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Why Women Can’t Say No

I am a liar.

I lie nearly every time I go to a party, to the mall, to my college classes, walking down the street.

The lies I tell don’t seem to faze me anymore, they just roll off my tongue and into the world with seemingly no consequence.

“I’m sorry, I have a boyfriend”, “I have an 8 am class tomorrow or else I totally would”, “I really need to go take care of my friend”.

I am nineteen years old, and I have been telling these lies since the sixth grade. Every time I find myself in a situation where a boy wants me, but I do not want him, I never have enough courage to just say “no”. Why not? “No” is the honest answer, and saying anything other than, “No, I don’t want to”, would make me a liar. But every time it comes to the moment where I am supposed to say my truth, it never comes out. Instead, lies exit my mouth in an attempt to make the boy feel better, to protect his ego, to make sure he knows it isn’t his fault, but it’s mine. I put the blame onto myself, apologizing emphatically and making sure any boy I talk to knows that he isn’t undesirable.

I am not the only girl in the world who feels the constant need to lie when it comes to a boy’s emotions. It is an innate reaction shared by girls everywhere. We are programmed to apologize, to take the blame for everything and to protect the man’s ego even if it means compromising our own.

I’ve gone through life feeling as though the lies I tell nearly every day have no consequence, but I am starting to feel the weight of my words resting on my shoulders. Every time I tell another boy the “I have a boyfriend” line, ten pounds are added on top of my head. I wasn’t raised to lie, and it is crushing me, shrinking me. The thought of having to tell a boy the truth, that I simply am not interested, is scarier than the lies I am telling.

Because every day, girls are being murdered for saying no. They are beat until they are unrecognizable for turning down a man. As a nineteen-year-old college student, one of my worst fears is the consequences that may befall me if I say no. I have heard countless stories of girls being raped, sexually assaulted, having their entire lives taken from them simply because they’re not interested in someone. And that terrifies me.

Women can’t say no because we live in a society that puts men on a pedestal. We, as women, are expected to stop everything we’re doing if a boy’s ego is hurt. We are taught that we shouldn’t wear shorts because boys may get distracted, or that if we’re raped it’s our fault, because boys will be boys, but girls are never allowed to be girls.

Why, in 2018, is this still the reality I live in? I remember being twelve years old, when the lies started, hoping that someday I could wear shorts without the fear of being catcalled or blamed for distracting a boy. I was so young, not even a teenager yet, praying that I could grow up in a world where things wouldn’t be my fault. Unfortunately, that change I want to see in the world has not come yet. The country I grew up in is now lead by someone who is the embodiment of a hurt ego. Society hasn’t changed in my favor, and I’m not sure it ever will.

When I began feeling the weight of my lies, I taught myself more about feminism and how to stand up for myself. I found my passion and my purpose in life and I use the power that gives me to do better for myself, to love myself. Slowly, I am beginning to learn how to say “no”. I try to stop feeling bad for rejecting boys who I do not want. Why should I be telling lies that add ten pounds to my shoulders just to protect the ego of some guy I met five minutes ago?

I will continue to hope that I can exist in our world without the constant fear that comes with being a woman. I will continue to empower myself and others to say “no”, to become warriors against the people that wants us to be smaller.

Everyday women are growing, evolving, and building the strength we need to fight back. I am proud to be a part of this army, and I am proud to be able to say “no”.