“50 Shades of No”

50 Shades of No” is a paraphrase of a paraphrase of a book titled, “50 Shades of Grey,” by author E. L. James,  which was also made into a movie with the same title. While I have not read the book nor seen the movie, it is said to be about a young woman who became seduced into an ongoing domestic violence relationship. Reviews suggest that neither the book nor movie are based on research in the area of relationships involving bondage or domestic violence.

While I didn’t make it past the back cover of the book, I did attend most of a forum with a mixed panel of speakers regarding sexual assault policies for college students. The event was advertised as being a scenario based forum and was titled “50 Shades of K(no)w” so I was expecting some role playing to help college students practice different ways of saying no to unwanted sexual relations. That did not occur.

We weren’t even given a list of ways to say no or a handout with contact information for resources to help cope with sexual trauma. However we were assured early in the forum that we would be given contact information for resources later in the session — we were, kind of, a slide was up on the screen briefly, and I did happen to have a pen with me and managed to copy down one of the contacts in the time allowed: RAINN, Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, 1-(800) 656-4673, https://rainn.org.

We were also assured that the goal of all of the panel was to not re-victimize the victims, but as a survivor of child sexual trauma and date rape in college and as an adult, I would have to say that their policies may fall short of that goal. And the scenarios that the forum was based on also seemed to be casting the victims as at fault for their date rape and gang rape situations or as a liar who led her young man into a bad situation that could ruin him for life if he ended up charged and labeled a sex offender.

False accusations are unfair but that situation involved a father that was likely a domestic violence offender himself and the girl was lying because of her fear of her father. She was made to press charges by the father. A child who grows up in a traumatic household may not learn the skills necessary for handling an adult relationship with complete honesty because domestic violence households are all about denying truth, denying that anything is not perfectly normal. And she may not have even learned how to say “No” in such an household.

The first and third scenarios were very similar to each other in that a female college student drank too much at a large party and then was assaulted after trying to say that she was uncomfortable with the situation and was too drunk — Was that a “No” or not quite a “No“? We learned from the panel that too drunk to be able to legally say no requires the person to be “incapacitated,” which is a vague term. Is “incapacitated” equivalent to “Stumbling and slurring words drunk,” or “Falling down and vomiting drunk,” or “Totally passed out drunk“? Based on the panel’s responses it seems that it is equivalent to “Totally passed out drunk.”

We learned that on campus students who reported a sexual assault situation that occurred while under the influence of alcohol or other substances would not be charged for the substance violation however the Prosecuting Attorney made it clear that an entire house party serving alcohol might be charged with running an unlicensed liquor establishment. A girl might want to think twice about just how bad her bad experience was before getting involved with getting an entire house of college students arrested for serving alcohol.

The other main difference between the first and third scenarios was that the first girl was raped by one acquaintance who had invited her to the party and who she seemed interested in as a potential boyfriend (that didn’t happen, he never called her again.) She was deemed at fault for not reporting the situation until six weeks later due to a female friend prompting her too as it seemed like she had been raped. While the girl in the third situation was raped by the whole household who, she found out later, had also taken pictures of themselves with the passed out victim and posted the images online.

We learned from the panel that each case is handled individually and what happens depends on what the Defendant and the Complainant describe. In the third scenario the girl was described as sexy and suggestive and the Prosecuting Attorney suggested that it is the responsibility of the girl to keep her clothes on or to not ever do anything that she wouldn’t want posted online in this day and age of cell phone recording and instant upload capability. He did suggest that cellphones are very traceable and that would likely be a way to apprehend some of the violators.  [The three scenarios were prepared by Alan McEvoy, Professor of Sociology, NMU, All Rights Reserved. The paraphrased title, “50 Shades of K(no)w” is not part of the Scenario handout, so he might not have been responsible for the title of the forum event.]

