Men need to learn to respect ‘No’

Bob Satnan - Contributing Columnist

We’re well into 2016, yet some men still have the mindset of Og the caveman.

As reported by Jaya Saxena on, two publications this week ran pieces about how men can turn “No” into “Yes” in regard to sexual advances toward women. In Men’s Fitness, writer Nick Savoy offered that he would “share some proprietary techniques for turning a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’: 1) at the bar, 2) on a date, 3) in bed, and 4) in a relationship.”

As Saxena reported: “In the article, (Savoy) outlines how to ignore a woman’s boundaries, which is basically summarized by his first tip: Plow ahead anyway.” Men’s Fitness rightly took some harsh criticism for the piece, which it has removed from its website.

The other article, in Complex, discusses how people can move from the “friend zone” into a relationship with the object of their desire. In essence, writer Trace William Cohen leverages a piece in Psychology Today to contend that if you act like a friend, that is how the other person will always see you. I didn’t find Cohen’s piece to be as noxious as Savoy’s, but its message still came across as, “How to get what you want just because you want it.”

I shared Saxena’s report with Lori Haney, executive director of Citizens Against Spouse Abuse, and she was as repulsed by the Men’s Fitness and Complex pieces as I was.

“Rape is rape. No really means no,” Haney said. “As an advocate, it is that black-and-white of an issue. It’s not about coercing somebody – they have not given you their consent. No means no.”

Savoy’s “plow ahead anyway” mindset is especially troubling.

“What kind of message are we sending to men? That you don’t have to respect somebody else’s personal boundaries?” she said. “At the very least it is disrespectful; you are coercing somebody into something they are not comfortable with. At the most heinous, they have not given you their consent and to press on is rape.”

Cohen opens his piece saying being relegated to friendship is the worst place to be on Earth. It is an immature view of male-female relationships, and frankly it comes across as arrogant. Haney found it sadly common due to the gender roles our society has assigned to men and women.

“It is so unfair to both men and women that we as a society train women that they are supposed to accept and appreciate men’s advances, that there is some sort of obligation if a guy likes you … he’s the conqueror and I’m the one to be conquered,” she said. “As a person I am entitled to be attracted to whom I choose to be attracted to, and I am entitled to say, ‘No,’ when I want to. Just because you are attracted to me … I am not obligated to reciprocate.”

A lot of these issues are tied to the inability to handle rejection. Just because someone declines your request for a date or other romantic advances does not make you a lesser person; you become a lesser person when you react with bullying behavior or profane name-calling. We need to teach young people of both genders that being told “No” is not a sign of personal failure.

“Rejection hurts for everybody … but rejection is a part of life,” Haney said. “If we are not expected to learn how to cope and deal with that we are not whole people, we are not well-grounded, healthy human beings.”

The “plow ahead, get what you want” mindset of the Men’s Health and Complex articles only compounds the problem.

“I think that kind of writing, that kind of belief is actually very insulting to men,” Haney said. “We as human beings should be expected to exercise self-control. When you put that kind of writing out there for men, I think it insults their intelligence. The whole ‘rape culture’ mantra – that is what this is.”

Bob Satnan

Contributing Columnist

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