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No Will Always Mean No

I know I’m not the only one who finds this more than appalling. No never means yes, and the only time yes means anal is if the question is “Can we try anal?” My biggest question here, among many others fighting to burst out, is why would you put this in a window? What are you trying to achieve? What reaction are you hoping to elicit? I can see why you would, in your ignorance, see this as a joke, but that’s the whole problem.

For one in four women across Canada, this is not a joke. For that person that lives down the hall in your apartment or residence, it is not a joke. For that person in your psych lecture, it is not a joke. For your next-door neighbour who has to walk by that sign every day before they goes to class and every time they come back, it is not a joke.

It is never a joke.

I get why the parallel structure might amuse and the antithesis of “yes” meaning “no” might enthral and how a girl saying yes to anal comes about so rarely that having a “yes” mean anal is entertaining and sets sparks aglow in your fiery loins. But why would you think about this perceived humour in this situation without first thinking about all of the people around you, and so many others affected by it, who might be hurt or set off by reading your sign?

The only reasonable possibility is that this sign was written by someone whose “no” has always meant “no.” When your “no” has always meant “no,” it’s ignorant, yet easy to see a phrase like this as dark humour because you have no idea about the negative repercussions of a “no” that goes unheard and unacknowledged.

But it is crucial to remember that there are so few people in this world, men and women alike, whose “noes” are received as a “yes,” and who, as a result, now must deal with the emotional and physical pain of their “no” registering as insignificant in the eyes of another person. The only time when a “no” should mean “yes” is, well, never.

So for all of you who are reading this – for those who have said “no” only to have it perceived as a “yes,” for those who have never had a chance to say “no,” for those who were never even asked but whose actions clearly demonstrated a “no,” –  stay strong, and know that you are not alone. Know that there are so, so many of us who realize that “no” means “no” and are trying to make sure that, from now on, our “noes” are being heard, acknowledged, and handled with seriousness that they demand.

For more information about this incident and how Western responded, check out this article

Alero is a fourth year student at Western University. She is pursuing an Honours degree in Creative Writing & English and is looking forward to post-graduation plans. Her dream job would be something where she could either write or read for the rest of her life - preferably both.
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