March 23, 2010

“Rue the day? Who talks like that?”*

Posted in *cringe*, I need a helmet, Past, The Angry, The Just a Little Sad, The Who, The Why, The WTF at 8:27 am by Dagny Taggart

Growing up in a relatively feminist era is not without its drawbacks.  I say this because I was lucky enough to grow up with a mother who, in her determined and steady way, worked her way through barrier after barrier – as the daughter of Eastern European immigrants, then a college and graduate school student, then as a woman in the world of business, and then as a female professor, complete with PhD, in the realm of academia.  For as long as I can remember, nobody has ever questioned Dr. Taggart’s qualifications, or wondered if she was capable of making decisions for herself, or thought that she “didn’t really mean” something once she’d said it.

And because she never once acted as though this was any kind of spectacular achievement, because she never once implied that her career was anything out of the ordinary, I always thought of it as a consequence of the force of her personality.  I never really considered how many people she’d had to ignore, or to dismiss as ignorant, when they suggested that a woman might not be capable of deciding what she wants in the next ten minutes, let alone achieving great things outside of the home.

And so, when I was told that “no” meant “try again more forcefully, later”, I thought perhaps it was a consequence of me not being forceful enough.  That I must have sent some kind of mixed signal.

Because it was nearly unfathomable, to me, that someone might actually believe that no meant something other than no.  That someone might be so incredibly self-absorbed that he could convince himself that “no” could mean exactly what he wanted it to, even though a plain language reading of the word indicated the opposite.

And so I put it out there now.  There are, in fact, people who think that “no” sometimes means “yes”.  And who are willing to take the chance that they are imposing themselves on someone who does not want them, who has in fact said no, and who will afterward be unhappy with the fact that her/his wishes were not respected.  They genuinely believe that this is how the world works – that women don’t mean it when they say they don’t want something – and if they do, it’s just because they don’t know better.

How do we fix that?

*Real Genius.  Of course.



  1. Brian said,

    “Kent puts his name on his license plate.”

    “My mother does the same thing with my underwear.”

    “Your mother puts license plates in your underwear? How do you sit?”

    One of my favorite exchanges in movies, period. An aptly-named film if there ever was one.

    If I may distill your last para: some people are stupid jackasses. There is no “fix,” unfortunately. But sterilization is a step in the right direction…

  2. David said,

    The only time I’ve ever dealt with women who said one thing but meant another is dating.

  3. I haven’t commented yet, but the posting title alone deserves recognition.

    I think people use their own operating base when interpreting others’ words. If they say “no”, but they really mean “if you offer me something good enough, it could be a yes” or “if you threaten me, I’ll change my mind”, then they expect that from their communications with others.

    And then there’s just the people who always expect to get their way, and interact with those mentioned above. “No” seems to so rarely mean “no” when there are so many ways around it and so few people who respect the boundaries of others. It’s just a matter of finding out how to change their answer.

  4. Brian: That is one of my all-time favorite quotes. Right up there with: “In the words of the immortal Socrates, who said, ‘I drank what?'”

    I guess what flummoxes me, is that seemingly otherwise intelligent and normal people believe that this is true. Somehow, growing up, they were taught that it’s okay – and I cannot fathom who might have done the teaching.

    David: Well, while I’ll acknowledge that people of either sex can certainly engage in game-playing, especially on the dating front, I was talking more about the physical aspect of dating – where a woman can express discomfort with how quickly things are moving, for example, only to have the guy tell her that she “doesn’t know what she’s missing” or “that’s just because you haven’t tried it with me yet” before he does, in fact, try again.

    Poetry of Flesh: I’m glad you enjoyed the title! And yes, I think this is a big part of it for some people – because *they* come from a place of constant negotiation, where boundaries are never inflexible, those people don’t recognize when someone else’s boundaries are rigid. Personally, I can do without those who are too egocentric to recognize that my desires don’t necessarily align with theirs.

    • David said,


      My observation has been that the guys who push things more tend to get more action than guys who don’t (the former also piss off more women). My experience has been that women are rarely upfront about sexual limits – and the firmer the limits are, the less interested the woman is. Given the difficulty most guys have A) interpreting women’s signals and B) the cost benefit analysis of going for it anyway, the fact that some percentage of guys take it too far strikes me as an obvious result.

      One way to fix it is if they keep doing it, you remove yourself from the situation in which they get to keep trying. Or, theoretically, convincing him that he’ll get more if he doesn’t ask.

      I would suggest that for these people this is how the world works – they get more action when they act this way.


      • David: Given … the cost benefit analysis of going for it anyway

        I guess the result of that analysis depends on whether you care about how the woman feels afterward. If you honestly don’t care whether she’s upset about what happened, then I suppose that is a natural conclusion. But if it’s someone you’re interested in seeing again, or if you just want to comport your self as someone who respects other people’s boundaries, I don’t really see that as an “obvious result”.

        So if getting more action is the only consideration, your argument makes sense. I just don’t understand how someone could both consider themselves a good person AND fail to take into account the effects they have on those around them, or whether they want to be truly Machiavellian in their personal interactions.

  5. Lemon Gloria said,

    There certainly are a number of those people. I’ve dated quite a few people, my husband included, who’ll keep asking me the same question over and over if they don’t like the answer. It’s a little more subtle than “no” turning to “yes” – but not really once you notice what’s going on.

  6. David said,

    I ought to have been more clear. I meant that it is an obvious result that some percentage of guys will come out this way, and tried to imply that a woman might be well served to seek out good guys instead.

    There’s also the question of why the guy wants/expects more physically than the woman does. If the guy is moving too fast, and unwilling to wait, then perhaps the woman should consider breaking up because the guy doesn’t care enough about her. Conversely, if the woman wants to go slowly because she’s just not that into the guy, perhaps the guy ought to reconsider the relationship as well. At the end of the day, if the parties are unwilling to comprise on this, it’s a really bad sign.

    In contrast, if the guy cares about the woman’s feelings, it’s hard for me to see him getting to the point you described earlier. So, yeah, when you described the man putting his desires above the woman’s, I kinda assumed that there would be problems. Communication regarding intimacy is particularly difficult.

    • David: Ah, I see. And yes, of course, everyone should try to seek out people who are willing to consider their feelings.

      Also, I have little patience for *anyone* who continues to make plans/accept dates with someone for whom they don’t have any real attraction (unless they know that physical attraction does not reflect whether they want a relationship with this person, and are honest about that). If that’s why someone wants to take it more slowly, then they should be the one to let the other person know that they should seek romance elsewhere.

      And one could posit that if you’re that uncomfortable communicating about physical intimacy with someone, perhaps getting physically intimate with them isn’t such a great idea.

      Thanks for the conversation 🙂

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