The damsel is coy and shy and keeps shrinking within her skin, as the bloke is trying to paw her from different angles and directions. She keeps running away, and he keeps running after. She says no, he says yes. The charming act continues till the last stanza of the song being played in the background, when he finally approaches her with resolve and determination, and she reluctantly (but gladly) agrees… and the duo turn into a silhouette of their firm embrace against the melting sun as the melodious voice of the playback singers approaches the final words of the song “pyaar mein naa ka matlab to haan hota hai” (“in love, no means yes”).
Isn’t this the common ingredient of most Indian movies we see (or don’t see)? But no, it’s a not a phenomenon contained to India alone. Doesn’t this reflect the larger belief system, that:
1. When she says NO, she actually means YES.
2. The louder the spoken NO, the louder the unspoken YES.
3. When she says no, she’s just acting pricey.
4. She says no because she’s shy.
So here’s another thing that patriarchy has developed over millennia to benefit the hegemonic masculinity. Either she can say yes to a man’s sexual advances, or she can say no. If she says yes, she’s a "slut"… a “use and throw” woman. After all, which cultured and moral woman says yes to anything remotely sexual!!! So go ahead and do whatever. And if she says no, see 1, 2, 3 and 4 above. So go ahead and do whatever.
This impinges upon women’s sexual rights in two ways:
1. Her right to say No. This social belief teaches women that saying no holds no meaning. After all, a no is a no only if the other person sees it as a no. Also, it belittles women and treats them as lesser humans who do not have the mental ability to decide for themselves. It also takes away her right to her body, and to decide when, how, where and by whom would she like and not like to be touched. And this becomes especially important within a sexual relationship, as men feel they have a right to demand sex whenever they want, and women feel obliged to agree, or powerless to refuse.
So where does this leave women? With no right over their own body and sexuality? With little power to say no or yes?
Any sexual act by one person with two or more persons ,without the other person(s)’s consent is rape. Well, rape is more than just this, but let’s just say this for now.
So why is that almost all rape prevention programs are directed at women? Why is it that women have a long list of cautions and precautions, while men… well, men will be men!!! Why is it that policies and programs rarely talk to men what these stereotypes and gender constructs mean? Why is it that there are so few efforts to engage men on how to be responsible partners, friends, strangers… how to express themselves sexually, yet responsibly.
Most rape perpetrators are men. Doesn’t this mean that they need to change in order to end rape. Why do we see rape as "unfortunately inevitable"? Why do we not object to movies, soaps and commercials that tolerate and support rape? Why do we see those messages as harmless and apolitical?
If there’s a community that can stop rape, its men! And that’s the idea behind this brilliant campaign to engage male partners of women to be sexual within those relationships more positively and sensitively. The message is simple: when she says No, she means No. Respect that.