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How to say no? The question that has popped into the mind of every girl at least once but I suspect hundreds of times throughout her life.
How to say no and make it sound like a no? How to NOT make a no sound like “try harder” or “convince me”
How do you say no politely enough to not offend? To let a man down without being punched in the face, having a drink thrown at you or called awful names (which I have seen happen way too many times to not think it is the “norm”)
I cringe every-time I smile even though all I want to do is pull my hand away. “You don’t get to touch me” makes way for “ahh, thank you that is so sweet” and I hate myself for it.
Every time I drop the “oh sorry I have a boyfriend” line even though my relationship status has no bearing on the situation at hand, I really get angry at myself for adding to the problem. For allowing and adding to the myth that another man is the only reason I am resisting the attention.
Put simply, not being interested isn’t enough of a NO. But it should be. How do you, as a woman. Say no to a man who doesn’t have the slightest intention of listening to anything you have to say?
How do you say no to a man who doesn’t ask first? Who assumes you are ripe for the picking because of what you are wearing or your friendly smile.
I work in music, I am a broadcaster and I can categorically tell you that nearly all of the men I have interviewed for any radio position I have held, have thought there was something more. Be it a waist grab whilst we take the obligatory selfie, the flirting on and off air which often leaves other people in the room feeling awkward. And yes there are other people in the room, the cameras in tv and radio studios don’t show you the managers, pluggers and mates who don’t say anything when the presenter is being asked for her number and clearly looks uncomfortable. Maybe it isn’t so clear, maybe they don’t see me sweating, wondering how I can get out of this one without offending the rapper or blocking my own career by being labelled as stuck up.
This piece has already been riddled with questions, but I’ll ask you another: how do you protect yourself as a woman. In music, against your colleagues? Because that’s what the musicians are. To me.
I have only ever called out sexual assault twice in my life, being completely transparent I do not know how many times I have been assaulted or harassed but I remember the two times I said something, decided I wasn’t going to shrug it off and I was going to confront the pervert.
The first time I was told that I took it the wrong way, when a DJ grabbed my bum at the afterparty of an awards show when I was saying hello. That he was drunk and obviously didn’t mean it and I shouldn’t be too harsh on him because I did look nice and who could blame him? I even comforted him and told him not to worry, not to drink so much and no. I wouldn’t tell his girlfriend but he needed to do better.
The second time was worse. No one listened. I confronted the person who did it and their friends. I was met with silence, mostly.
I explained that being told that someone “has no control over themselves” when I am around and that I need to leave before he “does something” wasn’t the way you tell a girl you fancy her. That following her around a party, grabbing her repeatedly by the waist & the arm and tracing the scar that runs down their chest with your finger, uninvited. Just isn’t acceptable. And no-one said a word.
Actually sorry, the man who assaulted me told me to never speak to him again and then unfollowed me on twitter.
I haven’t come to tell this fraction of my story for retribution, I’m not here to make any man shake at the thought of me spilling the beans on the inappropriate behaviour that seems to casually happen everyday.
I am here to ask you the question, just one more because this really isn’t an exam: after everything that you have read, on twitter, in the news, maybe even what I have written here in this article.
How exactly am I meant to say no?