It is no secret that being a woman can be a struggle.
This is especially true when men can sometimes be aggressive or pushy. This is why it is so important to set healthy boundaries when keeping yourself safe.
What if even your best efforts to get respect and body autonomy fall flat when met with a heap of misogyny?
Here are some ways to best advocate for yourself to be more clear with your intentions when helping guys understand that no means no:
Table of Contents
1. Be Clear With Your Expectations
Being super clear about what your expectations are helps create a healthy relationship.
I know it doesn’t seem romantic to talk about the “what ifs” or to even set boundaries with someone you want to be intimate with; however, most men need you to actually spell it out for them.
Men, in general, can be fairly jaded about the inner working of a woman’s mind. So, to ensure that your boundaries are respected, speak up.
Where Do you Start?
I always find that the best course of action is to say precisely what you want and, even more importantly, what you don’t want.
For example, if you are not comfortable with physical intimacy yet and want to be clear about what your date can expect, let him know exactly where you draw that line.
Most men will be able to understand that this boundary is there for you to feel safe and protect yourself.
If your boundaries are still not being respected even when you clearly spell it out for them, this man might not be someone worth investing your time in.
2. Consult Human Resources
Romantic situations are not the only time when a woman is put in an uncomfortable situation. Women constantly get pressure from men in power, especially at their jobs.
Unfortunately, this is more common than you make think.
Any type of “quid pro quo,” sexual harassment, or unwanted physical contact is illegal and can open the company up to some major trouble.
However, many women don’t use internal programs, like those offered through human resources, because they fear they will lose their jobs by blowing the whistle.
It is important to remember that the law is there to protect you as an employee, and even though it can be scary, consulting an HR department about going over your boss’s head is a great way to protect yourself.
This will not only allow you to have an official complaint on file, but it will also send a very strong message to your co-worker that you, as an employee and, more importantly, a woman, deserve to work without fear of harassment or even retaliation.
When encountering unwanted contact in the workplace, reminding your co-worker that “no means no” is not your job – but the job of the commpany to enforce discipline and punishment to those men.
3. Give them Some Homework
When a man thinks he is entitled to something without consequence, it is learned behavior.
Whether it was from his family or friend group, men are not born with an inherited trait to treat women poorly.
This is why it is so important to break the cycle when it comes to learned misogyny.
What can you do with a full-grown man who still doesn’t take the hint and refuses to respect boundaries?
If this is a relationship that you want to invest in, the first thing you want to do is make sure that your requests will be respected.
If your guy is willing to hear you out, perhaps educate him a little bit on what respecting women really means.
Even if the relationship falls apart later down the line, think about the huge gift you are giving to the next relationship in his life!
The best way to undo harmful learning is to re-educate them with resources. There are plenty of online groups and organizations that are geared towards educating men on how to treat women, as well as picking up subtle, and even not-so-subtle, romantic cues.
4. Give Him a Lesson In Empathy
A big misconception about men is that they don’t have the mental capacity for empathy in the same way that woman is. However, empathy does not follow gender restrictions.
Some men don’t know how to empathize with women because they simply don’t have the same shared experiences as women do.
Most notably, while harassment and assault on men do occur, and those experiences should never be minimalized, women experience assault and harassment on a much larger scale.
In fact, 1 out of every 6 women in the United States will be assaulted at some point in their life. Assault remains a running joke among some men because, frankly, they haven’t experienced it.
So, how can you change someone who seemingly has no empathy for what many women experience?
If this person cares for you, perhaps explaining some of your experiences with him will help to understand that when a woman says no, she absolutely means it.
5. Explain the Difference Between Consent and Flirting
When you’re romantically involved with someone, the lines of consent can sometimes become blurred.
It should be stated that this is no fault of yours. Women know their boundaries and know what they want, even if body language speaks something differently.
Sometimes being flirty with someone can be interpreted as consent. Men have a hard time reading the subtleties and may see the light flirting as a green light to take things to the next level.
If you are not ready, willing, or even want to move to forward with something more, say it!
While it may seem silly, coming right out and saying, “Even though this is fun, I do not want to get physical yet,” is the best way to shut down that wrongful assumption.
If you are a flirty person by nature, which is absolutely okay and is certainly not an invitation to be assaulted, being very stern with your words is important.
If he still is unwilling to take even the most obvious hint that your flirtation is nothing more than friendly, it’s time to let him go.
6. Be Stern and Even Forceful when Needed
Women, especially women who have experienced some sort of pressure or even assault in their lives, can be scared to speak up and let a man know when things are moving too fast or making them uncomfortable.
Sometimes the best way to be heard and get your important point across is to match his energy.
If he is being overly aggressive, be stern with your words! This can teach him that you are absolutely serious when you say “no.”
Even if someone is being kind while still pressuring you to do something you don’t want to it, it is not okay. This is a form of manipulation to make you feel like you are in the wrong for saying “no.”
Remember that no matter what the situation is or how nice the guy is, you are still in complete control of your body and have every right to choose what you want to do with it.
With someone who is nice while still pressuring you, changing your tone to a more assertive one will let him know just how serious you are.
Being a woman is sometimes terrifying.
We are often so afraid to draw lines and set boundaries because history has taught us that women who assert themselves are often punished in return.
But this is an ancient way of thinking. While the road is still bumpy, women have much more power than they used to.
More than that, they have support!
It is important to be upfront and clear about what you want to set those intentions with a guy. If you are ever in a situation that makes you nervous or you feel like you are not being heard, you have every right to leave.
So, be assertive without fear or retaliation, and most of all, be safe!