A Woman’s No Means No, Then No, Then No, Then Yes

Dave Gutteridge
From the Gutt
Published in
12 min readAug 25, 2022

--

Scene from an old black and white movie where a man is hitting on a woman who is clearly saying no.

“I thought it was supposed to be an admirable quality for a man to keep trying.”

That was something a friend said to me, in a conversation that was partly about how it seemed to him that modern “woke” culture was making him feel like a criminal for actions that he had been raised to believe made him a good person.

Specifically, we were talking about how a man persisting even after a woman has said “no” is a bad thing. A woman’s, or anyone’s, “no” should be taken at face value and respected. Obviously. If a woman says “no” to sex, for example, then to act otherwise would be rape. Even men like my friend, the one who said the quote above, knows that.

But, before sex is on the table, when it’s just about asking someone for a date, then the stakes seem to change in the minds of some men. Not only is it not such a big deal to push a little to see if a woman really, really means “no,” it’s even an admirable thing to do. Being a man means not quitting at the first sign of trouble, to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, to take control of a situation and not just leave things to fate. Never mind that “fate” often means, “other people’s choices.”

Anyway, my friend has in his past pursued a woman, she turned him down a few times in some way or another, but then after a little persistence on his part, she eventually said yes. And, importantly, they both went on to have a long term, mutually happy relationship.

I can see how he’d wonder why he’s being told his past, and potentially future, actions are wrong, when it seems to him that everyone involved does well as a result of them. Doesn’t an eventual “yes” wipe the slate clean of any previous “no”?

Life is more than dating

The idea of not taking no for an answer goes way beyond dating or gender. How many stories of successful business people, writers, actors, politicians, or whoever else are legitimized by narratives of how they faced adversity, people telling them that they can’t or won’t do it, and then later they proved everyone wrong? How many apps do you download that say, “would you like to rate us now, or later?” The option to say “no” to rating the app isn’t even offered.

--

--

Dave Gutteridge
From the Gutt

I don't post often because I think about what I write. Topics include ethics, relationships, and philosophy.