“She Could’ve Just Said No:” Part I

Poor Kendra.

I didn’t have any thoughts about her sex tape until Alicia sent me a link today that left me upset and deeply depressed.   You can read it here.   “Evil Beet” describes the action on the tape in painful detail, painful because it reveals that Kendra complained to her partner about being videotaped and about what he wanted her to do. Obviously, she gave in. And she could’ve said No.

But how easy is it to say no in certain circumstances?

Remember the people whose response to the Terry Richardson stories was essentially, “She could’ve said no?” It seems fair to expect a young woman who objects to a man’s behavior to exercise her free will and Just Say No. If a man doesn’t have a gun or knife against her throat, she is free to refuse any sexual advance or sexual suggestion.

And yet.

How many women have shameful memories of the time she allowed something to happen against her will? Something that happened because she didn’t want to cause a fuss, or scream, or piss someone off. Or because she realized that saying no wasn’t enough and she’d just have to submit and get it over with.

Where is the line between not wanting to have sex and being raped? If you say no but don’t scream for help, is this consensual sex?

When I was a teenager, “no” meant nothing to the men who could impose themselves on me. Crying meant nothing, either. It’s not something most women want to talk about but I’m learning that if you ask your friends, you’ll discover how prevalent this shit it. It’s comforting to know that I wasn’t alone in these experiences but it’s also enraging.

Do teenage girls still find themselves unable to exert their power over their own   bodies? Are their refusals respected or taken seriously? Do they feel pressured to give in rather than make a scene? Do they get to decide how far they want to go and with whom? Or do they give out blowjobs to win affection or a date for Saturday night?

I personally never judge a woman who claims she was pressured into sex. I know it happens but I’m not sure why. I’d like to think that the Terry Richardson’s of the world will face a new generation of girls who can back up the word No.

Is Kendra a slut? Of course! But even a slut has the right to refuse sex. Is it men who don’t understand this or is it us?

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58 Responses to “She Could’ve Just Said No:” Part I

  1. Sad says:

    Oh hoochiegucci, that is terrible. I am SO sorry to hear that. I had a similar experience in college. It wasn’t so violent, but I remember laying there in absolute fear and having an out of body experience that it wasn’t really happening to me. It was someone I regarded as a friend who I always thought might have a little crush on me. After that night he tried to pretend like our friendship was normal and I did too.

  2. Danielle says:

    There’s a lot of legal issues surrounding the ‘just say no’ stance. For one, social conditioning and the media has conditioned both men and women to treat some ‘no’s as a word for ‘maybe.’ No one can deny that ‘no’ in a situation involving a masked rapist in a dark alleyway means ‘no;’ but then, no one can deny that some movies depicting a woman playfully saying no while giggling means ‘maybe’ or even ‘yes.’ In fact, there are so many media portrayals of playful women moaning lusty ‘no’s that many men and women are no longer certain when no actually means no–particularly the younger ones. Many states grapple with this issue from a legal perspective as well and, as such, most states have decided that merely saying ‘no’ is not enough to quantify a sexual encounter as rape.

    After some thought, I’ve decided that the S&M community has the rest of society beat by a long run. Instead of ‘no,’ the sanctity of which has been brutalized and mutilated by pornography and R-rated movies, why not just have a safe word? Saying no might be misconstrued as a means to further the excitement by some but surely saying ‘onomatopoeia’ while half-dressed will clearly alert the person your onomatopoeia means no and this no really means no. Think about it: the worst mistakes most women have ever made sexually is sleeping with someone they have no or little understanding of due to a failure to communicate. If we taught all children to slow down, think if they want to have sex, and then tell them they should sit down with that other person and come up with a safe word before going at it, our children would 1) think a lot more thoroughly about sex; 2) communicate better with their sex partners. Sure, it wouldn’t stop a man from forcing a woman if he really wanted to–but at least that woman could go to court testifying that she said ‘yellow’ in the middle of getting undressed, the man heard her, and still went on with it with full knowledge yellow was the safe word.

  3. Sister Wolf says:

    Danielle – Today, a friend toled me about the time she was raped by a man she’d had some drinks with. She didn’t see the point of going to the police because they’d never believe her. She felt it was her fault, in a sense, for allowing herself to be in a situation where this could happen. And that women need to just learn to suck it up.

    But. What is a man had some drinks with another guy, and ended up being raped by him Would his friends tell him to suck it up? I’m guessing that people would find this srot of rape more horrifying and criminal.

    Pretty fucked up, eh?

  4. Eliza says:

    I always thought it was interesting how drinking is popularly blamed for victims of crimes but not the criminals themselves. Shouldn’t a man too intoxicated to gauge consent from a woman or control his own libido face consequences?

  5. Danielle says:

    SW-It’s definitely a huge problem in the legal system. The law used to demand women have physical evidence that they physically fought back though statistics show that women are less likely to fight back because they fear they will be injured in the process; furthermore, women are statistically less aggressive than men are. Many legal analysts who say that women are being judged by male standards when it comes to rape and the expectation that women should risk their lives for their chastity is both unrealistic and outdated–though some feminists argue the law should not encourage the stereotype that women are passive and weak by lowering the standards of rape.

    Rape is particularly difficult because it requires the prosecution show the alleged victim did not want to have sex and the alleged rapist intended to rape beyond a reasonable doubt which is already a steep standard and it frequently comes down to a girl’s word against a guy’s. As a law student, I’ve read many outrageous rape cases–one of which involved a man squeezing the neck of a woman while she cried and begged for her life…which was later interpreted by the court as a ‘heavy caress.’

  6. jlg says:

    My religious education/ethics teacher makes me mad. She teaches her female students to say no in this situation but she thinks that the male students are immature so they shouldn’t be told about respecting women and not forcing themselves onto women because they might not understand why and be all silly about it, with their “jokes”. honestly?
    she is in a prime position to educate them about respect and she won’t. and due to being a fundamentalist christian spends half the lessons dribbling on with inaccurate information about the bible and SOME 0f the time on other religions, and is disparaging while she does so.

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