#SexWeek: I Didn’t Exactly Say No

Acquiescence: it affects people. And not just women.

Get RAMMED | Morgan Conley | March 2, 2016

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“He bought me a drink. It would have been rude to not go home with him.”

“My friend wanted to meet up with a guy and he had a friend, so I took one for the team and hookedup with him.”

“He talked to me all night. I would have wasted his time if we didn’t hookup”

There is a glaring problem evident in these statements: justifying your sex life by what another person is supposedly “owed.” Feeling obligated should never be a justification for a hookup. 

The term for the sentiments expressed in these statements is acquiescence. Acquiescence is a reluctant acceptance of something (in this case, hookingup) without protest.

I would not outright state that I am worth two vodka cranberries, yet when they are bought for me, I feel an unconscionable inclination towards something. Who knew that $7 bought me a vodka cranberry and him a one night stand. In many cases, that simple transaction ushers in a slew of implications, beyond the inevitable hangover.

By no means is it black and white. Not everyone feels a sense of unwarranted compulsion to sleep with someone just because they were given a drink. I have met girls who can accept a drink and walk away without a second thought. If their motives are to make a friend or get to know a guy, power to them. By no means is it invariably the intention of the drink purchasers to pressure such a thing either. I am not here to knock the hustle, but consent isn’t simple.

This is an intricate emotion, one that is so elusive you can only understand it if you were, at one point, that girl. The girl that knew she could say no but evaded the word out of fear she would be a disappointment. The girl that was aware of the control she had, but forfeited it and took one “for the team.” The feeling cannot be linked universally to looks, intelligence, self-worth; it is one that is socially constructed, socially imposed, and in some cases, logically unwarranted. There is no sign on a woman’s forehead warning a man that she is “reluctantly consenting.”

What is one to do when a drink comes with an implied invitation to an intimate bedroom affair?

It is human nature to look for a root cause, to find out what is “wrong” with the women who feel this way. You can’t just suffice it to say this is a tendency of the people pleasers of the world, of the insecure, of those who lack respect for themselves. That’s not how this complex works. I will venture to say that the most confident of women at one point or another have said yes because they felt an inexplicable, and sometimes unjustified, sense of pressure. Our attention shouldn’t be focused on trying to diagnose a woman for the reasons she “is the way she is.” It’s treating the symptom and not the cause. It’s victim blaming.

The point is, it affects people. And not just women. It is not fair for a man to be mislead or given the false impression that his physique or witty banter is doing the seducing, when in reality the girl feels pressure by unspoken expectations and not his biceps. That being said,“I’ll do it because I don’t want to hurt your feelings” doesn’t fall under the category of outstanding dirty talk.

It’s a fine line we walk when we search for affirmation and respect. Who knew that these words would one day be at odds with each other, so much so that wanting both could actually be considered having “high expectations.” Why is it that if a guy talks to me all night, I fear the point where he says “want to get out of here?” I don’t want to disappoint him, but I also don’t want to disappoint myself. Why are those two thoughts equal in my mind? Why do I feel indebted to him for giving me the time of day? Maybe it’s because I’m afraid that even if I talked to him all night and had a great conversation, once he finds out I won’t sleep with him, I might never hear from him again.

Say I did go home with him; the next morning would I feel crappy? How would I go about discerning the source of my discontent? Is it because I didn’t really want to hookup? Meanwhile, the guy I just hookedup with probably went back to sleep or ordered breakfast, guilt being the last thing on his mind. Why does this happen? Is it the age old “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” mentality? Or is it a subconscious guilt complex conditioned by years of glorified virginity?

It is hammered into our heads “yes means yes, no means no.” But, what about when yes is coerced, not by the partner, but by factors much bigger and more pervasive?

Gender norms have really screwed women. Boys are handed condoms on their first day of college, girls are told to watch their drink. Boys are high-fived after their latest lay, girls are asked if they think he’ll call. It is engrained in our culture for men to feel empowered through sex and women to feel confused. We fight so hard to adhere to opposing expectations that in turn, we lose a sense of ownership over our own sexuality.

The idea that a girl surrenders herself as part of the give and take of an evening spent accepting the generosity of a boy is an antiquated idea that we have to free ourselves from once and for all

We should be able to say yes, and feel empowered. We should be able to say no, and feel empowered. We need to stop basing how we view ourselves on how the boy will judge us, or how our father will judge us. They are not going to agree until we respect ourselves enough to do whatever we goddamn please.