If you're a woman, you've probably grown up being bombarded with warnings from your parents or family members about how not to get into sticky situations with men. Don't wear anything too "slutty," or don't walk in dark streets at night, or don't drink too much at parties — I've heard it all.
We're slowly getting past all the victim-blaming tactics, but there is still so much that is put on women to prevent.
I've read countless articles on how women should stay firm in their "no" stance, or how to tell a man "no" without hurting his feelings, or making him angry. Why is it that women are always taught to be polite when we are rejecting someone?
Direct messages on social media present a recurring instance that I and a lot of other women have in common are direct messages on social media. Beside the unsolicited dick pics and generally creepy stalking that The Tab reports, they also don't seem to take "no" as an answer.
When I was sent an unsolicited nude just a week ago, I immediately told this man that I didn't want it and that it was sexual harassment — also noting that I did not know him AT ALL. His answer was to ask me if he was "really that ugly," get angry, and tell me I was at fault.
It isn't even only with strangers — an ex-coworker has been messaging me on Facebook non-stop asking me to hang out and when I would be coming back to my hometown. What made it really uncomfortable was his usage of demands — I HAD to make time for him and I HAD to see him.
You can find all sorts of stories from women of all ages and backgrounds on various woman-centric Facebook groups such as "Why Are Men." However, in order to be accepted, there is a careful vetting process to insure that all participants feel safe in the online space.
So why are men taught to be so persistent? Why can't they take "no" for an answer — an easy one syllable, two letter word? Because they were raised in a cisnormative, heteronormative, sexist society that values their worth above all else.
They are taught that women play "hard to get" and that if they try hard enough, they'll always get the girl. You can clearly see in mass media too — literally watch any of Adam Sandler's movies or anything with an "ugly" guy that chases after a girl.
Men also think that everything is meant to cater them — that's why they get offended when women say "no." Their fragile masculinity and insecurity don't allow them to see the word "no" objectively, as something not about them.
Sometimes it gets way out of hand — like the newly banned Reddit subreddit for "incels" which stands for "involuntary celibates." This forum is made out of all the men who don't have sex because women reject them time and time again, making them celibate. They literally hate women.
A more enlightened way for men to move forward on their understanding of the word "no" is to educate themselves and each other. Women have been trying to tell them about sexual harassment and sexism for a damn long time and frankly it's not our job. We are literally doing you a favor when we educate you on why you shouldn't behave a certain way.
Men just don't believe us — some even feel the need to conduct their own "experiments" rather than just believing women. Writer and editor Mark Schneider signed his name with a traditionally female name for two weeks and realized the stark difference it made. It's insulting and demeaning that you — who do not even know what it's like to be a woman — will blatantly write something off as overreacting or silly.
Read up on women's issues and call out your fellow men when they behave badly. Don't hijack women's movements for yourself and don't make yourself the victim when you're obviously not. For more references, you can check out "You Just Don't Understand" by Deborah Tannen and "Difficult Conversations" by Douglas Stone.