When He Won’t Take ‘No!’ for an Answer

. 10/15/2010 . 20 Comments


Most women’s lives are spent in desperate pursuit of approval and love from, and relationships with men. Women anxiously ask themselves am I slim enough, pretty enough, are my hair and nails done well enough, am I freaky enough, am I pure enough? Many females are terrified about the possibility of becoming an Old Maid, though none of us has ever seen such a person and our only point of reference is a card game.

Parents, in their unaware ignorance, often encourage these self-esteem killing games by subtly pushing their daughters to believe females are defined as women only when part of a couple.  In their minds the ultimate achievement for their daughter is not acquiring the title of CEO or Dr., but the title “Mrs.”

stop street harassment, just say no, why men don't listen to women, understanding female body language

Thus, as girls mature and change and begin to look more like adult women, the freedoms we enjoyed as children — running, getting dirty, climbing, jumping and hitting back are discouraged. Now we have to be pretty because that is what men like. We have to have a certain body size, because that is what men like. We’re told by those that claim to love us to “be nice” as we are brainwashed into believing it more important to please others than it is to please ourselves.

When we start to participate in the dating ritual, we’re warned to censure what we say to men because “you might hurt their feelings.” Girls are trained to behave in a demure, subservient fashion around males due to the fact that “men need to feel needed and respected.” Young women are asked with increasing frequency by the unenlightened: “so, do you have a boyfriend yet?” as if that makes her a better person or provides entre into a secret society.

A woman afraid of being abandoned or of not having a man like everyone expects her to has been set up. She will remain in a constant state of anxiety about losing the relationship she has, or stress incessantly about never finding one at all.  Females are both subtly and overtly trained to never say “No!” to men, due to the fear that he will leave her or (horror of horrors), she will end up SINGLE!

Women are socialized to be afraid of saying the word “NO!” to men.

Is it any wonder so many women have trouble establishing and maintaining clear boundaries with men in interpersonal relationships (and often in business or social settings as well)? “No!” has been trained out of girls, and it’s very painful to see them struggle to be okay with it.

The flip side of this coin makes an even more damaging impact on society.  As women have been brainwashed to never say “No!” to men, men have been concurrently socialized to discount or even ignore “No!” should a woman dare have the courage to speak up.

Along these lines, a great many men think a woman’s “No!” is nothing he needs to listen to or take seriously, but instead the beginning of a negotiation that he will ultimately win. His goal is to pressure any woman that says “No!” over and over again until she gives in and gives him what he wants.

Ben Atherton-Zeman is an outspoken advocate of women and has worked with several sexual assault prevention organizations. His excellent article Manufacturing Consent–Is it Rape? reviews tactics used by males to “manufacture” consent from females, two of which are coercion and convincing:

Most young men believe that sexual assault is wrong, but they define sexual assault as using physical force. While many reported sexual assaults involve physical force, most sexual assaults involve verbal or emotional force, manipulation, or the threat of physical force.

Coercion: Some victim/survivors are coerced into having sex or being sexual. The guy cares about the person he’s with, but cares about the sex more. Her saying “No” is ignored — he continues to ask and ask until her defenses crumble. She might even say “Yes,” just to get it over with. Her consent is therefore coerced and “manufactured” by him.

Convincing/Cajoling: The guy wants the sex to be consensual, but edits out all her responses that don’t sound like consent. He manufactures her consent by giving her a massage, kissing her, putting his arm around her — all towards the goal of “getting her to relax” and agree to become sexual.  She may “consent” in the end, but usually regrets it afterwards.

Society tells us that where women are weak, dainty and passive, men are strong, rough and aggressive. Men are taught to fight for what they want, and women to give in to men. Silly men are taught by other silly men that they are entitled to get what they want from women, otherwise they have the right to berate, demean or physically harm women for not giving it to them. They feel it is their right, you see.  This negative. anti-female socialization is one of the chief reasons men don’t take “No!” for an answer.

(continued on page 2)


Veteran social researcher, relationship advice columnist, author and radio host. Author of hundreds of articles on American and black culture, gender issues, singles, dating and relationships. Author of "Sucka Free Love!" , "The 24 Types of Suckas to Avoid," "The Black Church - Where Women Pray and Men Pray," and "Why Vegan is the New Black" all available on Amazon.Com. Her unique voice and insightful commentary have delighted fans and riled haters for 20 years. Read her stuff on SurvivingDating.Com and AskHeartBeat.Com.

