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Annals of campus victimology: “No means no”–and now “yes means no,” too

May 5, 2015

My latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:

Claremont, California: kind of like Baltimore

Writing for the CMC Forum, the official student publication at California’s Claremont-McKenna College, Jordan Bosiljevac says that not only does no mean no, but yes means no, too:

“At five, relatives used to kiss my cheeks even as I winced and turned away. At the tender age of twelve, I was taught that my bra straps and thighs deserved detention because they distracted boys at school. At sixteen, my boyfriend assured me that most girls liked this—I just needed to relax. So at 20, in someone’s room after a party, ‘no’ was scary and unfamiliar to me. These incidents, unfortunately, are not unique to me. In discussing this experience with friends, we coined the term ‘raped by rape culture’ to describe what it was like to say yes, coerced by the culture that had raised us and the systems of power that worked on us, and to still want ‘no.’ Sometimes, for me, there was obligation from already having gone back to someone’s room, not wanting to ruin a good friendship, loneliness, worry that no one else would ever be interested, a fear that if I did say no, they might not stop, the influence of alcohol, and an understanding that hookups are ‘supposed’ to be fun.

“Consent is a privilege, and it was built for wealthy, heterosexual, cis, white, western, able-bodied masculinity. When society has taught some of us to take up as little space as possible, to take all attention as flattery, and to be truly grateful that anyone at all could want our bodies or love, it isn’t always our choice to say yes.

“Consent as a privilege doesn’t just happen in sex. It happens for those of us who give too much in friendships without knowing how to ask for reciprocation, who let doctors touch us in ways that are triggering because we don’t want to make trouble, who dance with handsy strangers because our friends already left the party, who stick around in toxic relationships because we don’t know if we’re allowed to expect better. When you’re poor, disabled, queer, non-white, trans, or feminine, ‘no’ isn’t for you.

***

“We cannot trust the state to defend consent and bodily integrity—not in Baltimore, Ferguson, Los Angeles, or Claremont. In this moment, we have to throw out legislation entirely to realize that justice for our communities wasn’t built into those systems anyway.”

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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One Comment
  1. Lastango permalink

    Jordan can probably rest easy… it’s hard to imagine anyone stupid enough to say “yes” to her, or put her in a situation in which she might need to offer a yes/no of her own.

    I’d suggest she buy a cat or three, but since the cats would have no choice they could tell her “justice for our communities wasn’t built into those systems anyway”.

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