Thursday, May 29, 2014

From a Woman's Perspective: A Message about Consent



In 2008, I was walking to my apartment at night and a man approached me to ask for directions. I pointed where to go and he grabbed my butt. I said "sorry" and walked away. "Sorry". I did nothing wrong and I apologized to a guy who grabbed my butt, because it is ingrained in me, and in others, to be polite. "Sorry".

Does it matter that I was wearing a short skirt that night? Does it matter that I didn't wear a skirt for a month after that?

Last week on a crowded subway in Beijing at rush hour, someone grabbed my butt. I swatted the hand away. I share these two stories as a person who has encountered unwanted advances. It happens.

With #notallmen all over Twitter, and in light of this recent expose, I wanted to share a bit of my life experience, as well as some musings on the word "no".

For some of us, saying "no" is hard. Even when someone is doing something unwanted, the word "no" might come to mind, but the politeness and preservation of the happy mood might lead us to say everything but "no".

For this reason, it's clear that "no" isn't always a word. In fact, in my life, I've only ever used the word "no" in a physical situation once, despite having been in multiple scenarios where the word "no" would have been useful.

"No" doesn't have to be said. It can be a look of the eye, a turn of the shoulder, a nudge of the hand, a turn of the head; no comes in many colours.

It could be "I don't know" or "I have a boy/girlfriend" or "I'll be late" or "I'm tired" or anything else that isn't a bright smiling yes. All of these are the actions of a person who doesn't want the advance. It could be "sorry". If someone doesn't want to kiss you, they probably don't want to do anything else.

There's a big difference between touching someone who wants it, and touching someone who doesn't.

4 comments:

  1. I agree with your sentiment, #notallmen is kind of missing the point. The problem is that I don't know a single women who hasn't been harrased at some point in her life. We learn to get used to it and be careful. It's a pretty sad realisation. No should just be no, we shouldn't even have to give the excuse of having a boyfriend. And we definitely shouldn't feel guilty about it.

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    Replies
    1. You're right, realizing that we learn to get used to the behaviour is one of the saddest parts about all of this.

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks for your continued support Raphael!

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