The power of “no means no”
I am once again off to the doctors, but I’ll leave you with something to ponder…
Figleaf mentioned the sexual freedom created by the feminist idea of “no means no” in two of his posts and this intrigues me. Of course growing up in the world of 3rd wave feminism I took the idea of “no means no” and “no one asks to be abused” as a matter of course. However, what Figleaf points out is that these ideas give me the power to say yes. He articulates something I have been struggling with since moving to Asia.
You see, I noticed that I am a lot less sexual here; a lot less open to sexuality in general and a lot less desiring of sexual attention in specific. No can mean a lot of things here, but it does not, in general, mean “no, please stop this is not ok with me.” I don’t feel safe here and so energy I would otherwise spend on cultivating relationships I divert toward responding to, and coping with harassment. Furthermore, I don’t feel respected the way I do in the west. I don’t feel like all of my choices will be respected – only the socially acceptable ones. As Figleaf points out I have to think about what I am willing to say yes to because I do not later get the option of saying “No. Enough.”
Which brings me to the idea of nobody asks to be abused. I’m a masochist to some extent, I have often asked to be abused, but like the freedom of no means no I ask with the knowledge that my partner is deeply committed to equality and opposed to domestic violence. I ask to be abused for my own pleasure and I know without a doubt that if I did not ask I would not get hit.
Contrary to what neo-conservative feminists may believe I engage in kinky sex, SM, non-monogamy, or even heteronormative intercourse not in spite of women’s liberation, but because of it. Knowing that when I say “no” it will be respected allows me to say yes to all the things I am interested in without fear. It opens a whole new world of possibilities that were not possible under the virgin/whore paradigm, or if they were came with too high a price. And that is fundamentally the difference between sex in my tribe and sex in exile…when my “no” isn’t respected I am not willing to say “yes.”