OT: Alternate meanings for the word “NO”

I love the infinite potential for variety in language…I saw a post somewhere this week that went something like “Tear and tier are pronounced the same but tear and tear are different…aghhhh!”   Some words have a varied array of meanings depending on context.  Others are more simple.  Take the word NO for example.  NO just means “NO”.  It doesn’t mean “convince me, seduce me, coerce me, force me,” or more recently, as in a horrible news story I read this week, “drug me so I don’t have the ability to object.  NO just means NO –


“a negative used to express dissent, denial, or refusal, as in response 

to a question or request”

Reading the news story, I was reminded of the story of a young woman I knew in college.  One summer night when she was 21, she went out on the town with her girlfriends.  They had dinner and went to some clubs.  There was plenty of music and plenty of alcohol.  She was having a great time laughing and dancing.  They ran into a group of young men…friends of one of her friends.  She began talking to one of the young men.  He was tall and good looking…recently discharged from the military he said as he rubbed his hand rather sheepishly across his very unfashionable crew cut.  She didn’t mind – she liked him, he made her laugh.  As it drew near closing time, and people began to couple off, the young man asked her if she’d like to come back to his place for a while.  She wasn’t a fool, she knew the language and she was attracted to him, but she was confident that things would go no further than she was willing to go.  She didn’t really even know how far she was willing to go at that moment.  When they arrived at his apartment, one he shared with two other young men, they listened to music in the common room for a while.  When his roommates came home she followed him to his room for more privacy.  Kissing led to petting, petting led where petting leads, and not much later, she was past the point she was willing to go.  She said wait…she said stop…she said no, but he wasn’t listening and he was much larger and much stronger than her.  Before she knew it, it was over.

She rolled to her side.  As she lay there wondering if that had really just happened, he pulled her close, kissing her shoulder and whispering in her ear that she was welcome to stay the night, or he could drive her home.  She murmured something about walking home and quickly dressed.  He insisted he’d drive her…it wasn’t safe for her to walk alone he said.  She couldn’t understand why her safety would be a concern – he had just raped her…or had he?  Rapists were violent strangers with knives who assaulted women in dark alleys, not good looking, charming friends of  friends.  He wasn’t violent, he didn’t have a weapon.  He hadn’t really even hurt her physically.

She thought about all of it as he drove her home.  When she went inside, she didn’t stand under a hot shower and scrub her skin raw or curl into a ball and weep uncontrollably as is often the depiction of victims in film.   Oddly, she didn’t even feel particularly violated.  Mostly she felt stupid.  SHE had gone out that night.  SHE had been drinking.  SHE had worn a miniskirt and sheer summer top. SHE had gone back to his apartment.  She wondered if SHE wasn’t as responsible as he was.

She never reported the incident.  She wasn’t sure there was anything to report.  She told her friends what had happened and he became X-the Rapist to all of them.  When she ran into him in the same club some time later she was shocked when he tried to renew their “acquaintance.”   Obviously, his version of what had happened between them was completely different than hers…he was clueless to the fact that he had used his superior size and strength to force sex after she had repeatedly said NO.  She stared at him for a long moment and then turned and left the club.  She never saw him again.

If it seems like I know an awful lot about what this girl was thinking, it is because SHE is ME.  I don’t write this now to gain condolence or comfort.  I made my peace with it a long time ago.  It is one of the events in my past that have shaped me into the woman I am today.  I tell the story because of the shock and dismay I feel when I see stories like Jada’s (linked above) and realize how little things have changed.

Sexual assault is defined as any non-consensual sexual act which is forced by one or more persons on another. Forms of sexual assault can include rape, sexual harassment, or any other form of unwanted sexual contact. In the US rape is, in many places, further divided into Date Rape, Acquaintance Rape, Drug Facilitated Rape and Statutory Rape.   RAINN cites that 2/3 of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.  Clearly, the message is not getting through.

When this happened to me in 1990,  victim shield laws were fairly new and such things as date or acquaintance assaults were just beginning to be taken as seriously as violent, forcible rape.  The cultural context that made my assailant think his actions were fine and me think they were my fault has changed, but obviously it hasn’t changed enough.  We all need to educate our children, regardless of gender, that NO very simply means NO.  It doesn’t matter how someone was dressed, it doesn’t matter how far things progressed to that point, it doesn’t matter if the partner is male or female.  NO means NO period.  Full stop.

