“No means no.” As a child of the 70s and 80s, I heard this catchphrase a lot. Some marketing genius came up with it for PSAs about date rape. It’s meant to emphasize the importance of obtaining sexual consent before proceeding with sexual deeds.
I never had a lot of problems with people not respecting me when I said “no” to sex. But, before some smartass tries to tell me it’s because no one was interested, I will state that like almost all women, I was occasionally sexually harassed by men. I just mainly stayed out of situations in which I would have to deal with them. I’m not sure why that was. To my knowledge, I’ve never been raped. I did have some unfortunate encounters with a pervert when I was growing up, but he just showed me pornography. He never actually touched me. For that, I’m grateful.
Last night, I had an experience in a comment section with a very aggressive pro-life warrior. I had just read a news story about 80 year old Florida Representative Frederica Wilson. In the late 1960s, Ms. Wilson almost died from a pregnancy that resulted in a stillbirth. Doctors pronounced her baby dead in its seventh month of gestation. However, because her pregnancy predated Roe v. Wade, doctors were not permitted to induce labor. According to the article, Wilson said:
“I had to learn how, first of all, to handle the immense grief that comes with losing a child and the fact that the corpse of that child was still within me. I cried every night and all day. My little body was wretched with pain, weakness and frailty.”
Today, I relived one of the most painful times in my life on the House floor. I shared my experience of being forced to carry my dead baby. Prohibited by law to induce labor, I carried my deceased child inside me for two months and almost died. We can’t go back. pic.twitter.com/emuWzQDgWX— Rep. Frederica Wilson (@RepWilson) January 11, 2023
Wilson was commenting about anti-abortion legislation just passed by the House. The “born alive” bill will not go anywhere right now, as the Senate will probably not address it, and even if they passed it, Joe Biden won’t sign it. But it is a sign of what’s to come, as extremist right wingers try to impose their ridiculous anti-abortion views on the majority of Americans. I can’t help but notice that a lot of these folks are men. Quite a few of them are pushing shaming messages toward women who have casual, consensual sex. They claim they aren’t wanting to punish women for having sex for fun. But then, when a woman unintentionally gets pregnant, they think she needs to “lie in the bed she made for herself.”
Sure enough, there were several of these pro-life men opining in the comment section of the Washington Post article. A woman posted this excellent comment:
An embryo at 4 weeks is the size of a poppy seed. A 10 weeks fetus is the size of a pomegranate seed. Besides the contribution of one cell from a man, it is essentially a parasite using the woman’s blood, bone, muscle, etc. Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one. Mind your own business, in other words.
Then a pro-life man challenged her. He asked when she thought abortion should be banned. A lot of us, myself included, responded that it shouldn’t be banned at any stage of pregnancy. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll restate it for the latecomers. The vast majority of women who have abortions after the first trimester do so because there’s a medical reason. Either she’s sick, or the developing fetus has catastrophic medical problems. Late term abortions aren’t something a person does for fun or convenience. Any person who would do that for shits and giggles is not someone who should be a mother, anyway.
It wasn’t long before a guy named Kenneth decided to harass me with his pro-life views. I usually try to be respectful when I make comments, but this guy wouldn’t let up. He kept hammering away at me, trying to trip me up, challenging my opinions about abortion. I found him very disrespectful and responded accordingly. It reminded me of times when some horny guy wanted to do something sexual, when I didn’t. Fortunately, I never had an issue saying “no”, mainly because for some reason, I was afraid of sex and aggressive men. My fear of sex was greater than my fear of being socially rejected.
However, I happen to know that a lot of women, particularly young women, care a lot about what men think of them. So, when a man comes on to them, they’d rather just give him what he wants. They are willing to give in to his demands for sex. That’s how some of them end up pregnant when they never meant to be. While not every man is an asshole in this situation, a lot of men are.
I noticed that Kenneth had some “slut shaming” qualities. He commented to me that a woman who has a one night stand and has an abortion is doing so out of convenience. Obviously, he thinks that’s wrong. First off, the woman shouldn’t be having casual sex. Secondly, if she does get pregnant, she should commit to the pregnancy. Thirdly, if she doesn’t want to be a mother, she should give the baby up for adoption. He makes it sound like this is an easy thing to do. He acts as if pregnancy is easy, painless, and CHEAP.
