“No Means No.”
“Real Men don’t Rape.”
For the last few decades, these slogans have stood at the forefront of education concerning sexual violence prevention. Plastered across fliers, hung up around campuses, written on signs, and blasted across the slides of presenters from high school to college programs on sexual violence prevention.
The problem is that sex is not transactional. Often the issue that students, and even professionals, are running into are less the black and white of healthy sexual relationships vs. violent or deliberate assault. Instead, many of our students are facing the gray areas of sex where participants are unclear of what is occurring in their relationships with a multitude of partners and thus, creating opportunities for sexual violence to occur.
Some people tend to take “no” as a personal rejection. Stalkers, rapists, jilted lovers are extreme cases that resort to violence when they hear “no.” But most normal people find it tough to take a “no” in the right spirit.
Think of the many times either politeness or lack of confidence have kept you back from saying “no.” As a result, you are coerced into a soul-sapping activity that leaves you frustrated and angry. And what about the times someone said “no” to you? It’s always been a bit of a shock, difficult to accept.
“No,” is a challenge, but it’s fundamental to change. It presupposes thinking and intelligent consideration. Revolutions start with non-compliance. A “no” will not gain you popularity, but you may chart new paths. The march of times and upheavals in history all started with a “no.” A new trend can only replace the old when the latter is rejected.
So, how good are you at saying ‘No’?
And equally important, how good are you at taking “no”?
Saying “no” takes courage and awareness. Accepting a “no” requires an equal amount of grace and confidence.
We find it difficult to say “no” because we perceive it as a negative. But look at it this way; when you say “no” to something, you are actually saying “yes” to something more meaningful; you are saying “yes” to yourself! So when you say “no” to an invite for lunch, you are freeing up time for some work and also saving yourself the stress of the commute. When you say no to a parasitic relationship, you are opening up better possibilities for yourself.
“No” has NO interpretations. From sex to spirituality, from home to career choices, a “no” should be taken to mean exactly that; NO! It takes a lot of courage, intelligence, and self-awareness to be able to utter this deceptively small word.