Not a fun topic, but something I've been thinking about:
We’ve been asked repeatedly, angrily and condescendingly: What is it about No Means No that you don’t understand?!What I’d like to know is when did No Means No turn into Only Yes Means Yes (my words, no one else’s) as seems to be the new normal, particularly on college campuses?
I remember seeing an informal poll once where women were asked if they would prefer to be asked before someone kisses them for the first time. Having just recently (recent to that poll, not to today!) been interested in a very hard-to-get woman of whom I asked that very question (she said Yes!), I was sure the majority opinion would be that they prefer to be asked.
In fact, it was overwhelmingly the other way, like almost unanimous (though I have a feeling the women were thinking only of guys they would actually want to have kiss them, not some random street miscreant). I could give an actual timeline and list of all the conflicting messages I’ve been given, starting with my dad as a young teen (me, not my dad) over the last, uh, 5 decades regarding how to be around women, how to treat them, how to respect them, how to be differential, how not to be, how to say nice things about how they look, why not to. And most confusing, here's the pendulum part, it has gone from one extreme to the other and back.
And what makes it all tougher is that this is one case where the Golden Rule certainly doesn’t apply. When men treat women the way they (men) would like to be treated is when they get in the most trouble. Ok, that’s an exaggeration. I’d like to be able to amend that to “…except where a crime is being committed” except that’s the point – more and more, simple innocent advances can be borderline crimes (and actual crimes according to some campus policies) under current law and definition.
But mostly I'm referring to the situations where a woman either gives something resembling consent or doesn’t say No and then waits a day or week or several months and then after being convinced by their friends, comes forward to accuse the young man of assault or rape. Certainly everyone, male and female, has been in a situation where their sexual partner started by saying no, but eventually changed their minds, usually without ever even saying yes, just over the course of continued interest, desires and advances.
Oh grr. Yet another reason I'm glad the dating scene is far in my past.
Addendum: This will be one of the few times I do some editing to a post after I first published it. I wrote this last night just before I left work and as I drove home, I realized I was uneasy with what I'd written, not so much because of anything I did write, but because it finished without a satisfactory conclusion. I tried to read it through Trev's eyes when he inevitably reads this and wonders what to think and I realized that the summary, the lesson, is this:
Sex from a legal standpoint, which is what I'm generally describing above is not much different from sex from a physical standpoint and since it seems incredibly obvious, I'm hesitant to admit this. What pleases or annoys one woman (or guy) does not necessarily please the next one. And what is "legal" to one is not necessarily seen the same way with the next. So, when you're with a girl and you do something that really gets her going, really turns her on and you think Wow - I know how to do it now! I've discovered the secret (that all guys claim to seek, though arguably, we don't try as hard as we should) on how to turn on women, and then you're with someone new and you do the same thing and she basically says "Are you done yet?!", you realize "Oh, dang - I thought I had it!" and you realize you have to start all over again finding out what works for her. (I could obviously go into a lot more detail here on specific cases, one I remember in particular from many years ago, involving a certain area that generally excites most women, that was of no interest to her whatsoever...but I shan't). :-)
I got a little off the rails there, but getting back to the legalities...or even arguably, the morals of a particular situation, it's just as confusing. What is testing (feeling them out by feeling them up?) or innocent play or experimentation or just sexual pleasure to one person can be, and has been, assault to another.
So, in the end, the lesson is this: Just get them to sign a waiver or consent form and have it notarized and witnessed by 2-3 people before hugging anyone and have a different form handy for each stage you get to.
This agreement, made December 31, 2014, by and between me, _______ McVickar, 407 Black Horse Road, 19425 and you ___________, currently residing at _________________, constitutes consent to allow me to remove your panties and it is hereby understood that such action does not suggest ongoing consent to touch you further without express, written consent.
And now, addendumizing once more, after reading the above to write a conclusion for Emma's benefit (and you too, Evie and Liss, though I'm wondering if you are maybe less likely to ever read this, or more likely have figured all this out way before you actually do read it): Be clear, be strong, be definitive. If you want No to mean No, and not mean anything less, look the guy right in the eye, grab him by the chin if you need to, like you were talking to a dog (because, well, c'mon), and say Stop It! And then remove yourself from the situation in any way possible, as you feel the need.