No Really does mean No!

In ;most cultures, women seem to lack assertiveness skills. There can be some big discussions as to why and how we might need to change that, but nevertheless, it is the current situation.  Therefore, many men (not all) are not able to really hear what a woman (girl, child) is trying to say.  Such was the case for Laura.  The following is from my book Redeem The Silence; An Unintended Journey.

” “No.’ That’s the message a woman needs to convey,” reported the San Jose Mercury News on January 8, 2003.   It is the editorial opinion of the San Jose Mercury News that this court ruling sends an important message to men.

Once a woman no longer wants to have sex, at any time she can indicate “no” and the man must stop, ruled the California Supreme Court on January 6, 2003.  And this remains the ruling even if the woman had agreed, or appeared to agree to the act the start.  This historic decision in the case of date rape creates powerful protection for women and sends an important message to men, reports the Mercury News.

To women, California’s ruling says: You can choose at any point whether to have sexual intercourse; the law is behind you.  To men it says; Just because you’re not using brute force doesn’t mean you have permission; there is no point of no return.  I agree that this ruling is appropriate.  However, it says that sex without consent is violence.  I say that sex without consent is not sex.  It is a violent crime, even when the violence might not be apparent on the outside of the victim.  It is a defining moment in her life.  Sex cannot be sex unless there are two consenting adults.  Nonconsenual sex is an oxymoron.

Laura appeared to have consented to sex after John partially disrobed her; then decided to halt the intercourse.  She testified three times that she told him she had to go home, and that she’d told him he would not be “doing this” if he really cared about her.  Instead, she said he asked for more time and continued the intercourse for several more minutes.  He didn’t threaten her; but he wouldn’t stop.  The court ruled that Laura’s protestations were enough to constitute withdrawal of consent.  Justice Rogers Brown point to issues further courts will need to address regarding conveyance of unwillingness.  but the central point needs no clarification:  The burden of proving consensual sex has shifted.  (Well, the article says that it has shifted, let us hope that that is true)

This new law is refreshing in its identification that just because brute force was not used does not mean it wasn’t rape and in its addressing the truth that “there is no point of no return.”  The judge is also right about “no” being clearly conveyed.  But, here is what I wonder: Could it be possible that Laura was not more direct in her “no” because she has never been taught–nor was it implied within a cultural context that “no really does mean no?”  What about her right to protest and to be respected?  One reason for her distress is our culture’s norm that rape is not to be talked about.  We fail to actively educate our daughters about the prevalence of rape, types of rape, and how to take better care of ourselves.  This fact does not translate into making them responsible for the rape however.

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