It’s okay to say “no” when you’ve had four too many. When the world’s lines are blurry and reality is spinning and comings and goings are as fluid as the whiskey you’ve been drinking. You don’t have to know up from down to know yes from no. You don’t have to see how many fingers someone’s holding up or sufficiently walk a straight line for their access to sufficiently be denied.
It’s okay to say “no” when your skirt is supposedly too short and your shirt is apparently too low and your heels are arguably too high. Your unsaid permission is not stitched into your blouse. Your needs and wants and desires are not hidden under polyester armor, waiting for questionable intentions to decipher.
It’s okay to say “no” when they’re your friend, husband, boyfriend, schoolmate, coworker, or the second cousin of that friend you once went to a party with. Your words do not lose their power the more you get to know someone. Your voice does not diminish with every sunrise or sunset you may or may not share.
It’s okay to say “no” when it isn’t you. If your eyes are witnesses or your ears fall to the ground and under a shut door, now privy to what once was a stolen innocence, speak. If you see someone defenseless and the horns slowly emerge from those in power, drop your jaw and release your protest.
It’s okay to say “no” if you change your mind. We allow you to change majors and change direction and change clothes, with no repercussions other than possibly wasted time. If his touch is too forceful and his breath too hot and his weight too much, you are not bound to your previous decision. If your mind is screaming and your nerves are sizzling, they are as valid then and now as they were five minutes ago, when you were saying yes.
It’s okay to say “no” if you were flirting. Batted eyelashes and sly smirks and witty words do not form a map to your uncharted territory. Your playfulness does not relieve them of their self control. Your allure does not diminish their responsibility to be respectful. The only path you led them on is that of the unknown, of which the rules of the road still apply.
It’s okay to say “no” if you’re unsure.
It’s okay to say “no” if you’re embarrassed.
It’s okay to say “no” when they tell you it isn’t okay to say “no.”