Why is ‘no’ not enough?

Moin dear Reader,

I’ll cut to the chase: I’m angry. Less ‘seeing red’, using the C-word (which I don’t like and don’t throw around lightly. It was last used by me when someone did a ‘hit and run’ on my car last year) angry than I was a few days ago. I’m feeling more of a lightly simmering angry now, tinged with a mixture of sadness and confusion.

‘Oh come on sweetheart, why not?’

This might seem an overreaction to you when I explain why, but here we go:

I dragged myself and my battered suitcase to the launderette on Saturday, and if you’ve been following this blog for a while, then you’ll be well aware of the troubles I’ve had in the arena of misfortune that is my local launderette. My ritual is solid now; I wear headphones, make minimal eye-contact, just generally keep myself to myself. And yet, my outward and deliberate ‘don’t talk to me’ demeanour wasn’t enough to prevent a man trying to strike up conversation.

‘Give me a smile, darling.’

To cut a long story short, he was barking questions at me through my headphones, asking my name, and how I was. My replies were monosyllabic; I was rude. This isn’t how I like to behave, it’s not a natural thing for me to do (although some may beg to differ), which is why my anger now is still mixed with a bit of guilt at being very short with him. Twisted, when you think about it.

Anyway, he then said we should do something together, that I seemed nice.

Nice?

‘We could have a lot of fun, you and me’

Was I nice in the way I put an earphone back in while you were talking? Was I nice in the one-word answers I gave? Was I nice in avoiding your gaze? Or am I nice to you because you like the way my body looks in my leggings (usually the only clothes I have left when I go to do my washing)? Am I nice because you’d like to get to know me physically, is that what makes me nice?

Unfortunately, I hadn’t had time to objectify this man’s body in the same way he’d had time to look at mine, but I did then give my stock reply, ‘Sorry, I have a boyfriend.’ Another lie to add to the list of deflections of unwanted advances. Well, dear Reader, he then told me that he happened to have a girlfriend, so it was all ok.

OK?

There are many things not ok with what happened that afternoon. Firstly, your loose morals concerning your relationship are not echoed by everyone. Secondly, why is ‘no’ not enough?

‘Come on, don’t be like that.’

I give the boyfriend excuse now because I’ve learnt from other instances in the launderette that simply saying ‘no’ to someone’s advances doesn’t always cut it. I even said I was married once, and that did the trick, but only just.

But why, dear Reader, why is ‘no’ not enough? There are few words equally as clear about their meaning as ‘no’. It’s unequivocal. It should leave no room for negotiation, yet in my own experiences a simple ‘no’ is not sufficient.

‘Let me show you a good time’

It takes guts to approach someone and ask them out, of course it does, and there’s at least a little bit of damage done to both pride and ego if your advances are spurned, I can understand that. But have the good grace to walk away. Do you really think I’m going to change my mind if you get angry with me because I turned you down? Will being forceful with the person who said no attract them to you after all? If your answer is ‘yes’, then you may as well get off this page, you’ve got a lot more soul-searching to do elsewhere.

‘Come on babe, relax. Don’t be so uptight’

It takes very little time to ascertain whether or not you’re attracted to someone (not forgetting that little thing called ‘love at first sight’. You might’ve heard of it), and equally I’m well aware that living in a society where arranged marriage isn’t exactly the norm, if no one made any advances then there would be very few relationships indeed. But there are ways of doing it which don’t involve pressure, threat, or the impression that you’re doing someone ‘a favour’ by asking them out.

Make no mistake, I’m not flattered by your advances, nor am I grateful for your attention. If I were, then I would make it plain. Sitting with my arms crossed, on my phone, with my headphones in, should be clear enough as to how I feel.

‘You should be grateful.’

Do me a favour. Show some respect, and if I say no, I mean no. There’s no room for negotiation.

I don’t like the person I become at these times; rude and brash, not to mention a liar. But that situation won’t change until a negative answer is accepted without any kind of justification. If I’m not interested, I’m not interested, and I shouldn’t need to give a reason as to why. And yet we do, and ultimately end up being the more apologetic party, saying sorry for not being sexually attracted to someone who’s just backed us into a corner.

What the hell is right about that?

‘Don’t be such a bitch, yeah?’

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Mach’s gut!

Charlotte

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5 thoughts on “Why is ‘no’ not enough?

  1. I’m also guilty of using the ‘I have a boyfriend’ line because that seems to be the only thing that stops men groping me in clubs. I’m also a fan of screaming ‘I’M FOURTEEN’ when men cat-call me as it quickly shuts them up.

  2. Wow, just reading this has spurred me into a feminist rage. Why on earth should you be grateful for some pig of a man persistently demanding your attention, when you’d clearly already declined? Disgusting. Just a prime example of how objectified women are in today’s society. Great post, and great blog! Care to check out mine? Downwiththenorm.wordpress.com

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