Just as we have lost sacredness around body, sexuality, yoni, sex, lust and are conflicted about its expression and embodiment in our lives, we are also, conflicted in the expression and utterance of the powerful word ‘No’ when it comes to embodying and expressing our body and sexuality boundaries to others.
“No” is a more powerful utterance than “Yes”, and there are places that we need to reinforce its usage especially when it comes to the personal space of body and sexuality!
I feel that we have some distorted notion that it is disrespectful and “unspiritual” to say ‘No’. Maybe it h
as something to do with the notion of not being in the YES Mind when saying No! What people don’t understand is that all ‘No’s are not conflicting with the YES! mind, and all ‘Yes’ are not rooted in the ‘YES’ mind.
We can say ‘No’ with a YES in the mind, and we can say ‘Yes’ with a NO in the mind. The YES in the m
ind is responding from a state that is rooted in a deep space of love, synchron
icity, compassion, and human values! Sometimes the only way to sustain that state of our mind is by saying a ‘No’. Otherwise, that very space that we intended to foster is deeply violated.
ABUSE AND UTTERANCE OF “NO”
The feminine in the bodies of women and men, girls and boys go through sexual abuse everywhere – in families, in neighborhood, in workplaces without every uttering the word ‘No’, and when it is uttered the masculine other doesn’t hear it, value it, acknowledge it or even, know how to hold space for it. In the Suryanelli rape case in Kerala, where this young 16 year old girl was rapped by over 40 well-reputed men from the community as she was moved from one place to the other, the question that came up in the court was “Why couldn’t the girl say No through all this? Why didnt she get up and run away.” 20 years later she is still waiting for justice! As sickening as it may sound, it is the judgement projected by men and women alike. But anyone who has ever been in a victim state of abuse knows that ‘No’ is the most difficult word to say sometimes when the abusers are people you are taught to trust, value and feel safe with!
In my own experience, I learned that it was easy to say “No” and stand up for my personal body when it came to the matters of strangers, classmates, college mates but when it came to the matter of love and the one I would most trust, there was immense guilt involved in saying “No”. As I engage in more conversations, I realize that most women in intimate relationships with another, find it difficult to say “No” when it comes to matters of their own body without feeling guilty.
In India especially, I find that generally women (and girls) go through all kinds of discomforts, body touching, leaning, and every possible violation of personal space by just going through it or physically moving away from it but never responding with “Please donot lean on me”, “Please could you go back a little”, “Please stand a little aside”, “Please do not touch me” or “I am uncomfortable”, or “No, I do not want to do that.”All these are powerful “NO” statements.
Girls grow up listening to ‘No’ all the time everywhere on the planet.
No, you cant do that. You are a girl.
No, give it to him. You learn to give.
No, you cant play with boys.
No, you cant stay out late.
No, cover yourself up.
No, you cant drink because you are a girl.
No, you cant smoke because you are a girl.
You never say ‘No’ to your husband.
And if you say ‘No’ to an older person because they make you uncomfortable, you will be the one seen as the problem. I remember when I first returned to India, my experience with saying ‘NO’. I was at a bank teller counter. It was my turn and there were all these men literally crowding around me so close trying to get the tellers attention when it was my turn. I was the only woman. I turned around and said, “Could you please go back a little?” I was looked at like I was the accused. Of course, it has not deterred my No but I realize that it is so painful in India to exercise No as a woman or girl.
Somehow through all these negative reinforcements, as women, we learn to associate guilt, and the feeling of being the accused with the word “No”.
Now let us look at our sons.
Do our sons hear the word said ‘No’ enough times in their growing up (of course, as long as the sons pursuits are masculine in nature. Sons who are drawn towards feminine traits, hear No enough times.).
Do our sons know to honor the ‘No’ said to them?
Now Reflect upon this:
When Women donot know to say ‘No’ when it comes to the matter of their personal body space; and When Men donot know how to hold space for the word ‘No’ when it comes to personal body space of the other – We have a disastrous situation!
Definitely, Women being the one who takes things into her, she needs to have the freedom to exercise her ‘No’ when it comes to her body and sexuality space in all its aspects – from touch to penetration.
Men on the other hand, need to understand to honor the ‘No’ when it comes to a woman’s body space. Her ‘No’ needs to be heard, acknowledged and honored!
So I leave you today with these words.
Have we taught our sons to hold space, acknowledge, understand and respond to the ‘No’ of our many daughters, women and girls?
Have we taught our daughters, our girls, our women, to say ‘No’ whenever their personal space is violated without feeling guilty?
Do we as parents honor the ‘No’ of our daughters and sons when it comes to matters of personal body space?
Do husbands know to acknowledge and honor the ‘No’ of their wives and daughters when it comes to the matter of personal space?
Maybe it is time to look at mythology, folk tales, movies, novels and other spaces which deeply violate and cloud the meaning of the word ‘No’ when a girls says it by romanticizing it.
When force of any kind is the response to a girl’s “No”, it is Rape in every form or shape or color – be it in a marriage or in a relationship or anywhere! It is not romantic even if the doer is a tall dark handsome guy!
LET US STOP ROMANTICIZING SUCH FANTASIES FOR OUR DAUGHTERS AND SONS!
TEACH OUR DAUGHTERS TO SAY ‘NO’ AND NOT FEEL GUILTY!
TEACH OUR SONS TO RESPECT THE ‘NO’ OF WOMEN AND GIRLS!