okay to say no.
Oh how I wish this topic was unnecessary to write about yet again, as I have written at least twice on this blog about this to this point, but unfortunately, it is not, and seeing as the people who behave this way very often cannot be reasoned with, the best I can do is tell the people being treated as if they owe: You do not ever have to hesitate about no. No is the word you must learn and love and live with comfortably. Do not ever feel guilty about no.
The good news is that "no" for someone else then results in a "yes," for you. For when you say no, you are giving yourself the unlimited love and care you deserve. When you listen to your intuition, or your gut, or your heart and it is telling you no, and you act on that, you are sending a big lovely yes right back, to you. You are loving yourself with yes energy. You are putting yourself first, and for that, you are reinforcing the mechanism that keeps you safe and sane. Remember that though it is sometimes hard and scary to say no, the reward you receive from this action is love and compassion.
This is you putting yourself first, right where you should be, even if you have been taught not to, even if you are afraid to, even if society tells you not to, it is your job to put yourself in first place every single time. Do not sacrifice any part of yourself so someone else can be more comfortable. It is a very hard habit to break once you start. After a while of doing this, you barely notice that you are doing it. So be conscious. Start to really tune in to what you want. What you want is vital. In sex, as in all other parts of life, your needs and desires are paramount.
Sexuality is a huge part of the human experience, and if you are living this part of your life for anyone else, you are missing out. If you are living it for you, you will grow. You will expand. You will learn to trust yourself in ways you never thought possible, and you will learn things about yourself that just might surprise you.
When will this topic be a foregone conclusion? When rape culture disappears. When people like one of the presidential candidates are no longer seen as a viable option as the leader of the "free" world. When the oppressed do not have to be patient with their oppressors and try to explain calmly why their behaior is damaging. This topic will be old news when women no longer get the message from society that their sexual desires should only be to attain and serve a man.
Until then, you must be vigilant with no, if for no other reason than your sex life should be vibrant and wonderful and exciting and a place where you can really be yourself, whoever that happens to be at that moment.
So, once again, say no whenever necessary, by any means necessary. There is no more important word to know and use. No matter who tells you otherwise. And then, go have the awesome sex you want to have with the person or people you really want to have it with. The sexual experience alone will be enough to reinforce your ability and desire to say no with confidence and courage.
Know anyone who needs to know that "No" is awesome? Send this to them. Post it on your FB wall. Tweet it out to your peeps. I mean, honestly, I don't think people tweet enough.
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