No Means No!

How many times does society shout-out that phrase? ‘No Means No’ is plastered every day somewhere in the world. If it’s not on a Facebook feed it appears on Twitter or the mainstream news. Usually it’s in reference to males doing something sexually unacceptable to females. Lurking somewhere nearby is another word of anti-sexual behaviour: ‘Rape’.

no means no
I said “No! Why don’t you listen?”

The word of ‘rape’ and the ‘no means no’ phrase activate high emotions in humans. The issues attached to them seem simple to solve: Taking advantage of someone sexually or forcing them to have sex when they don’t want to is wrong. It’s wrong on every level. Perpetrators should be punished by being banished from society. The only debate then is for how long.

And then there is reality.

Really, does ‘No mean no’?

Sex aside, the word ‘no’ is becoming a foreigner to our language and it’s use is becoming distorted when it visits. Here’s why:

When we talk to our children today about ‘no’ we often attach other words to it like ‘not now’ or ‘later’ or insert a certain condition to delay what is really an inevitable ‘yes’. ‘No’ doesn’t have a ‘no’ meaning. It’s translation is the exact opposite.

Some children will never know what a true ‘no’ means. Parents won’t use it or live by it. ‘No’ doesn’t exist, only conditional ‘yes’ do. And then we turn our attention to males who have been educated this way who attack females. To them, ‘no’ doesn’t mean no. It always means ‘yes’.

But ‘no’ is a vital part of communication. The word does makes sense. ‘No’ is an actual real-world word. It’s an extremely powerful one but only when used with an appropriate action and an equally powerful consequence – to see it through to the end. It takes great courage and strength not to cave-in and provide a friendlier ‘yes’ to children.

No means no, or maybe, or later, or…

‘No’ needs a value – a true value. The only way to do that is to charge it up with copious amounts of action and to rehearse it over and over until it’s no longer painful to use. A ‘no’ every so often after that is good for reinforcement and for the soul. Stand by a ‘no’ and then mean it. There is no alternative route around one, it’s ‘no’ now and forever. There is no negotiation, period.

If we are to expect males to grow and understand that ‘no means no’ when they reach adulthood then we have to teach them about the full process of ‘no’ and stop giving in to ‘yes’ when they are children.

While we are at it, let’s teach our daughters that saying ‘yes’ doesn’t make them a slut. So few are comfortable to arm themselves with one though. She waits for her suitor to make their moves and then figure out what’s supposed to be said or done while it’s happening. I’d like to see females become more comfortable with a crisp clear ‘yes’ and take on more responsibility in this area.

But that’s another issue for another day and time.

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NO MEANS NO! Parents Teach Your Boys! was originally published on MICHAEL FORMAN AUTHOR

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