“Take your power seriously. Keep each other safe. Be indomitable.”
Above is the ten-word signature line used by a character I write for, a young woman who was put into an impossible predicament and tasked to claw her way out, eventually turning her situation fully to her advantage. She was inspired by many women I’ve known in my life including those who folks knew not to cross: matriarchs who understood how and when to use their power.
I recently advocated online that women should not only be willing to use their power but, in situations where knuckleheads aren’t taking subtle hints, they should damn well assert it. It cannot be 100% on the guy to figure out that “let’s go slow” is code for “back off creep” when that reply sounds in any way coy or negotiable, even under the guise of safety. If the advance continues in spite of light protest, the lady needs to be taken seriously with a firm, practiced, and irrefutable “no.”
I was told to burn in Hell for that assertion.
In social media circles, I’m told I’m fearless for speaking my mind with a sharp knack for articulating it. The topic of discussion was that “celebrity” and the article written by his unidentified date, sparking an overdue debate on whether it was just a bad night or sexual misconduct… but also who was to blame. In what should be a clear learning opportunity, a number of folks are saying that the celebrity bears 100% of the responsibility for how the date failed.
Sorry not sorry, but that’s wrong, and there’s a reason I spoke up against it.
My friends and family will tell you I’m far more a feminist than most of them — women included — and many of my right-leaning political buds all call me a trigger-happy social justice warrior to my face. That said, I take a hard-line on the subject of bullying: don’t be a pacifist and learn to throw a damn punch.
Going back to the signature up top, I don’t use the “be indomitable” tagline for myself because, honestly, it means more coming from a woman, especially one in a position of leadership. For the most part, you don’t have to tell the bulk of men to take their power seriously, because those who understand it certainly do and unfortunately will. With the #metoo movement evolving into #timesup, this must be part of the next step for all women everywhere.
Take your power seriously.
Should the celebrity have known better? Yes. Wasn’t the hesitant verbal and body cues enough to convey “no”? It’s been argued that any waffling, hesitation, or indecision should be innately understood — except the power word “no” isn’t the word being used and the person not using it isn’t leaving when the unwelcome behavior continues.
Poor assumptions are too often made if the guy rationalizes she’s here and she’s staying, but instead of asking for direct confirmation and/or communicating, fear of judgement rears its ugly head. Instead of a deterrent, the reluctance is instead viewed as a challenge: what should I try next that she *will* go for? This is assuming that the guy isn’t plotting to murder anyone — a safe assumption for a celebrity if not the overwhelming majority of men — and he’s trying to show her the kind of date he believes was agreed to… or at least that he thought he was signing up for.
By the time “no” is firmly implied after repeated “maybes,” it may seem like a soft pedal; it doesn’t carry the same weight from gentle push-back to a firm no when there is escalating indecision. In other words, the longer one’s power is surrendered, the less likely it is to be taken as seriously as it should when it is finally used. To keep a man pacified with soft talk, you’ve empowered him to negotiate your escape if he turns out to be a predator; a good guy will get you immediately even if he’s a little thick.
Keep each other safe.
Relationships are built upon trust creating a partnership. It goes both ways and must be mutually agreed upon; communication is essential to establish any expectation. Friends who can be called at a moment’s notice are always a good idea, but ensuring there are plenty of others around not only provides additional safety but make a sudden but necessary departure much easier.
It doesn’t take much web searching to find situations where a group of women allow one to spiral off into her own “adventure” without a safety net — only for her to disappear forever. When you’re in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people, no one should be going home with anyone else, and at the very least someone should know where you are and are able to reach you. If you have any doubts, don’t go there.
This is where taking power comes in: stop reacting. If you aren’t acting, you’re reacting. If he plans the date, pays for the date, and makes all the decisions — especially without any input from her — he not only has the power, she has surrendered hers to him. If she isn’t leaving the date and has not asserted herself, then the playing field is still open; he still thinks she’s interested because, while the hesitation may be escalating, the resistance isn’t firm: there’s still a chance!
This isn’t just for the one lady, by the way; it’s also for the next girl, setting the expectation that pressuring is coercion and not courtship. While every guy should understand what permission is and that hesitation means stop regardless of words, it’s also true every guy is not a predator waiting to happen. If you’re uncomfortable and he isn’t taking a hint, say so, and do it sooner than later.
The fear of hurting men’s feelings — or worse angering them — has long been put upon women as if they’ve done something wrong and it’s their fault if anything happens, and that’s simply bullshit. Keep in mind that all this works both ways, too, but this must become the norm.
There will be those who will belittle and “Oh Kev” me, tell me I don’t understand or that I couldn’t, and how everything is different because (fill in the blank). But keep in mind that, as a man, I have a unique insight that women do not; why do you think fathers threaten suitors to their daughters? Because men know how men think, because men are goal-oriented and wrongly have empathy
beaten “encouraged” out of them from an early age, and they respond very well to assertive authority — ask anyone who’s been through boot camp.
If you have thoughts otherwise, send me a message down here in Hell.
Take your power seriously. Keep each other safe. Be indomitable.