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Real Stories

When a woman says no in a mans world

An article pinged up on my social media and it blew.my.mind. The author (forgive me because I don’t know who she was to credit) talked about how she had never been taught to say no and that she was teaching her toddler the importance of saying it. She used an example of a game that the child’s grandmother played with her and the child didn’t like it. Her mother taught her how to say no and the game stopped. The child was able to tell her Grandmother ‘No. (stop.) I don’t like this.’

The realisation hit me like a ton of bricks that I, also hadn’t been taught this and as a result in my life I’d put up with a lot of bad stuff because I struggled to say no.  I felt like I deserved what happened because it must have somehow been my fault.   I wondered how many other women were like this and as I scrolled through the comments on the article there were hundreds of women saying the exact same thing.

Why is this important? Why does it matter that this wasn’t a discussion held in our homes? Isn’t saying no supposed to be easy?

I am part of the #MeToo movement and the really sad truth is that I know very few women who aren’t. Saying no didn’t matter. It wasn’t even that my voice wasn’t heard, it didn’t EXIST and my feelings and body didn’t matter to anyone but me. Saying no didn’t make a difference because it was ignored when I did. This is what saying no means in a ‘mans world.’ We are often not heard. We are labelled as troublemakers for speaking up and defending ourselves. Our names are pulled down from the moon and dragged through the dirt. If we say no to a man we are labelled with derogatory  names so the world sees us as HE wants US to be seen and the truth of how HE should be seen is simply hidden.

So we hide our truths. We stay quiet because our ‘no’s’ are ignored. We live in silent pain doing anything we can to stop our soul from crying. Was my no not loud allowed enough? Did I not make myself clear? Why did he not listen?

We know not all men are threats to women, there’s millions of fabulous men but there are enough of them that are that make this a ‘mans world.’ If you can’t trust a police officer, the people who are supposed to keep us safe then who can we trust? News articles and comments fly about telling us women how to keep safe when the real issue is that these types of men need to be punished for predatory behaviour, they need to be stopped and women need to be heard when we tell our truth.

So I go back to my question. Why is it important that we were never taught to say no? It’s important because it never occurred to parents that we NEEDED to be taught. It was taken for granted that when the time came we would just be able to say it. It’s not just about saying no, it’s about the way we say it. Say it with a kick. Would it have made a difference in some of my own situations? There are so many that I can honestly say not in all of them but in others I believe it would have which is why it matters that I was never shown this lesson.

I will be teaching my daughter the importance of saying no. I don’t want her to put up with unacceptable behaviour because she can’t say no. There will always be people out there wanting to cause harm to others and it isn’t enough that I teach her to say no to unacceptable behaviour, the world needs to change and the behaviour needs to become unacceptable to everyone, the carpet needs to be lifted completely so these dark truths can not be swept under it.

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by Emmy Bourne

New mama, ex breakdancer, spiritual guru lacking insight right now with a big love for my cat. Wandering round photographing my way through life.

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