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Category: Women's Issues

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Veteran social researcher, relationship advice columnist, author and radio host. Author of hundreds of articles on American and black culture, gender issues, singles, dating and relationships. Author of "Sucka Free Love!" , "The 24 Types of Suckas to Avoid," "The Black Church - Where Women Pray and Men Pray," and "Why Vegan is the New Black" all available on Amazon.Com. Her unique voice and insightful commentary have delighted fans and riled haters for 20 years. Read her stuff on SurvivingDating.Com and AskHeartBeat.Com.
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  1. annabolan82 says:

    @TheLastBaron No, my little narcissist, we do NOT owe you an explanation when we say ‘No’.  It’s no because we said no.  End of.  And anyway, I’m not quite sure you’d like it if a woman did give a guy like you an explanation for why she’s rejecting you.  Do you really want to open that can of worms? If you choose to push yourself on a woman, you are owed NOTHING from her. We’re not here to cater to your needs, horrific as that thought must be to someone as narcissistic as you.

  2. annabolan82 says:

    @TheLastBaron I realise this is an old comment but frankly, it’s not the problem of women if you’re feeling frustrated and angry. Also, your statement: ‘Just look at this through the other side’s perspective for once’ is ridiculous. This article IS the other side’s perspective being looked at for once. Women are conditioned to look at things from the guys point of view, and to consider his feelings before her own.  It’s guys like you who need to look at this through the other side’s perspective for once.

  3. Deborrah says:

    Here is a video interview of Gavin DeBecker, the #1 expert on personal security and the intuitive voice that people often ignore, which ends up getting them trouble.


    • AndreaLewis says:

      I read “The Gift of Fear” in high school and it totally changed my life. Ever since, I have rejected the whole trust me and pretend to be my oldest pal / girlfriend — despite the fact that I have never laid eyes on you before, because we’re both Black non-sense.
      Before reading that book, I had no idea how very dangerous it could be to allow strangers who behave in an overly familiar fashion into your personal space. Every woman should read that book, but especially BW. BW are waaaay too trusting of other Black folks.

  4. TheLastBaron says:

    I admit I’m being pretty harsh here, but I’m far from an idiot or an asshole. I’m just a frustrated and angry guy who’s been rejected too many times and just went through a bad breakup. Just look at this through the other side’s perspective for once, that’s all I’m saying.

    • Raz says:

      The LastBaron: “I’m just a frustrated and angry guy who’s been rejected too many times and just went through a bad breakup”
      Well since you’re being rejected ‘too many times’ and went through a bad breakup, rather than blaming the woman and wallowing and whining in your self pitty, get off your fonky azz and start work on your inner self. Time for to self-reflect, improve. That’s the problem with some dudes like you, they stay stuck on stupid, and bitter and angry, they never grow up and mature emotionally and try to figure shyt out. They just blame the woman instead of looking at what they need to improve in themselves. There are plenty of articles on this blog you can get busy reading to improve yourself such as:

      Dating Tips for Men: How to Dump Proof Your Relationship
      How Nice Guys can Develop the Player Edge that Women Love (written by a happily married guy)
      Why Nice Guys suck and women don’t want you

      You can either stay bitter and wallow, or improve yourself. “Where ever you go, there you are”. By your own admission, you’ve been rejected ‘too many times’ which means that something is going on with you’. Either you’re ugly as a troll trying to get women way out of your league, or you have a nasty fonky attitude that turns women off with no ‘skills or game’ on knowing how to get and please and keep a woman happy. I suspect it’s some of both.

      • Nigerian Sista says:

        I personally do not understand why I a woman would owe a guy an explanation to after telling him no. Guys do not HAVE to do this. If anything if a guy does tell a woman he’s not interested he will do it in a mean (i.e. short you aint pretty enough/your a– AIN’T phat enough). He will attempt to hurt the woman’s feelings. I’ve been around long enough to know that many African American males share a streak of mysogny and cruelty when it comes to interacting with women. Many males think that they are superior to women, so they have this delusional belief that certin things should be made available for them no matter what. Buy they don’t seem to owe anyone anything.

      • LMH says:

        Got it! You are a frustrated, angry guy who now expects all women to cater to your bruised ego. Dude! Frustrated, angry and needy is NOT attractive!

  5. TheLastBaron says:

    Women, you DO owe men an explanation when you say “No”. You often won’t explain yourselves because your reasons are shallow and illogical and deep down you know it. I find all this talk of “putting yourself first” rather hypocritical. The examples given in the article are pretty extreme and the men involved are going about it the wrong way, but in the end they’re just pursuing what they want and will make them happy. Don’t castigate them for this! Most of you are no better than the men you’re criticizing

    • Raz says:

      The lastBaron: “Women, you DO owe men an explanation when you say “No”

      Women don’t owe men shyt! Especially some stranger who simply asked her out. But if a dude just has to have an reason, here’s one for you. “You stank, ugly, and the thought of one more second in your company makes me vomit in the mouth’. Now be gone lout!” How’s that for an explanation.

    • You’re an asshole and an idiot. That is the only response I feel you are worth having.

    • LMH says:

      Here is the explanation for “No”…ready…SHE IS NOT ATTRACTED TO YOU!!!

      That is all the explanation anyone ever needs and it should be evident by the word NO!!! End of explanation.

