When a woman says ‘no’, she means it. This, according to the opinion of yours truly at least, is the simple truth. There are no double meanings, no hidden messages and no shades of ‘coquetry’ involved in the straightforward negation.
Constant unwanted and unsolicited attention from men is an unfortunate occurrence that many women experience at least once in their lifetime. Of course, I am not generalising here; this rhetoric is directed only towards men who indulge in such activities. So, now that the disclaimer has been done with, I would like to bring forth another facet of the said men’s psyche: if their target(s) repel the harassers’ initial advances, it signifies to them a ‘challenge’ that should be accepted if the sacred code of ‘manliness’ is to be protected. Hence, the harassment is increased manifold.
There is also another school of thought claiming that a woman is only being ‘proper’ and ‘modest’ if she expresses her disinterest; continue pursuing her and she will eventually capitulate. May I humbly point out here that a female’s life does not revolve around waiting for any man to bestow his consideration on her? Also, she is fully capable of choosing her own acquaintances and friends without the need of a forced violation of her personal place, be it mental or physical.
Said the irrepressible William Collins to Elizabeth Bennet in the Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice, “I am not now to learn that it is usual with young ladies to reject the addresses of the man whom they secretly mean to accept, when he first applies for their favour; and that sometimes the refusal is repeated a second or even a third time. I am therefore by no means discouraged by what you have just said, and shall hope to lead you to the altar ere long.”
The fact is, these lines are reflective of what was generally believed in early 19th century England. Fast-forward two centuries, Collins’ spirit would be flattered to notice that his mentality is still prevalent among a sizeable segment of the male sex. In today’s technological epoch, physical proximity has been rendered unnecessary for harassing women. Crank calls, sleazy text messages and social media stalking are being used freely to ‘make friendship’. It does not make a difference if their numbers are blocked; they seem to be in the possession of a non-ending supply of SIMs to satisfy their eternal quest of driving women to the edge of a breakdown. Seriously, don’t these men have anything better to do?
Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2013.