No means No – Or Does It?

I’d like to tell you a hypothetical story based on facts from what I’ve seen and heard countless times in the last 20 or so years of my life.

Suburban family – mom, dad, three children. Kelsey as 13, Billy is 7, and Maddie is 5. Mom and Dad both work outside the home, with mom being able to arrange her work schedule to be home when Maddie is not in morning kindergarten. Four bedroom house, so each child has his/her own bedroom. Rules are that each child is responsible for keeping their bedroom neat; Mom is helping Billy and Maddie learn how to dust and vacuum their rooms and change their bed linens while Kelsey is self-sufficient. The kids also help with chores around the house, such as clearing the table after dinner, taking their pile of clean clothes to their room and putting them away, etc.

Kelsey is content to spend time quietly in her room, doing homework or reading. Maddie is mommy’s little helper and likes to follow mommy around whatever she’s doing. Billy, however, is a rather sulking and sometimes aggressive child – people would say he’s “all boy”. He has no respect for his sisters’ belongings, taking things from their rooms and often breaking them in the process of playing with them. He is quick to stomp and slam doors when he doesn’t get his way. He sasses and talks back to his parents, who have adopted the decision to just ignore him when he does.

I’ll stop the story there, hoping you’ve gotten my intent. I’m sure you’ve seen it happen in public places – stores and restaurants – with other children. At some point, parents get frustrated and/or embarrassed and end up acquiescing to their child’s demands, regardless of how many times they have said “No!”.

Now, ‘little’ Billy is 19 years old and is on trial for rape of a minor girl. The facts unfold between the prosecution and the defense’s witnesses, and Billy is called to the stand. When it is the opposing prosecution’s turn to cross-examine the witness, Billy is asked if the girl said “No” to what he was doing to her. She has already testified that she’d said “No” multiple times but he didn’t stop. He agrees that she had said “No” more than once. When asked why he didn’t stop when she said “No” because, after all, “No” means “No”, Billy tries to explain but is cut off by the prosecution’s attorney. The defense attorney asks to again question his witness, and his attorney then asks him why he didn’t stop when the girl kept saying, “No”. Billy then explained that he knew that “No” didn’t always mean “No”, that sometimes it meant you needed to work harder to get a “Yes”, so he kept going, past every “No”, believing she’d eventually give in and say, “Yes”.

But no means no, doesn’t it? Where would he have gotten that belief from????

9 thoughts on “No means No – Or Does It?

  1. So, your your supposition is that permissive parenting causes (or may cause the thinking that leads to) rape? That’s quite a stretch.

    I was raised feral by permissive parents, and true, I don’t have the best boundaries (I had to find them for myself), but i’d never rape someone.

    And how do you explain women who WANT to be choked, forced, etc…? However distasteful some find it, they do exist, so there’s plenty of mixed messages to go around when it comes to sex.

    That’s why, especially these days, with the “me too” movement, you don’t even approach someone unless you’re invited, and even then you’d best be reassured every step of the way lest you find yourself in that very same courtroom at worst, or out of a job at least.

    But I appreciate the idea. Thanks for the blog and and the thoughts that it inspires.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That is an interesting perspective and worth some thought. I understand that parents might give the impression that no doesn’t always mean no but would that really mean that a 19 year old doesn’t understand consent? I’m not sure. I do think it’s a very good point though. As parents we do need to stick to our yes and no.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I appreciate your thoughts and understand why you might think my statements are a stretch. I suppose that’s a plausible thought and thank you for making me re-think that. My intent, however, was to relate how entitlement and poor and/or lazy parenting are what I believe are responsible for the way some of the children and teens act today. I’ve known several people who have stated and acted in ways where they wanted to be their child’s “best friend”, and I’ve seen how that makes them leery of disciplining their child for fear that they’ll lose that role. I believe many parents don’t hold their children to consequences for bad behavior. My post was, in a way, to make people see that, when their child does get into trouble as an adult, how they reared that child can contribute to that!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for your comments! I chose one easy-to-understand example of how poor/lazy parenting skills CAN contribute to creating an adult who doesn’t understand consequences for bad behavior. Maybe I’m just tired of having to go through the grocery store listening to a child screaming for 15 minutes because of whatever reason, and a parent simply choosing to ignore it while the rest of us wish our masks came with earplugs! I remember my younger brother being taken out of a restaurant by my mother as a child for throwing a tantrum, and both went to the car without a meal while the rest of us ate ours. She felt a responsibility to the other patrons and staff not to have to listen to the screaming and acting out, and she sacrificed her dinner to do so. My point is that many parents acquiesce these days rather than deal with or sacrifice themselves to teach their children a lesson.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you. I chose this scenario because I felt it made a strong point. Having said that, my post was meant to say how today’s society seems to have a lot of parents who succumb to a child’s tantrums because it’s easier, and this tends to raise entitled children/adults who don’t understand consequences for behavior because they never learned them!

    Liked by 1 person

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