19 Realities About “No Means No” (And Why “Yes Means Yes” Is Better)

Ray Wewerka / flickr.com
Ray Wewerka / flickr.com

1. Unclear consent does not delegitimize rape.

It’s the truth. Rape is a serious issue. There might even be times when it is overlooked. But the world is not black and white, and when consent seems to fall somewhere between the spectrum of “yes” and “no,” it should be taken as a “no.”

2. A person has a right to stop.

It doesn’t make a person a tease to want to stop if pain occurs or the situation becomes uncomfortable. A person has a right to decide who enters his or her body.

3. Coercion does not have to involve a gun.

There might be numerous times when people are pressured to have sex by the threat of violence. But there are other ways to pressure someone too. It can be as simple as making a person keep going at it even if pain has been expressed.

4. Continuing after someone says they’re in pain is wrong.

A partner should stop as soon as the receiving partner expresses pain. The person should not be pressured to continue. That is just disgusting.

5. Pressuring should never occur.

This point builds off the last point. The penetrating partner should not pressure their partner to continue if pain occurs. It is immoral to be driven only by carnal desires. Sex involves human beings. It is a privilege. Not a right.

6. Past consent does not equal future consent.

That line applies more to relationships. Just because two people are in a relationship does not mean that sex is always “100 percent yes”. Someone could be pushy about making their partner have sex, even if that partner is not in the mood. The partner might end up going through with it just to “save face.” And perhaps nothing turned violent, but that doesn’t make the situation any less immoral.

7. The receiving partner is more than just a toy.

It is easy to forget that point. The “submissive” partner has a right to be more than just a body in bed.

8. Communication is vital.

The mantra is more than just a silly cliché. There is a lot of truth to it. Sex is all about pleasure. The only way to know if the sex is pleasurable is by communicating how it is going.

9. People can be afraid to stay no too.

Violence does not even have to be involved. It’s possible to become involved in a sexual encounter and then change your mind. It’s unfortunate, however, that many people don’t know how to communicate this.

10. People get in over their heads.

Getting in too deep is understandable, though it is still a less than desirable situation.

11. Do not blame the receiving partner.

It is not that person’s fault. It takes two to have sex. Ideally the blame should be 50/50. However, that statistic could change depending on how aggressive the other partner was.

12. Saying yes does not mean going all the way no matter what.

The idea is simple enough; a person might think that saying yes gives free latitude, when that is anything but true.

13. Dubious consent can still make a person feel angry.

Dubious consent might be different than a violent attack. Sex is still an emotional act. People pretend that sex can be cold. It really isn’t a cold thing. A lack of commitment does not mean that emotions aren’t still there. They are very much there. Being the victim of dubious consent could be confusing. A person might not know how to feel.

14. Buying someone drinks or other gifts is not 100 percent “code” for going all the way no matter what.

Sugar daddy/mama arrangements exist. But that dynamic does not apply to every romantic situation. A person should not feel obligated to go all the way no matter what the conditions are.

15. If you are going to let someone inside you, you better be sure that the person will stop.

There is nothing wrong with sex without commitment. But “wham bam thank you Mam” scenarios do not always bring out the best manners in people. The unfortunate aspect of the situation is that there is no way to be 100 percent certain if a person will stop unless in the actual moment.

16. Dubious consent might make it difficult to ever trust again.

It would seem foolish to never have sex again or go on a date if a person was the victim of what I’m calling “dubious consent.”

17. Sex is not an excuse to treat people like shit.

People need to remember to bring their manners to a sexual proposition.

18. Some guys will say anything to get a person into bed.

The idea might sound harsh or stereotypical, but there is a lot of truth to it. And this idea applies regardless of a woman/man or a man/man situation. People need to be cautious of the idea because even though a guy might promise to be gentle, that does not mean that he will actually be gentle.

19. People might never know the truth.

The issue of dubious consent is not an ideal situation. It falls somewhere between no and yes. Yet people have different opinions on the subject. Some people might think that it does not qualify as rape while others think that dubious consent is the same thing as rape. The idea applies to life in a general sense. Ambiguity is everywhere in life. It is something that isn’t fair or right. Yet people still have to make sense of it anyway. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Chris Bedell’s previous publishing credits include essays on Thought Catalog, short stories on Crab Fat Literary Magazine, Short-story.me, Quail Bell Magazine, Pidgeonholes Magazine, Abbreviate Journal, creative nonfiction personal essays on Inklette Magazine, Sprout Magazine, and Entropy Magazine.

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