When Yes is Still No

I have the bad habit of waking up to social media. Facebook, in particular. As I scrolled through this morning, there was a meme that read “Just because you regret sex afterwards, doesn’t mean it’s rape. Learn to handle the consequences of your actions.” Surprisingly, it was posted by a woman. I instantly began typing a response, a long response. But rather than dealing with the back and forth, I thought I would remove myself from that group post and use this as a moment to share my feelings on this with my beautiful friends here. And let me tell you, there are a lot of feelings going on here. Until this scowl is removed from my face, I will continue to type them out. First and foremost, that meme is shaming victims, which is never okay. But that is not what I want to touch on here today. Today I want to shed light on why some women may be placed into a situation that they do not say no and maybe even say yes to sex, but then immediately regret it. Today I want to cover coercive rape and grooming.

My blog’s overall theme is to empower. One minute I may write about the fact that we can have sex with whomever we want, whenever we want…without society’s permission. We can free the titties. We can own the world. And on the flip side we can say no to whomever we want, whenever we want…without feeling guilt. We can cover the titties. We can simply own our own little piece of our neighborhood. We can whatever the hell we want so long as it doesn’t hurt another person. And by hurt another person, I want to be clear that I am not talking about hurting their feelings because we chose to honor ourselves. We are 100% allowed to honor ourselves and our feelings, as is the other person allowed to honor and take care of their own feelings, 100%. Where am I going with this? I am going here…I am going to coercion…the thing that manipulative people do when they want what they want and don’t mind making you feel guilty or obligated to get it.

COERSIVE RAPE

Now, before I get into this, I want to be clear that I am not an attorney. I have no idea if coercion is punishable by law. Men, if you’re reading this and it isn’t yet, I would ask you to take note, as awareness is rampant now. Things are changing. And even if the law doesn’t get you for coercive actions, society will. Think Matt Lauer. Ladies, this article is to bring to light what you may be allowing to happen, and to let you know it is okay to say no. Say no, and remove yourself from the situation immediately if possible. I also want to mention that I am referencing men as the abuser here and throughout this article. I am aware that there are women who abuse and take advantage the same way; however, to keep the post simple I am referencing men. Please replace that word with women if your partners or abusers are women.

Coercive rape in its most common form is an employer who abuses his power, or the end of a date where dinner was bought and now sex is expected. In its simplest definition, it is sex with condition or manipulation. And it can be with someone you may or may not already be in an intimate relationship with; it is usually with someone you already know. To feed her children, a single mom says yes to repeated attempts for sex by her employer; she is afraid she may lose her job if she continues to say no. Because dinner or some other item was purchased, she says yes to his continued advances; she doesn’t have the money to buy him dinner in return and feels obligated. He has her cornered in his house and when she says no or pulls away, he gives a firm push into her, so she says yes; he has silently let her know she is powerless against his strength. After work, she is exhausted, but her partner continues to make advances and will not stop even when she says she’s tired and doesn’t want to…after his sixth advance, she finally gives in; she just wants a moment of peace. They have been in a relationship for a while and now he wants to try something new, his advances and requests aren’t working so he threatens to go somewhere else to get it, so she gives in and says yes…for the rest of their relationship; she can’t lose him. He wants to do something that she has done in her past with someone else, but she doesn’t want to do that anymore…he guilts her by saying she doesn’t love him as much as her last partner, so she gives in; she must prove her love.

All of those are examples of what coercive rape looks like. What they all have in common is repeated attempts, manipulation, coerced consent, and there was always an option for the woman to attempt to say no. What a wonderful gray area that is for some men to take advantage of. In all of these situations, the women could have said no, but why didn’t they? Because there were repeated attempts and something was at stake. Let me be clear, in all of these situations, the men (I will say most and not all, for arguments sake) know exactly what they are doing. They know they are holding something over her head. They know they are wearing her down and eventually she will say yes. They know they are coercing her. They may not know the term, but they are clear on what the end result will be. The question here is, did she want to have sex? And the answer is no. She clearly said no, but they pursued anyway. Even in an intimate relationship, no is no, and it needs to be respected at the first mention of it. I said earlier that you should leave after the first no. But what if it is your job? Report him to HR or take steps to find a new one after that first advance. What if it is your partner or spouse? You can say no, you can mean no, and if that ruins the relationship, it is on him…not you. What if you are the one cornered? I can’t give you advice to this one. I tried researching it and articles conflict between trying to fight and not fighting. At a minimum, I personally would clearly say I didn’t want to so I could report him after the fact. I did, once, find myself in a situation with someone I knew and I felt threatened. I fully felt he was going to rape me. I told him that what he was about to do would be considered rape and he instantly stopped. We are allowed to speak up. We are allowed to say no. We are allowed to find different jobs and different relationships for that matter. But what if we give in on that first request? What if we are on the date and he tries once and we just do it, even if we don’t want to? What if we are in a relationship and we say yes at that first request, even if we don’t want to? Then who’s fault is it? This is where it gets tricky. Let’s move on to Grooming.

