(I guess this could just as aptly be titled “yet ANOTHER excuse that is not actually an excuse”, but for some reason I’m liking the shorter titles lately)
Another thing that I’m amazed we’re still needing to correct people on: the at best misguided and at worst (and much more often) malicious insistence that “women often get off on saying no, when they actually mean yes!”. I am not exaggerating. Not long ago I ran across a story wherein a woman had been on a date with a man she’d known for a while*. Earlier in the evening they got in a ticklefight during which, as often happens, she was laughing and telling him to stop. Because that’s sort of what you fucking do when someone tickles you.
Well, later on, they started to have sex, and at some point the woman told him to stop. He did not.
His defense? That because she had said “no” so much during being tickled, she’d “made it obvious that she did not actually mean ‘stop’ when she said it.” The post concluded with a strong statement about SAVE THIS INNOCENT MAN FROM BEING PERSECUTED OH MY GOD THE WORLD HATES MEN IT’S SO AWFUL.
The comments almost unanimously supported this man.
Now, I am not denying the possibility that there are people who have fantasies revolving around saying “no” but meaning “yes”. Hell, there are people who masturbate to the thought of being covered in salad dressing.
But that is not a thing you are allowed to assume, ever.
I can think of a real fucking easy way to solve this claimed “miscommunication”. If your partner says No, Or Stop, or I Don’t Want To, or That Hurts, or I’m Tired, or It’s Getting Late, or I Don’t Think We Should Be Doing This, bring all sexual activity to a screeching halt. Immediately. Do not thrust a few more times, do not laugh and joke that, “oh, you probably just want [insert other kind of sexual activity]”, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars, and absolutely do not take it as merely a suggestion.
By doing this, everyone wins. If you stop and your partner sheepishly admits to a fantasy regarding saying-no-meaning-yes, this gives you two** the opportunity to set up a mutually-observed-and-respected safeword and make the experience more thrilling and enjoyable for both of you. If you stop and your partner really meant stop, then congratulations, you just avoided becoming a rapist! If you stop and your partner freaks out at you for actually stopping and walks out, then consider that a bullet dodged – you just avoided remaining sexually involved with someone unpleasant/unbalanced enough to get indignant over having hir wishes respected and responded to.
There is no, absolutely no excuse for not stopping at the slightest hint that your partner does not want the scenario to continue.
There is nothing bad that can come of taking “no” seriously every time.
If someone is trying to claim that they kept going because their partner had done something to “make” their protests dismissible, that person is not a victim of miscommunication – that person is, on no uncertain terms, a rapist. Consent is not what you mean, or imply. Consent is what you say and do. There’s a reason that consent is defined as being active: it’s supposed to draw the line against cases of Ze Didn’t Ever Actually Say No. That this doesn’t automatically extend – in everyone’s mind – to the seemingly more clear-cut case of an actually verbalized “no” absolutely blows my mind.
Moral of the story: no means no, every time, in every situation, for every reason. And if you’re the Good Person™ that you claim to be, you have absolutely nothing to lose by respecting this above all else.
*I wish I’d thought to bookmark the thread at the time, but unfortunately I did not.
**Or three, or four, or however many are involved. Consent does not go away in less traditional situations.