As women, there are a lot of things we've been socialized to do that make us appear less assertive than our male counterparts — like voicing opinions in a wishy-washy way, adding "don't you think?" afterwards, and apologizing for things we didn't do wrong. A big one, I think, is that we often feel bad saying no — we don't want to "seem mean" or "make a big deal out of nothing." Raise your hand if this has happened to you. Well, you're not alone: A Reddit thread asked the women of Reddit what was the worst thing that happened to them because they felt bad saying no, and the answers reveal some uncomfortable truths about consent.
Before we get into the responses, first, a quick refresher about what consent looks like. Consent requires open, honest communication, with both parties actively agreeing to engage in a sexual activity before doing it. It's not just the absence of a "no." Loveisrespect.org specifically notes that consent is not "saying yes or giving into something because you feel too pressured or too afraid to say no." I should note that not all of the responses in the thread dealt with sexual pressure, but a lot of them did, and it shows that both men and women need to be more educated on active consent, and we need to start practicing it. No one should do something they don't actively want to — especially sexually — because they got swept up and felt bad saying no. These responses reveal just how common of an experience this is for women, and that's not okay.
So many other commenters agreed.
I remember reading an article about this, about how so many women have had these sketchy sexual experiences that we didn't actively want because we felt bad saying no. Though I feel like I have to say that just because you go to a guy's apartment, or make out with him, or whatever else, does not mean you have to agree to (or are consenting to) have sex with him. You have the power to say no at any time, no matter the circumstance.
Just a reminder that just because you're dating someone it does not mean that you're automatically giving consent at all times, and that intimate partner sexual violence is real.
Nope. Not okay.
I know this thread asked for the worst thing that happened, but I feel like this happens even on a lower stakes scale. For instance, giving your number to a guy you talked to at a bar for 2 minutes, because you feel weird saying you don't want to and it's just easier to hand it over and hope he doesn't contact you. Honestly, this happened to me yesterday — I need to get better at saying no, too.
This is exactly what I was attempting to explain about consent earlier. I'm glad someone understands and was able to put it better than I could.
It's not all sexual pressure — as a working woman it can be hard to ask for help or say no to more projects because you want to be seen as a good employee and team player. Of course, this can definitely backfire, as this Redditor explained.
It can be just as hard to say no to friends and family as it is to say no to potential romantic or sexual partners.
I can't imagine how difficult it would be to say no to your parents, especially when they don't have your best interest at heart. I'm glad this Reddit user finally learned to say no to her family.
I am actually having a heart attack on behalf of this Redditor because of how dangerous this situation was. I can't even believe things went that far.
This thread illustrates that we need to practice saying no! And while you're at it, don't apologize for saying no when you do so. Learning how to be firm in communicating your discomfort or unwillingness to do something is so important. The more you assert your boundaries, the easier it gets.
Image: Ryan McGuire / Pixabay