  6. C says:

    It’s irritating and rather insulting to me, as a guy, that this article is even needed. Of course, it’s a failure of society. Men are taught to be ambitious, that persistence will ultimately win. However, I don’t understand how so many of us apply it to our interactions with women.

    Common sense should tell us that life isn’t a friggin’ romantic comedy. When the protagonist is rejected by his love interest, persistence only works here because the outcome has already been decided. Persistence of that level, up to and including, showing up at her goddamn workplace… that’s called harassment in the real world. Especially if the protagonist is required to rescue her from the “no good boyfriend/husband/whatever.”

    When the roles are reversed, she is usually cast as “crazy stalker ex.” Therein lies the rub. I hate those guys who catcall, persist with a woman who clearly said no, and generally make asses of themselves when they catch a whiff of pheromone. They perpetuate that tired old script that says a man can’t help himself. Like hell, I can control myself just fine. The men who can’t simply have a weak will, and blaming women won’t help them.

    It’s all about personal responsibility. Blame only goes so far. It doesn’t matter how they’re dressed, whether anyone put themselves in a vulnerable position, or how they may be acting. Anything that violates the autonomy of another human isn’t right nor deserved. I recognize the difference between when a woman is interested and when she wants nothing to do with me. And I respect her wishes because that’s what a sensible person does.

    • Danta' says:

      Speak on it C!!!! Again it’s a maturity thing, as well as a respect thing. Actually for this Blog a Picture on the street and not a club would’ve been better and more realistic. It was changed and brought back Club pics don’t count.However both Men and Women need to respect each other’s wishes if neither is showing interest towards each other. The word Respect needs to be emphasized if not Society will have more wrecks in it.

  7. SunnyDay says:

    I was just talking to my sister about this last night. Guys hate the word, they have no idea what to do when they hear it.

    My sis was telling me about a brother who is married yet keeps pursuing her. She has repeatedly told him no (for about 6 months now) and he continues to proposition her to join him at a hotel for him to become the man of her dreams. PUUHLEEZ I mean pure maddness!

    I cringe at the cat calls I receive more often while I’m dressed in my professional work attire, I absolutely hate it. I hate when older men, who more too often stare at me with as you mentioned “lust filled eyes”. I think of the women in the Congo who are raped and used as pawns of war and think Sistahs need to form an army.

    I refuse to make eye contact with men as I walk the street. Dudes can be very brutal. It’s a shame that we have to go through this on a daily basis and some of us who are lesser willed succumb to these advances all time to their detriment I believe.

    Not sure where we can go from here but I am grateful to your words and appreciative of all the sistahs who shared their experiences. Teach our sons differently…

    • Raz says:

      SunnyDay: “My sis was telling me about a brother who is married yet keeps pursuing her. She has repeatedly told him no (for about 6 months now) and he continues to proposition her to join him at a hotel for him to become the man of her dreams.”

      Tell your sister the next time this man harrasses her, she has the cops on speed dial 911 for stalking. She has already told her to leave her alone and NO! If she means this emphatically then this married man should have gotten the message. She needs to let him know that there will be consequences (and no idle threats) that will be carried out if he continues to harrass her. He’s already continued, so at this point she needs to pursue seeking the law on his butt. Then he’d have no choice but to leave her alone or his butt will be locked up. Women need to stop being afraid to throw these scumbags like this married man who is harassing your sister under the jail. See this is why so many women end up dead. They too damn nice to these losers. They are too scared to take a stand and stop putting themselves in the ‘victim’s shoes. That fool should have been reported to the police a long time ago. They will tell him NO in a way he understands!

    • Since so much time has elapsed, I am assuming that your sister knows this guy – as in he is a neighbor, a coworker, a transit driver on her bus, the guy that works in her bulding, etc.

      She is fully within her rights to file a harassment claim and request a restraining order. What he is doing to her is stalking and sexual harassment. What he is exhibiting is the traits of a sociopath. These are people that have no concern for your feelings, your life, your body or mind, your boundaries, your needs or anything else about you. Their single-minded focus is on what THEY want.

      She could also try telling him one of the following:

      (1) And what would your wife say about that? Because if you ask me that shit again, I’m calling her and telling her to keep her dog ass husband away from me! OR

      (2) If you do not leave me alone I am going to file stalking and harassment charges against you. I’ve told you numerous times to leave me alone yet you persist in disrespecting me, my husband, my marriage, and your wife. You are NOT a man of quality and certainly cannot be the man of ANYONE’S dreams. OR


      My personal preference is #3 first, #2 second.

  8. Pat says:

    How about telling them to practice ‘safe sex’ and go f*&^ themselves.

  9. Anderson says:

    If the guy gets on your nerves and goes to the extent of stalking you or something, it would be better to let a male accomplice confront him or better yet, approach the cops.

  10. Golden Silence says:

    I agree! Women need to stop being polite to these men and learn how to put themselves first.

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