I honestly don’t know how to address the type of individual who thinks it acceptable to steal consent completely by drugging a victim…or the depravity of people who queue up to watch it happen in person and on YouTube.


It’s a serious subject for a Sunday, so I thank you for allowing me to speak my piece.


27 comments on “OT: Alternate meanings for the word “NO”

  1. katie70 says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I saw on Yahoo this past week that a police officer had drugged, raped his wife and filmed the whole thing, he did this many times. Finally she found his tapes and had him leave there home. After texting him that he had raped her and telling him that she was taking their children and leaving, he killed her, the children and her mom in January.

    Rape is rape when there is no consent. That means the stranger or the person who you share your life with, no mean no and not being able to say no is also not right.

    • obscura says:

      I can’t even imagine the crushing betrayal of trust involved that woman. What a horribly disturbed person he must be…and all the while hiding in plain sight behind a badge!

      Agree 100% that it doesn’t matter who it is…the NO carries equal weight.

      • katie70 says:

        The more I think about this the more I remember. I had a high school friend who’s boyfriend (a couple years older and a friend) who decided he wanted sex with her even though she didn’t and raped her. She got pregnant and he would not even take responsibility for his child, she was 16 and had great parents and us a friends.

        The other thing that is hard for people to understand is at least in Wisconsin under the age of 17 the child is to young to even give consent.

  2. No does mean NO! Thanks for writing this.

  3. jazzbaby1 says:

    (((Obscura))) It blows my mind that people still try to excuse these acts of violence. Thank you for telling your story.

    • obscura says:

      My heart breaks for this girl (and others like her) who have gone through what they have only to have moronic commentors on news sites in 2014 say things like “well, what was she doing drinking at 16” or “we don’t really know what her story is”

      Here’s the story – she was drugged and sexually assaulted with zero chance to consent…that’s the only story you need to know about her. Everything else about her life is irrelevant.

      Every story shared raises awareness I hope 🙂

      • Leigh says:

        I agree. I believe that the legal definition of rape should be taught in civics classes, so that it is inescapable, regardless of cultural background. The inability to consent is legally the same as not giving consent. No means NO, and to persist is to commit a criminal act. There are no acceptable excuses for sexual assault, and those who do it should be prosecuted, without the justice system blaming the victim. Thank you for having the courage to tell your story and to speak out.

        • obscura says:

          I’m going to do a little recon on the teens I know well about this issue. It is simply unbelievable to me that in 2014, there is a person in the world…especially the industrial world, who is unaware of this information….and the youth of the assailants in the most recent horror stories is irrelevant. If you are old enough to be sexually active, you damn well better know the definition of sexual assault and the meaning of the word NO.

  4. Reblogged this on ramblings of an autistic wordsmith and commented:
    Thank you for writing and sharing this, obscura. This is important.

  5. Marie Astra says:

    Thanks for sharing this, and your experience. I’ve noticed all these posts on Tumblr about this subject, but I’m so old that it’s not something I experience now. But I’ve been noticing how men, especially groups of men, = look at young women as if they are walking past them to get a reaction and they become like packs of animals, sniffing a fertile female. Scary. Scary as hell. Sad because sh*t like this happened all the time since when I was a “young woman”. Nothing has changed. :((

    • Christine says:

      A guy chatted me this morning on FB, and he’s a friend of a friend, so I said hello back, cautiously. Asked him his business. His business was to make lewd suggestions, which I stated emphatically were not welcome. His response was… to ignore my denial. “Oh come on now”, he said after I told him he would not be getting lucky, “surely we can work something out.” I had to blink at that one twice. I told him to go fuck himself, as I surely wouldn’t be, then blocked him.

      It was a perfect example of me telling him, plain as day: “I don’t want this. I don’t want this talk, I don’t want your suggestions or your interest,” and him responding with a patronizing, humiliating attitude, and trying to negate my refusal of his interest with assurances that – of course I can be attained. It’s all for sale, right?


    • obscura says:

      That’s the thing that is so troubling to me…why is this behavior becoming so prevalent again? It seems like it tapered off for a while, but it is back with a vengeance. I wonder how much social media contributes to building these attitudes that are then acted on in real life.

      • Leigh says:

        I believe that it is the craving for control and power at any cost, that it is the ease of obtaining the drugs. Back when, it was mostly alcohol and brute force.

