I’ve come across a few posts arguing that we should be teaching ‘our daughters’ that it’s OK to say ‘no’. Now, I understand that such posts come from mothers worried about the sexualisation of children and the idea is that girls agree to do things (e.g. sex) they’re not really ready for because the boy pushes them into it. The thing is, though, if the problem is that boys are too sexual and pushy, why not teach them to not do that – to respect a girl’s feelings and her right to make up her own mind without being cajoled? By focusing on teaching the girl what to do in that situation, you’re suggesting it’s her fault. As though the boy is blameless because he can’t help it – that’s just the way boys are. And if boys are naturally pushy when it comes to sex – does that mean they can’t help it when things get a little out of control – when the girl does say no?
It also suggests that all girls really want to say no but can’t because they’re, what, weak? Afraid? Too influence by peer pressure? I find that pretty patronising. Besides, if girls are being peer pressured into having sex, imagine the pressure on boys, who are supposed to want it all the time and are almost encouraged to try to trick a girl into sleeping with them. And what if the girl wants to? Oh, wait, that could never happen – a girl could not possibly make a rational, informed decision that she wants to have sex because girls aren’t as into it as boys – unless, of course, the girl’s a slut.
It all comes down to this archaic myth that women don’t have sex drives. We do. And while it’s true that most men want to have sex more often than women, this isn’t always the case. Newsflash: some women have higher sex drives than some men. And there’s no evidence that women enjoy sex less than men. In fact, it makes sense that they enjoy it more because they can orgasm more times.
So why teach all girls to say no? Why not teach them to make their own decision, without outside influence, and then have the dignity and strength to say, ‘this is what I want and you’re not going to change my mind.’
And while we’re at it, why not tell boys that it’s OK for them to not want to, too. The only thing that’s not OK is trying to force someone else into it when they don’t want to – that is unacceptable. That is the behaviour we need to stamp out, not girls saying yes.