GROOMING

I went on a date about a year ago. Somehow we got onto the topic of consent. He said that he felt bad because sometimes he has been with women and he wasn’t sure if they really wanted to have sex. He would ask them, and they would say yes, a clear consent, but yet he wasn’t sure. I don’t know what his upbringing was, what experiences he had had or perhaps his female family members had had, but he was very clearly aware of how women are groomed. How girls are raised to know men are superior and we are here to please them. Old thinking? Yes. Still here? Absolutely.

Grooming can take place in childhood and in adult relationships. We learn by watching our parents, we learn by how our relationship partners treat us. Or both, we learn by watching our parents, and then choosing a partner who is just like our father or mother and let him enforce what we already know. A young girl watches as her mother does the cleaning, makes dinner right on time, carries the food to her father who is planted on the couch, cleans up after him, continues to clean the home, then disappears into the parents room with her father, comes out and brings him a coffee or beer. This girl grows up knowing that she must “do” for her husband. As an adult, she pleases her man by doing whatever he wants, because catering to a man’s every need is what she believes love is, and if she is not making him happy, she feels guilty. A child’s uncle stays in the family home for a year. He is exciting and funny, and she wants to spend time with him, but he is not interested unless she plays in his bedroom with the door locked and her clothes off. As a woman, these memories are tucked away, but she knows the only way a man will love her is if her clothes are removed, so she says yes, because she knows she will never be loved with her clothes on. A father, believing he is giving good advice to his teenage daughter, tells her that she must do whatever her husband wants sexually whenever he wants it or her husband will go elsewhere. As a teenager, she shrugs it off, yet somehow it is still implanted and plays out with all of her relationships. She says yes even though she wants to say no, because she can’t bare the thought of him cheating. A child is raised on guilt. Her mother continues to say that she owes her because she gave birth to her or because she cooks her meals or because she buys her clothes. She is expected to repay her mother with chores or other favors around the house. As a woman, she immediately says yes to sex without thinking twice because a man took her out to eat or bought her something nice or fixed her broken stove, even if deep down she doesn’t want to. A little girl cries because her doll falls out of a moving car and her parents won’t stop to retrieve it. Her father tells her to be quiet or he will give her something to cry about. She is taught that she is not allowed to express her own feelings. Repeated situations like these teach her to tuck her feelings down and make the other person happy. At twenty-two, she doesn’t want to have sex with her friend who came over to just hang out, but he wants to, so she tucks her feelings aside. A teenage boy tells his girlfriend that if she really loved him, she would have sex. She has been taught by her mother that she doesn’t have to have sex until she is ready, so she tells him no. He breaks up with her. She has sex with her new boyfriend early on, even though she is not ready, because she has learned that she cannot keep a boyfriend unless she has sex. A man who feels entitled to have sex with his girlfriend whenever he wants, gives her the silent treatment every time she refuses him. She learns that to get love and keep the peace, she must have sex with him. While this particular man was actively participating in coercive rape, her next boyfriend is genuinely a good guy. However, because of her prior boyfriend, she has sex with her new boyfriend even when she doesn’t want to, because she had been groomed by the previous to just say yes.

In the above situations, it is not the man’s fault. Sadly, he has no idea that she really doesn’t want to. She may not even know she doesn’t want to if she has been taught to tuck those feelings down deep. Unfortunately, I feel that many women and even men have been in a situation where they had sex even when they didn’t want to, just to make the other person happy, because they felt obligated. First, I want to say that if any of the situations above resonate with you, I suggest you seek therapy. Unwiring what other people have taught you can be complicated and take a little time. Second, I want to say that you can say no. You can stop, right now, and ask yourself if you are having sex with your partner out of obligation, guilt, or fear. If the answer is maybe, or yes, acknowledge that. Acknowledge what you want each and every time you are about to engage in sex. If this will change your current dynamic with your partner, then discuss it with him. If he is not okay with the change, that’s okay. He can feel how he wants to feel, but you must honor how you feel. You have two wonderful choices at this point. You can ask him to go to therapy together so you can both learn to be in a relationship with mutual respect, or you can walk away and find a man who loves “you” and not just your body. A truly good man will respect and honor you and your feelings.

So, to the ignorant person who created that meme, yes, sometimes it is rape. Coercive rape. And sometimes its unresolved emotional abuse from childhood or adult relationships. Either way, a woman who regrets sex after, regrets it for a reason. She regrets it, usually, because she didn’t want to in the first place and was coerced by the person she had sex with or groomed by someone else who is or was close to her at one time. Either way, I encourage all of us, women and men, to take a look at when we say yes. Because sometimes, we really want to say no. And we should always honor our feelings when it comes to allowing something as intimate as sex into our lives. Feel your feelings and say yes or no based on your own truth. Do it without fear. Do it without guilt. Do it without shame. Do it with love for yourself.

Thank you for stopping by,

Sherry

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