“We have an abundance of rape and violence against women on this Earth, though it’s almost never treated as a civil rights or human rights issue, or a crisis, or even a pattern. Violence doesn’t have a race, a class, a religion, or a nationality, but it does have a gender.”
The Telegraph recently reported a case wherein an Italian model risks losing her sight after her angered ex-boyfriend threw acid in her face. A case which shocked the whole of Italy, but not too much because these attacks are a common occurrence in Italy, and everywhere else in the world.
Violence against women in the form of rape, acid attacks, domestic abuse and sexual harassment is something we as the human race have accepted as a ‘common occurrence’. As if that wasn’t enough, such cases often include victim-blaming wherein the girl or woman is blamed for not being careful enough or to have given the man the leverage to commit such an act of aggression. The problem here is that we are unable to relate this behavior of males to the inability of the male gender to handle rejection – a curse given to them by the system of patriarchy.
Patriarchy disables the male gender from accepting no for an answer, especially from an individual of the opposite gender. This notion is deeply engraved within our society. Rejection from a girl or woman leads a boy or man to question his ‘manhood’ and they view it as someone hurting their dignity or pride. Since males are never conditioned to share their insecurities or express emotions, this rejection leads a man to take up an ugly form of an aggressive beast and participate in violent behavior.
Socio-cultural elements such as movies and songs have over the years encouraged and emboldened the behavior of men to pursue a women till she says yes. And if she rejects you? Well it’s time to try harder. And after facing constant rejections that are taken as a mark on your own pride, it’s no wonder that men begin to act out using different forms of violence.
No = Shy = Yes
It’s not just men who have been taught by patriarchy to not accept rejection. Girls and women have been taught since childhood to remain ‘uninterested’ or ‘not too eager’ when it comes to dating/marrying a boy or man they really like. In case girls and women come off as ‘too interested’ when it comes to men, the boy or man may lose interest. Because men like the chase.
This is a huge problem which affects both genders equally and has severe effects on self-esteem. Boys and men believe that the woman is just saying no to act pricey, or because she is shy, therefore they keep on pursuing these girls till they finally give in. And if they don’t, the frustration builds into anger and anger converts to aggression. It’s time these ancient gender roles are replaced and dignity is restored in male-female relationships.
Ignorance Is Not Bliss
When your life or well-being may be under threat from someone who is unwilling to take no for an answer, the philosophy of ‘ignorance is bliss’, adopted by many girls and women in such cases, will not work. This is a situation which needs to be handled tactfully and with due care. But firstly, let’s get a few misconceptions regarding saying no out of the way.
Misconception #1 – Some people cannot take no for answer
Just because a boy or a man is not accepting rejection and continues his pursuit of ‘attaining’ you, does not mean they cannot take no for an answer. And this does not mean that you will alter your own wishes or compromise into saying yes to something you don’t want. This is someone who is not respecting your boundaries and while they are capable of accepting rejection, they just choose not to. This strategy unfortunately works. But the result always depends on you and you don’t have to be with a man who does not respect your wishes.
Misconception #2 –The Conversation isn’t over unless both sides agree
When it comes to saying no and meaning it, please don’t wait for the boy or man to accept your rejection completely. Meeting of the minds in such a situation is irrelevant and should not be pushed. Once you have said no, stick to it and do not invite any further discussion on the same.
The Art of Saying No
Rejection is an art that needs to be executed carefully and with due consideration. With tact and usage of proper language, you can say no without offending the guy in front of you, so that you can avoid life-threatening circumstances in the future.
Step 1: Prepare yourself to say No
It is important to give yourself a reason regarding why you’re saying no to the person you want to say no to. It might be that you both will be better off as friends, or that you don’t feel comfortable with this person, or even the fact that you feel that you both are not compatible. It is important to be aware of why you are choosing to say no, and then prepare yourself to say it in a way which is non-confrontational or offensive.
Step 2: Say it
Once you have prepared to say no, say it directly, confidently and without any hesitation or doubt. State the reason of why you’re saying no, and apologize if you feel the other person is feeling hurt. You need to specifically state that you are not saying no because you are shy or because you want to act pricey first, you are saying no because you are confident that the relationship will not work and will be harmful for both you and the guy in the future.
You can also mention how you don’t want to hurt the guy’s feelings and how you respect them for who they are.
Step 3: Stick to your decision
When you have made a decision to reject someone, don’t ponder over it any further. Trust your instinct and remain firm.
Step 4: Protect Yourself
If you feel that the guy is unwilling to accept your rejection, and is getting assertive – it is time to protect yourself. Make sure your friends and family are informed of this person. The people closest to you should know in case an emergency situation arises.
You can also approach police in case you feel you are being stalked or threatened. Do remember that if a guy is indulging in such activities, no matter how close he is to you, he is not the same person he was before and may do something extreme such as indulging in violent acts.
In the end, stay firm on your decisions and stay safe. It is important for you to know that you are the master of your own life, and not the object of someone else’s manipulations. STAY EMPOWERED!
Aarushi is a 19-year-old Law Student based in New Delhi, India. She is the founder of a student-led initiative for educating girls called SDG5. She is passionate about working for gender equality and for a better world.