SayinNoI do most of my thinking in the car, actually that might not be true.  I think about random stuff all the time, it is just that usually in the car I have enough time and nothing else to do and can formulate entire thoughts.  Today’s thought was about saying No.  I had recently seen a couple of posts on facebook about rape culture and consent and how anything other than a clear YES means No, which should be obvious, but apparently isn’t.

This isn’t about rape, this is about No.  In our culture, No, is not an acceptable answer. Ever.  It starts really early on.  A mother is feeding her child, the child is still an infant or a toddler and closes her mouth because she is no longer hungry.  That is a pretty obvious No, isn’t it? What does the mother do? She forces said child to eat some more, because No is not acceptable.  A different scene, the family goes to visit relatives, and the little child is ordered to hug and kiss one of the people they are visiting, the child refuses.  Another quite obvious No, again the child is forced to give hugs.  And it goes on and on into adulthood.  An arranged marriage is taking place and after the prospective groom leaves, they ask the girl if she is interested  and she says No.  Now that is a very clear no, instead of accepting it, she will be required to explain and justify her answer.  She will also probably be pressured to say yes, at least to another meeting.  Even as grown ups, if you are invited to lunch, your host will try and force you to eat more than you want foods that you probably don’t want to eat.  Even if you say things like “No thanks, I really don’t eat liver” they will probably ignore you and pile that liver on your plate.  I hate liver, and I hate how it smells and I will not eat it even if you beg me, yet these people refuse to accept taking No for an answer.

This is unfortunate, instead of saying what you mean and meaning what you say, you end up either being passive aggressive or just lying to get out of having to say No.  Passive aggression is more socially acceptable than saying No.  I wish I had an answer for why this happens.  Could it be control?  Everyone likes to feel that they have control over others by obviously forcing them to do things they do not want to do?  Or is it just another cultural thing that no one has ever thought about?  It doesn’t seem like it is an accident that one of the first things babies learn to say is No.  I understand that as a parent, we need to teach them to say Yes too.  The tricky part is teaching them where their boundaries are and how to protect them.  The trickier part is to teach yourself all of that as an adult.  And this is just the direct refusal of your No, I haven’t even got to the part where you say Yes/Maybe/Whatever because you just can’t say No because you don’t have the heart for another confrontation or just want to be accepted, but that is a totally different story.  Or they can’t take being guilted, blamed or shamed for their choices anymore.  It is exhausting.

We need to say No if we want to.  We also need to understand that when others say No, we need to accept that and back off.  We don’t own others no matter how much we love and care about them.



Here is a cool printable for helpful ways to say No <<>>

Unleash your inner two year old and say No <<>>

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