No Means No

02022-06-21 | Uncategorized | 6 comments

As a teenager I would get angry when I watched a Hollywood movie and the following kind of scene unfolded: the protagonist attempts to kiss a woman. She resists. He insists. She struggles to free herself and then… and then she throws her arms around him and kisses him back. What the hell? It was some kind of offensive male vision of the world on the level of the Abduction of the Sabine Women by the Romans.

Was this something that happened IRL, my young self wondered? Should it happen? I did not think so. Was this something that male directors and male screenwriters came up with? I decided that I would not want to be around somebody that acted like either character of the film couple, neither the person who forces themselves on another nor the person who gives in to it.

Such mythology is part of some men’s vision of the world: “You have to take what you want!” “You have to overcome resistance!” Interestingly the New Age movement created an idea that is quite similar. Instead of physical action to achieve a goal the New Age version is mental action. This idea contends that one needs only to believe strongly enough to attain something. Need something? Visualize receiving it. Money will manifest for you if you envision it or ask for it. Sometimes the toxic reverse is expressed as well: if you are sick you must have done something wrong because you obviously did not visualize health strongly enough.

There is physical action – take what you want – and mental action – imagine what you want. Certainly, both of these actions can be used for good. If you wish to be stronger, take mental action by deciding to spend half an hour each day on working out and then take physical action by following through and exercising every day. If you want to be calmer, take the mental action to challenge yourself to do yoga or learn how to meditate, then take physical action by doing yoga or by sitting your body down on the cushion to meditate.

What is never okay is to try to overcome resistance, whether by using physical force or by trying to wear somebody down with daily messages. When a person says no it means no. No does not mean maybe and maybe does not mean yes. And, no never means that the person simply hasn’t yet realized how wonderful you are. No is never a challenge. No means no.


  1. anne

    FYI – friendship always come first with me.

    (funny – i was just watching some of tori Amos video’s – think she has one with you , think it is called corn flake girls …she has some good ones, ..really like her – had a front row seat for her show – she was excellent)

    and I think there are alot of men who would love to be in your shoes,…musicians – have all the fun ! You could take it as a compliment?

    • anne

      of course ..

      ” But this is, as the other comment in this thread suggests, a sort of game-playing. To those who really mean no, it is no compliment”

      once a CLEAR no has been communicated -absolutely – means NO!!
      I have a 20 year old daughter – no fooling around here.

      Prefer to be professional anyway – my work/interest is about consciousness (unity) and have found many OL posts insightful. (Trying to build something and having musicians support would be fantastic !!)

      Music is such a great facilitator.

  2. JaneParhamKatz

    Interesting. I was raised by a completely guileless woman who never played games or manipulated people. She truly understood how to teach people to sing beautifully, and that was her world. The politics of being a professor in a university escaped her. She excelled, not by whom she knew, but by the results she achieved in her students, all of whom cherished her. Her only advice to me about romance was: You just fall in love with someone and get married. My father was Big Man on Campus, Most Eligible Bachelor, football star; he was not a social game player either. So, they fell in love and got married. She was widowed when she was only 48 (and I was 13) and continued loving my father until her last day on Earth, never wanting romance with anyone else.

    Being truly their daughter, I never understood how to say No when I meant Yes, and usually people knew I meant No. I always believed people when they told me No. Maybe I never reached my potential, but I love the way Truth and Honesty feel. I thought the Movies were mostly kind of silly. Also, I was fully occupied by studying academics and the French language, practicing my bassoon and piano, and soaking up literature and art.

    I do like to visualize things and more often than not they manifest IRL. But I enjoy the experience of visualizing even if it never plays out. So!

  3. Lisi-Tana

    Very true. No means no and often times to many, «no» simply means « try harder ». You’re right. This is what society teaches men in particular (but this is certainly not specific to men).

    On both sides of this push and pull war, there is hubris at play. From the aggressor it’s evident but from the one who eventually gives in, there is hubris too – pride in holding out, pride in deigning to give in. But this is, as the other comment in this thread suggests, a sort of game-playing. To those who really mean no, it is no compliment.

    This idea of «take what you want » is embedded in every crevice of world history. ‘Manifest Destiny’ was one very aggressive example of this.
    «Expand across the land.
    This belongs to you.
    It’s yours by right.
    Never mind the people who already inhabit the land, the people who keep saying «no» – and mean it!»

    Oh, the impotent rage of not being heard!

    • richard holbrook

      as a white man growing up in the 60s/70s, the messages around masculinity and seduction were more often than not toxic. to think that hugh hefner was positioned as a socially acceptable, even enviable, example of a successful man now makes me shudder.

      obviously this toxicity goes much deeper than sex and male/female interactions. i believe it likely stems from the same white (male) supremacy that still holds us back in so many ways.

      “no means no” unless i can force, coerce. trick, or convince you otherwise represents an underlying assumption of entitlement, imho.

      as with racism, oppression of women and minorities, and other behaviors meant to sustain the status quo – only the oppressor can effect change in these matters.

      well said ottmar, bravo for standing in truth and speaking up for change.

      • JaneParhamKatz

        Very helpful to my understanding.


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