On No (and Consent)

This is not a topic I touch upon very often; actually, it’s not a topic I thought I would have to touch upon at all. But it’s something that has been on my mind, and when I saw this movie poster I simply cannot stay silent.

 Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) Promotional Poster
Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) Promotional Poster

I want to talk about Consent.

I want every young girl and every woman to understand what “Consent” means.

Consent, as a noun, is a permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.
Consent, as a verb, is to give permission for something to happen.

The key words are permission and agreement. In order for something to happen, it has to be 1) permitted, and 2) agreed, by both parties–not just one. So if you accede to it because it is insisted on you, or you are forced to, or you feel forced to, that is not consent.

I’d like to tell this to all girls and women; if you are ever in a position where you find yourself having to say no to a request, or a favour, made by another person; be it someone you know, someone you trust, someone you are with, or even someone you love, you have the right to expect your wish to be respected. This applies to everything; but especially when it comes to your body.

That’s why this poster pisses me off so much.

When you feel uncomfortable, and you say no, both parties need to understand that no means no. No one should justify anything by pretending that it’s a soft no where no means yes. No means no. Without compromise. Without justification. Without any further demands.

When you feel the need to take some time, you have the damn right to take some time. Decide your own pace. Don’t ever let anyone tell you to “not overthink” — overthink all you want, IT IS YOUR BODY. You’re the one who has to live with the consequences of your decisions; of course you’re allowed to overthink. You don’t have to explain your decisions. You don’t have to explain why you need some time. You don’t have to explain why you say no.

And when you say no, and they still insist, and you find yourself having to repeatedly saying no–understand that they’re not taking your wishes into account. Do not let them dictate you into doing something that you don’t want to or would regret. Do not take anyone take advantage of you. They might have told you they respect you, or that they’re feminists and believe in women’s rights, or that they love you and that’s a testimony of their love, or that it’s all casual and it would leave no baggage; whatever bullshit they have in store, but if they don’t stop at the very first time you say no, you should understand that they’re not to be trusted and you need to leave at that very instant.

And when you say no, and they make a show of how you’re letting them down, how you’re disappointing them, how you’re not worthy of their love or friendship, don’t ever feel like you are the one to blame. Do not feel guilty. Do not feel like it’s your fault. Do not feel that they are entitled in any way to get what they want; not at the expense of yourself and your feelings. Do not blame yourself for letting themselves down, or for their getting the wrong impression, or for changing your mind, or for feeling uncomfortable–again, it’s not your bloody fault. Again, it’s your body. Again, it’s your right.

That’s why I found the Fifty Shades movie poster (and the movie) absolutely horrific. It’s a trashy series, the movie is rubbish, and the whole idea is troublesome; but what is worse, it glamourises abuse in relationships. Not just physical, but also emotional. Worse, it’s being sold as a ‘love story’. But that’s not love. That’s just abuse.

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