Kenneth seems to think that he’s morally superior to pro-choice people, because he’s against abortion. Moreover, he thinks he has the right to hammer his views at total strangers. I normally don’t give guys like Kenneth much time, but I was feeling sort of hostile last night. He lobbed his impassioned entreaties at me, clearly getting nowhere, but unable to stop trying. I got increasingly annoyed, as he tried to explain to me– a woman– about pregnancy and the morals associated with it. It wasn’t the first time I’ve encountered this phenomenon.
I finally tired of Kenneth’s bullshit. It was time for dinner, and I wanted to end the conversation. So, after he referred to me as a “pro-abortionist”, I wrote this:
I am not a pro-abortionist. I simply don’t think you need to concern yourself with women’s healthcare decisions. It’s not your business. Especially since I highly doubt you vote for people who care about helping the poor or making healthcare affordable for everyone. Now please leave me alone. I’d rather clean the lint out of my bellybutton than continue this pointless dialogue with you.
As you can see, I very clearly asked him to leave me alone. I even used the word “please”. It’s a very clear indication that I’m saying “no” to continuing the discussion. It was getting nowhere, and my dinner was getting cold. But, not surprisingly, Kenneth came back with more stupid drivel. So I blocked him.
If I hadn’t had dinner in front of me, I might have pointed out that he was acting like a horny man. I refer to the type of man who pressures a woman for sex, won’t take “no” for an answer, and then slut shames her when she gets pregnant! This type of man accuses women of “getting themselves pregnant”. They call them sluts. They don’t want to help them. Instead, they say they should have been more careful. Guys like Kenneth put all the responsibility on women, as they demand to have a say in their healthcare decisions.
A few months ago, I had a similar experience, not on the topic of abortion, but about Virginia Military Institute. I wanted to comment because a number of my family members went there or worked there. Bill and I married there, although he’s not a graduate. My favorite relative, Uncle Brownlee (RIP), was in charge of the physical plant in the 1990s. He was actually at the forefront of making VMI accessible to women. I commented, and a man very soon attacked me for posting something positive about VMI. This guy wasn’t a right wing pro-life asshole, like Kenneth. Instead, it was a left-winger named Kent, trying to school me on how “racist, sexist, and abusive” VMI is.
I’m not going to try to tell people that VMI doesn’t have its problems. It’s not where I would have wanted to go to college. However, I do know that a lot of people– men and women– have done well at VMI and love the school. I think the good far outweighs the bad. Moreover, I have personal experience with VMI, thanks to my family members who attended and worked there. My perspective means that I don’t agree with people who think the school should be shut down for its sins of the past. This left-wing guy, Kent, who likely has ZERO actual experience with the school and probably doesn’t know a single graduate, felt the need to hammer me with his views.
As Kent tried to tell me more about “abuse” and all of the reasons VMI is “terrible”, I asked him to leave me alone. Naturally, he wouldn’t. For some reason, he couldn’t manage to do that. Instead, he came back with two more paragraphs of drivel. It was probably lost on him that he’s pretty abusive himself. I ended up blocking him, too, after pointing out that he doesn’t seem to be able to respect the word “no”. Perhaps he’s more like an “abusive” Keydet than he’d like to admit. I’m sure the strong and brave young women who choose VMI for college can make an informed decision about their higher education choices without Kent’s input, in spite of his penis.
I can’t help but notice that a lot of pro-life men missed the memo regarding “no meaning no”. I’ve noticed that they are also a lot like fat shaming men. Maybe it’s not so much the pro-life types that are like this, but it’s more narcissistic assholes who are. A narcissist can be on either side of the political spectrum, after all. But they do have one thing in common, and that’s the tendency to shame other people. And narcissistic men love to do it to women, especially those they see as somehow morally weak.
To these types, a fat woman is weak because she eats too much and dares to be in public when she’s not attractive to him. This is annoying to him. A pregnant woman who wants an abortion has the nerve to reject the sperm of the man who fucked her. She should have kept her legs crossed, just as the fat woman should keep her mouth closed. What they see as a lack of discipline is disgusting to them. But they never seem to look at their own behaviors, do they? The hypocrites!
I don’t have time for hypocrites, nor do I have the energy to waste on guys like Kent and Kenneth. My mind is perfectly good, and I have the ability to make my own decisions and form my own opinions. I don’t need help. When I ask to be left alone, I mean it. No means no.
Maybe if more men like Kenneth respected women who say no to them, there would be less of a need for abortion. Either way, it’s none of his goddamned business if a woman wants or needs an abortion. Women like me are going to fight for the right to make our own healthcare and education decisions without help from anti-choice assholes like Kenneth… and Kent, for that matter.