Advice From the Trenches

Advice from the Trenches: Just a Girl Who Can’t Say No

Dear C and Dr. B;

I had lunch with my cousin Mary today, and I mentioned a problem to her about a male friend who got unexpectedly pushy and I had to slap him and throw him out. She said, “Really? That happened to me last month, but I didn’t want to hurt the guy’s feelings, so I just went along.” When I said, “You just went along??? Why would you do that?” a story unfolded that has me horrified. It turns out that Mary has been raped three times – all date rapes. Apparently, she just can’t say no. She made excuses: she didn’t want to disappoint people, she feared losing her friends … so she just lay there and let them do it when she really didn’t want to. The really sad thing is that when I told her it was rape, she didn’t want to believe me. She wants to be liked, and she always acts sweet and nice. She said she’d feel worse if she turned someone down. But she finally admitted that after giving in, she always hated herself afterward.

This really bothers me, because I doubt if she’s the only woman who does this. So many of us, especially in older generations, were raised to believe it was our job to make everyone happy … even if it meant saying yes when we meant no. I don’t know what to say to Mary, I just know that I don’t want this to happen to her again. Is there anything I can do?

Contrary 2 Mary


Dear Contrary;

Unfortunately, your cousin’s attitude is typical and it is engrained in our culture. I see this a lot with college students. The number one children’s book in America was, and might still be, The Giving Tree, which essentially teaches that to be happy one must sacrifice for others, even to the point of death.  And parents then wonder why their daughters get raped in college!

Society is an ocean full of sharks, and your friend has to learn how not to be shark bait. She is a walking target, hoping no one will take aim, and that isn’t realistic. It’s her job to protect herself. She can’t leave the responsibility up to everyone else to not take what is seemingly being offered. She has to say no and mean it, and be consistent. Yes, she will lose some friends – but who wants friends like that?  She is not a “Me Too” member, she is just another idiot. She has to value herself before anyone else can value her.  I recommend Krav Maga, a self-defense class especially designed for women that utilizes and teaches common sense.


C says: Unfortunately, I understand all too well how your cousin feels. I grew up in the ’60s when Free Love was the meme of the day and it was almost considered rude not to sleep with someone if they wanted to have sex with you. I had sex more than once when I wasn’t really into it. I was lucky to have walked away relatively unscathed. Some of my friends did not.

I would, however, hesitate to call Mary’s experience “date rape.” If she said “No” and he pushed on, it would be an open and shut case – if Mary says yes, that’s really on her. The guy can’t read her mind. But blame aside, there are other things to consider. In 2019, having unwanted sex and unprotected sex can be life threatening. Mary can get pregnant, she can get crabs, HIV, genital warts, chlamydia, gonorrhea, you name it. The psychological effects can be equally devastating – a woman who says yes when she means no can develop an ever building rage and either push it down so that it becomes twisted, or take it out on everyone else around her.

What can you do? Nothing, unless Mary understands the importance of changing her attitude. She needs a major wake-up call. Tell Mary she is not a receptacle. She is not a sex worker for hire. If someone is her friend, they should care how she feels. She needs to be honest. If she don’t want to have sex, she has to say NO, in no uncertain terms. If they ignore her feelings and push on in their own selfish way, f__k ‘em. They are nobody’s friend.

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