Over the last few months, we’ve had a lot of women come forward and share stories of how (and in some cases, who) they were sexually harassed or assaulted. The response to the #MeToo movement…varied, to say the least. Some negative responders opted not to leave their vacation home in DeNile. Others vocalized Mike Pence’s rule of women, which is to not be alone in the room with a woman without his wife holding his hand. Neither of these responses are helpful. Denial and shaming are exactly why victims don’t come forward, and the “all women are sexual pieces of meat, so don’t catch yourself alone in a room with them” theory doesn’t help women in their careers.
People, if we want the assault accusations to stop, then we need to get better at teaching consent and respect. To get the conversation started, I would like to offer twelve tips for accepting the word “no.”
1. If they don’t want to have sex with you, don’t have sex with them.
If you ignore this rule, you are committing a crime. Plain and simple.
2. Don’t try to blackmail or persuade someone to have sex, especially if they’ve already said no.
Despite what bad chick flicks and horrible fan fiction will tell you, the cat and mouse chase isn’t romantic. When people say no to sex, they mean it.
Even if you don’t think it’s romantic, ask for permission before plowing through. Even if you think it’s okay to move forward, just ask. Better to be safe than sorry.
4. Don’t make the other party feel guilty for saying no.
Sex might be fun, but it’s not the only way to pass the time. And if you are that upset, try the Scream into the Void app. It’s actually quite therapeutic.
5. Catcalling isn’t flattering.
Drooling over a stranger’s body parts doesn’t make you look like a cool dude, it makes you look like an entitled prick. So stop it.
6. Work is not an appropriate place for sexual activity.
Most workplaces see romantic relationships between coworkers as conflicts of interest anyway. So contrary to what Michael Scott will tell you, the workplace is neither a dating website nor a mating ground.
7. If they’re underage, DON’T EVEN GO THERE.
It’s illegal. It’s disgusting. It’s illegal. It’s emotionally scarring. Did I mention it’s illegal? Bottom line, just don’t.
8. If they’re drunk, unconscious, or otherwise incapacitated, they aren’t in a great position to give consent.
True, we haven’t quite worked out the “what if both parties are drunk?” problem yet. All the more reason to start the conversation now.
9. Regardless of what gender you are, you’re allowed to say no to sex.
Even if you’re halfway through, you can say no. And if you’re asked for sexual favors you’re uncomfortable with, you can refuse.
10. If you are guilty of assault or harassment, don’t lie or make excuses.
Despite what some might think, human beings aren’t allergic to humility. We all need to get better at making smart choices as well as taking responsibility for our actions. And sometimes, that means admitting we did something wrong, accepting the consequences for those choices, and taking steps to make sure we don’t do it again. The more we work on it, the better we can get at it.
11. Don’t support people who’ve been accused.
Not only does it make you look bad, but it enforces an environment where victims can’t come forward. If there’s no weight to the accusations, then there’s no harm in investigating them. Better to investigate a hundred potential lies than to ignore one undeniable truth. He might be the nicest person you know, but if he’s guilty of a crime then he’s guilty of a crime.
12. Bottom line, don’t be a jerk.