So often a seemingly innocent, flirtatious advance can proceed with or without encouragement. Miscommunication can evolve. When it does, what happens can turn regrettable. Suddenly, one partner might face a case of unwelcome abuse.
To avoid this, it is essential today that two people convey their honest feelings upfront.
After the fact is too late.
In prior years, many men felt a challenge. They had to prove their masculinity through sexual conquest. Friends would ask tauntingly “did you score?”
Guys believed as Churchill had presumptuously stated: A lady when she says no, she means maybe. When a lady says maybe she means yes. And a true lady never says yes.
Fortunately, the times have changed.
Openness, honesty and mutual respect do prevail for much of the time. Still, it cannot be said that much can be upgraded to mean most. This transition remains a work in progress – one that will take time.
For the time being, unrestrained perseverance, on behalf of the aggressors, still often prevails. In this situation too many of their partners unwillingly succumb. Worn down, they believe it’s easier to give in than to resist further.
Today’s numbers, however, are trending downward. A positive trend.
Although the numbers of victimized individuals continue to grow fewer, this doesn’t in any way mean uncomfortable and unpleasant events don’t still occur all too regularly.
Those taking aggressive action clearly don’t understand the lasting psychological impact on the other individual. Her voice is not being heard. Rather than that person’s rights being recognized, they are violated.
yes, no, maybe…
What’s more, aggressors choose not to understand the context and actual usage of those three simple words: no, maybe and yes. They prefer to imagine a usage, their own misinterpretation. They feel compelled to conjure up and hear a non-existent voice of consent.
No thought is given to what might be going through the other person’s mind. What the person might be thinking is neither recognized nor even factored into the equation of what might be happening.
The aggressor only hears what he wants to hear. In theory, he accepts Churchill’s erroneous definitions that may have worked at the time. In this situation, these are still assumed to prevail. That guy desperately wants to ignore reality and believe “maybe” means “yes”.
The aggressor tends today to rationalize his aggressions. He conjures a consent that remains unuttered nor ever will be granted. Far easier to hear what one wants to hear than to listen to what words actually are being spoken or, at the same time, note those that never are uttered.
The question is how other people, strangers, might then interpret or misinterpret these events. How they would react. How they try to understand. How they offer their help.
To learn the answers to these questions, we reached out to a small group of several thoughtful individuals. We wanted to learn their current take on revisiting this subject.
About the Article
A look at how prevailing views on sexual abuse have changed over time.