  6. Christine says:

    “Everything else about her life is irrelevant.” PERFECT. Perfect.

    A very similar thing happened to me. It’s how I lost my virginity. I said “no, I’m not ready”, I said “stop”, but – as you said – it was all over pretty quickly. And my thoughts were very much the same. What was that? Did I really accidentally consent? Rape doesn’t happen to girls like me. I’m smart, strong, opinionated… I must have actually “let” it happen. Mustn’t I? … It took me years to understand that, no, he was a foot taller than I was, and I was lying on my face. So, yeah.

    I actually think “NO” needs to be enlarged significantly to include “THE ABSENCE OF YES”. If she can’t say yes, for whatever reason? Put the girl down, and back away. If she’s not sure enough about sex with you to say an enthusiastic “let’s DO it” and help you unbutton your trou, then it’s not the right moment. If she can’t speak? SHE IS NOT A COLLECTION OF HOLES, YOU ASS. Find out what’s wrong with her. Maybe she’s been drugged. Maybe she’s had a stroke. Jeez.

    What is *wrong* with people?

  7. obscura says:

    I agree…something needs to change in how consent is defined. Legally, an unconcious person is unable to consent…so any activity is assault, but despite the presence of victim shield laws, it so often becomes a case of trying the victim anyway…if not in court, in social media. There is also this persistent mythology about “teases” that still circulates. I suppose it’s possible that there are some people who enjoy teasing, but more likely in most instances, that individual did not set out with the intention to tease, but has just changed his or her mind about going forward.

    Seriously – when did it become common or enjoyable to have sex with a completely inert partner? Or to get some sort of cheap thrill out of watching this happen during or after the fact. I remember being shocked when I watched The Accused years ago…that people would not only stand around and watch a sexual assault, but encourage it. What’s even more frightening to me now is how young these assailants are. Who are their parents, and where are they coming by the notions that this behavior is in anyway OK? It’s not…it’s criminal, plain and simple.

  8. Barsine says:

    Thank you very much for posting this.

    Unfortunately, every each and one of us have some experience, direct or indirect, in the matter. It may happen sometimes that something occurred when you were so young that you had not a clue of what that game was exactly until many years later; most of times the violence is only verbal but it does not hurt the less. I had many discussions with my mother (she was a striking beauty, a mix of Jane Saymour and Sophia Loren) when I was a teenager about this: “if nobody told you anything when you walk by the street it should mean that you are ugly” and then I wondered what was the good thing about hearing things so filthy to come back home crying. Then time passes, your body is not as beautiful as it was and you sigh with relief until you read or hear something that reminds you that fortunately that does not happen to you any more, but to others.

  9. obscura says:

    It really is a sad commentary that this subject resonates so profoundly with so many people. It’s not confined to a time or a place…horrible people come from all over the world.

    I know from experience that healing these kinds of hurts is a hard won process, to get past the idea that sexuality is inherently connected to dominance and control. But hopefully over time you come to realize that not all people are like that and that sexuality can be beautiful and empowering without being violent and dominant.

  10. Servetus says:


    I don’t understand the attraction of a motionless partner, but I assume that in that situation (as in much / most of rape?) it’s about the display of power, so the fact that the person isn’t resisting is a plus from the standpoint of the people committing the assault. This happens to be the way that’s done now and certain aspects of it (obtaining the chemicals) are easier than they used to be.

    • obscura says:

      I truly fear for my daughter….that I need to teach her sime of this stuff when she’s so young!

      • Servetus says:

        yeah. What do you say? Don’t ever accept a drink or food in a social setting from someone you don’t know?

        • obscura says:

          2014 version of not taking candy from strangers!

        • Leigh says:

          Yes, never accept a drink that you did not make yourself, or that you gid not see a trusted bartender make and pass it to you directly. Always order a bottle of beer and preferably open it yourself. Never walk away from the table and come back to your drink. Either finish it or throw it away. I know a woman who was drugged at a house party by the host or his “good friend.” No, you can’t trust people, not in this mad culture.

  11. […] is a consequence of sexism. I wish. That I haven’t been assaulted is probably mostly luck. Other people in similar circumstances to mine have not been so lucky. By misogyny, I mean the generalized hate of women as women and the resentment toward women […]

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