“I Thought You Were Only Saying No Because…” (I Got An Interesting Window Into What A Man Thought About Consent…)

January 3, 2017

That cracked article from yesterday was so interesting to me. And I just wanted to expand on some things it brought up for me. The idea that women want sex even when they’re saying no is a real idea embedded in some people…

[Trigger warning: This post talks about a situation that may be triggering for people who’ve experience sexual assault.]

Here is a small story I have not yet shared about sexual assault guy – because it wasn’t nearly as upsetting to me as the two sexual assaults I’ve shared. But it does have to do with consent, so I think it has become relevant.

There was one night at his apartment… It was actually the first night I ever slept with him…

We’d been having sex all night and then all day long. Like, a lot. And he asked me to stay, which I agreed to.

He told me he had a mountain of work to catch up on. And I said that’s great. I’m super tired anyway. (After all, I was the busiest I’d ever been – this was on the tail-end of moving to New York on a whim, having a more-than-full-time job, plus a part time job (as an elf), and being in a prestigious school program… I. was. tired.)

He gave me his robe to wear, and as I tied it tightly shut, I flirtily, kindly (but pretty firmly) told him I was “closed for business” until he finished his work.

And he thanked me (profusely). He was like, ‘I would’ve never been able to have the control to do that myself with you. So, thank you. Because I really need to get this done.’

He stayed up and worked in his office. And I went to bed. I woke up at some point in the middle of the night and went to get water… The way his apartment was set up, I had to go through his office to get water. And when I came back through to go back to bed, he stopped me.

“I need a break,” he said, flirtatiously.

I was pretty flirty (but also with an underlying real/insistent tone) back, when I said, “What did I say?” I’m closed for business ’til you’ve finished.”

“Oh, but come on. I need a break.”

“Hey. Not with me,” I said (granted, with a little laugh), as I turned around to go back to bed.

I will readily admit I was still pretty flirty at the beginning here. I mean, I liked him. I wasn’t about to be a rude jerk. But I’d also made him a promise that I’d help him concentrate. And because I liked and cared about him, I wanted to stay true to that promise.

But he didn’t let up. He physically stopped me, turning me toward him.

“Come on.”

And it continued, around and around versions of, “I want it, come on, I need a break from work,” with me responding, “No. Hey, not now. Stop. Come on!” Over and over and over.

And each one got a little less flirty and a little more insistent.

And even still – even in the middle of escalating (both in loudness and intensity – not that I was ever screaming or anything… but just getting more kind of put-my-foot-down tone of voice) “no”s and “stop”s (over and over and over), he took off my robe (as I physically tried to hold the belt shut). He pushed my hands away, and took off my robe.

He backed me up against the edge of the bed and then onto my back as I said, “Come on. Come on. What did I say? Stop. Hey!”

He climbed on top of me as I was literally saying no and stop.

Over and over and over.

Granted, I guess you could argue that even if I was being firm and insistent, I wasn’t yelling. I guess the best thing I could liken it to was that I was kind of doing the tone of voice you give to someone, I guess, if they make fun of something you’re really sensitive about… the tone that kind of says, “Hey, if you stop this now, we’re still cool. And I’m trying to keep it light-ish, because I like you. But, for real, can you stop please?”

I don’t know if that makes sense… I just don’t want to paint a picture of me screaming no with terror in my eyes because that was not what was happening…

But what was happening was that even if I said it in a non-super-mean way, I said no or stop or something along those lines – very clearly where I could easily be heard – I would venture to guess in non-hyperbolic terms, at least 26 times from when I walked through his office to when he climbed on top of me.

And I was getting a little more afraid the more aggressive he became.

I really believed he was going to enter me, even though I was saying, “no,” “stop,” and I had my hands up on his chest, physically pushing him away from me – not in a way of super anger, or where I thought I was actually going to overpower him. But just in like a “get off me” way… I was literally pushing him away.

And he was just about to enter me – I mean, he was right there, I could feel him lightly touching me there about to go in, and I’m still saying no. And he looked at me with wide eyes and got this look as though a lightbulb went off. And he said, “Oh! You’re saying no!”

And he got off of me.

Much later (many months), after I was trying so hard to point out that I had truly felt unsafe with him in general overall, and that he didn’t listen to me (often), I gave this as an example (outside of the assaults, but pertinent and relevant).

And he told me that he just kept proceeding because he thought the “only reason I was saying no” was because I was actually just trying to help him – but that in that moment, he didn’t need that help. He wanted to have sex more than he cared about the consequences of not getting his work done.

So, his idea there being then that if he didn’t need the “help” I was trying to give, then he didn’t need to respect that no (that my no became invalid).

And that’s when a lightbulb went off in my brain – this idea that it was completely okay to ignore me saying “No, “Stop” over and over and over and over and over, because it wasn’t a “justifiable” no.

He wasn’t taking my no as a reason to respect my agency. He was saying, “Well, if it’s only no because blah blah blah, then it’s not a no” – it’s like it’s going through this system in his head. I imagine a flow chart. I feel like it should say, “Does she want to have sex?” Then if you follow the box that says “No,” all options should first start with “Then stop touching her.”

And then the options can proceed as to what’s next. It’s 100% fine with me if he asks me, “What’s going on?” or, “Are you only saying this for me? Can we talk about this? If you’re truly only saying this for me, I’m really okay with it. I’ve really gotten enough work done. But I want to understand if I’m hearing and understanding you correctly.”

That actually is what happened after he got off of me. We did talk about it.

When I’d been saying “no, no, no” over and over it was indeed because I was thinking of him… I’d promised him something, and I wanted to follow through on that promise.

Had we just had sex right (really, even if he’d just proceeded, no matter how many times I’d said no), then without him cluing me in about how much he’d accomplished, and that he legitimately was about to take a (needed) break anyway, I would’ve felt super guilty because of the fact that I’d told him I would do something, and I wanted to follow through with that… And that’s what I was trying to do. *But* after we talked out loud, and got on the same page, we did have sex again.

But that’s the point. Talk to me. Listen to me. Don’t make assumptions about why I’m saying no, or decide my answers aren’t good enough, or aren’t valid.

(Does that make sense?)

I honestly believe he thinks he is a “good guy.” I reeeeeally think he thinks that.

And I think that he sees himself as the heroes in that article. He sees that he’s not the bad guy in an alley with a knife. so, he’s a good guy – the hero of his story! And because he believes he’s “respectful” to women, I think he would try to play the role of “respectful” guy.
I would bet you money that if he asked a girl to do something not in the “general norm” or whatever – if he asked her to use restraints or do something not everybody does, and she said no, that he wouldn’t push, that he wouldn’t just tie them on, that he’d be like, “Oh, that’s a justifiable thing because I’m asking her to go outside the understood comfort zone of society.” But if I don’t want to have sex in my bed, well, that’s a no to just ‘push past.’ Because a “good guy” “fixes” a girl – if a girl is not the normal archetype, he helps her become that… (Or, at least that’s my best guess to potentially at least something going on in there…)

And I just – I’m sorry because this story was so long. And I know I ramble sometimes. But hearing the sentence from him that he ignored me saying both “no” and “stop” over and over and over again just because he “thought I was only saying no because….”

– and that my no wasn’t a justifiable reason to him, so he plowed forward overpowering me while taking off my robe, and overpowering me while pushing me on the bed (until he finally changed his thinking just milliseconds before entering me)…

Just hearing, ‘I kept going’ since “I thought you were only saying no because…” it just really opened my eyes to the idea of what some men think consent looks like… even the “good guys.”

I'd love to hear from you! So whaddya say?