If you kiss someone on a date, do you have the right to refuse sex, or refuse to see them again? Is the kiss a seal of a sexual transaction, of you promising your body to them? Does the person have the right to pursue you until they wear you down into submission? Should persistence be allowed to beat resistance?
These are the questions a friend of mine has been left asking herself after going on a date with a man. The date was over-amorous from the start, and she found the level of attention from a stranger alarming at first but thought ‘what the hell – if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’ after a few glasses of wine. It can happen. She even began to enjoy his advances the more the wine flowed. His persistence beat her resistance.
At some point, she decided to go home – alone – much to his chagrin. He didn’t push her into anything else but she said he was visibly annoyed. This is where things get cringeworthy and slightly worrying. The next morning pleased with her decision to go home, she realised in soberness, she really wasn’t into him after all. However, the man had different ideas. They had kissed, his persistence had beat her resistance, so she SHOULD be into him. And he was going to verbally force her. Or at least try to.
The man texted her continually, persisting and badgering her for another date until she strongly insisted she really didn’t want to see him again and he should leave her alone. She then entered into a 2-hour ‘texting discussion’ with him about why she didn’t want to see again – he couldn’t understand it as she must like him because she kissed him the night before and they’d had a good time. He kept repeating he had ‘treated her nicely’ because he’d paid for the drinks (note to ladies: ALWAYS go halves!) and therefore, she should have slept with him. He was incredibly ‘hurt’ she didn’t want to and nothing she said could stop his insistent comments. This went on, on and off for two days until she finally barred him, slightly concerned that he’d dropped her off in the cab after the night out so now knew where she lived.
Now, she is in a moral quandary. When does no mean no? Did she do something to warrant this barrage of abuse and attention? Did she ‘bring it on herself?’
And so to the questions: Does no ever mean yes? Do women ‘lead men on’? Is this unfair? Should men be expected to be able to control themselves at any point in a sexual encounter – should women be able to say ‘STOP’ at any point? Are men in the wrong for using persistence to beat women into submitting to them sexually? (There are many websites out there that actually condone and encourage this ‘pulling technique’). Should that type of coercion be considered as rape?
These are questions women and men have discussed since the dawn of sexual freedom, right across the world and yet still, in 2015, we can’t seem to agree on a definitive answer. To me, reader, it’s quite clear. Men and women should be able to say ‘no’ at any point in a sexual encounter and no should be ‘stop, I don’t want to do that.’ That word should be respected. If the person changes their mind off their own accord, great, but, coercion and ‘persistence’ can be forms of bullying. We NEVER condone bullying so why should it be any different when dealing with sexual relationships?
My friend’s date was wrong to pursue her once she had changed her mind and said no. He should have left it there. My friend was obviously vulnerable enough to give in to his attention despite not wanting it in the end. She can regret being in that situation and do things differently next time, for example; she could have left. She didn’t because she didn’t realise how much harder it would become to change her mind further down the line (though it shouldn’t be harder at all). She had the right to say no at any time and this should have been respected. Her date’s ego had been hurt and as a result, he felt it was his right to pursue her into rectifying that in the hope she would change her mind and give into to his will. I for one am glad she stayed strong.
When it comes to sex, persistence should NEVER beat resistance. No means no until the person says it doesn’t without coercion.