A ‘No’ Uttered From the Deepest Conviction

“A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” ~Gandhi via @tinybuddha

I’ve always said that if you can’t say no, then you can’t really say yes. The ability to consent requires the ability to freely choose either option. Unfortunately, a lot of people give in to their partner’s requests/demands as a way to minimize friction, avoid fights, or because it feels easier than speaking up.

Giving up our power to another in these ways is very different from the negotiated and consensual forms of submission common in BDSM, primarily because kinky submission is (ideally, at least) based on the conviction of a strong “yes.” This is a distinction that is often lost on people who only see the surface of the submission, without understanding the deeper layers of communication and consent. Or to put it another way, it’s misunderstood by people who only see the form-based sexual ethics, rather than the content-based ethics.

The ability to say yes or no from our deepest conviction is at the heart of sex-positivity. And it’s not an easy skill to develop. We need enough knowledge to understand the situations we find ourselves in. We need to believe that we have the right to ask for more information. We need to be able to articulate our desires. We need to know that our replies will be honored. We need to believe that we deserve to get what we want. We need to believe that we deserve to take care of ourselves and be cared for by our partners. We need to be willing to negotiate with other people and look for ways that we can both/all get what we want. We need to believe that we have the right to have our fantasies. When we start looking at it more deeply, we see that there are a lot of elements to those short words.

It’s no wonder that we often think it’s easier to go along with what someone else wants, even when it’s not what we desire. So I ask you- what keeps you from saying “no”? And what can you do to change that?

(Yes Means Yes has lots of great articles about the relationships between consent and sex.)

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3 Responses so far.

  1. Jenny DeMilo says:

    I come across this issue all the time being an escort. There is a whole school of thought (by the misinformed) that because of my profession, i can not say no. That because im a sex worker i have to agree to everything a partner wants to do. Balderdash! Of course “no” is the the other side of the coin and there is no yes, when there is no… no.

    nice blog post!

  2. Charlie says:

    Thanks! You might also like this post for another perspective on that.

  3. Stephanie says:

    “The ability to say yes or no from our deepest conviction is at the heart of sex-positivity.”

    I love this line, here. It has provided me with an excellent way of introducing to notion of sex-positivity to people who know little about it, or are inclined against it. It’s so descriptive!

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