“No?” He looked at me incredulously as if I had put my full weight behind a knee to the nuts. “I really appreciate it, but I don’t want to go out on a date. Thank you though.” When I finished speaking, I immediately knew that he would begin attacking my character, as well as my appearance. I’m not saying that I necessarily deem this man’s opinion important, but it is strange that if I had used another man as an excuse, I would have been met with more respect. If I had turned him down by saying “sorry, but I have a boyfriend,” I know his reaction would have been very different.
Why does our society think that being ‘owned’ carries more weight than the simple word “no?” Recently, we’ve seen a tremendous and important societal shift that holds people accountable for their actions. One thing that will definitely come out of this change is the universal realization that “no” means “no,” and it requires zero explanation. On college campuses, this shift will take more time to adjust to. At university, a female’s reputation is controlled by the rumors spread by a male who decides that rejection is not tolerable. A woman can instantly become a “whore” in
a matter of seconds when she upsets a fragile ego. “Bitch” is slung around seconds after a compliment when the praise doesn’t receive the correct response. How can we aim to fix a seemingly hopeless situation?
The always progressive, perpetually sunny California is leading this new movement of acceptance and realization. Stars have been coming forward, discussing their extreme cases that all started with simply saying “no.” Even on a smaller scale, when rejection is met with verbal assault, we need to take a stronger stance. Nobody deserves to be met with slander because they chose to say “no.” Everyone can help fix the problem by not letting a refusal end in yelling. There is no need to apologize for exercising your right to say “no,” and there is no reason to follow a crude compliment with a forced “thank you.” It will be hard, but still possible, to weed out those few inappropriate people and talk to them to make sure they realize that their actions are unacceptable.