Note to females — password protect your cellphones before going to any parties and practice saying “no” as the drinks are being forced on you by “house party rules.” Females tend to have smaller body masses and can get drunk on fewer alcoholic beverages than males, on average. One serving is recommended as a moderate amount for drinkers of a legal age.

Note to males — always check the female’s real driver’s license or state issued I.D. for her birthdate before sharing a “bad experience” with her because it was made clear that if she is 17 or younger than you may be liable for the worse offense of abusing a minor.

Bad experience” is a term I read somewhere that was suggested as a better catch-all phrase for those date-rape type situations where it is hard to tell if “no” or “yes” had ever been asked or answered. I have found the phrase useful in coping with my own history of “bad experience,” as it is easy to feel at fault, especially as a survivor of child trauma. Children raised in domestic violence or otherwise dysfunctional households may have learned the core message that they are always at fault for everything bad that happens to the family or to other family members. Children who grew up experiencing sexual trauma frequently have trouble with normal adult relations and may either be overtly sexual without realizing or without the skills to control it (“sexy and suggestive“) or they may be less sexual than usual or have other difficulties understanding or handling normal adult relations.

It is a myth that rape is mostly a stranger danger problem. More typically females or young boys have bad experiences (sexual assault) with acquaintances, mentors, or family or extended family members. Note to self — go buy that can of Mace and carry it everywhere.

Since I didn’t get a handout with 50 ways to say no, for practice saying no, I’ll try writing one:

50 Shades of No

  1. No, I’m saving my increased risk for autoimmune disease for the DNA of the father of my children and the DNA of my future children — and I don’t know if your DNA is qualified to be the father of my future children yet. [For more info: microchimerism]
  2. No, I’m too drunk and you’re too drunk and I don’t want an unplanned pregnancy with a baby that has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. [For more info: risk of FAS and father’s alcohol use]
  3. No, I’m not on birth control and we don’t have a condom.
  4. “Ewwww, Gross.” No, no way. [Quote from the television show The Unusuals, a dark comedy/drama about an unusual team of NYPD police detectives (2009). ][http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1240976/]
  5. Not in this lifetime or any future reincarnations, buddy. In other words — No.
  6. Your joking, —- Right?  Ewwww Gross, no.
  7. No thanks, I have two hands and I know how to use them.
  8. No, that won’t be happening if the four pairs of tights that I have on have any staying power at all. [A counter-strategy used by female candidates in some African nations where raping the female candidate is a strategy used to discredit her chances in the election. Smart — very smart thinking. Reference, I think, was the book “Half the Sky.” Amazon]
  9. No, not even if the sky was falling or you were the last man on Earth.
  10. You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?” “I’d say more like one out of a million.” [Note – that line didn’t work for the female lead in the movie “Dumb and Dumber,” 1994, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109686/quotes?item=qt0995799 ] Some people need a very clear, “No, never, ever, ever.”
  11. No, no, a million times no.
  12. Do you see this wedding ring? It says “No” and I say “No.” [Note – some people may want to buy a cheap wedding band for wearing to some locations, to assist with this response. Note – there is no direct lie in the statement, as no direct claim is being made to actually being married. However there is definitely an implication, in wearing a ring on the ring finger of your left hand. So don’t try the tactic if you do hope to meet new people for potential relationships. Additional Note – some people may remove wedding rings at some locations — look for a lack of a tan in a ring shape on a person’s ring finger of their left hand.]
  13. No thanks, I believe in protecting myself from having bad experiences and this feels like the beginning of a bad experience.
  14. No, really, I was just leaving, really, really quickly.
  15. No, I have Mace and know how to use it.
  16. Thanks but no thanks. That means no, in case you are hard of understanding.
  17. No for today, but let’s try again another day when we are both not inebriated. That does still mean no for today, though. Just to be clear. But you seem nice. Thanks for asking.
  18. No, I’m saving myself for myself.
  19. No, I’m saving my purity for my future children and I don’t like condoms.
  20. No, I don’t do that with people I just met, even with a condom.
  21. No, really, as in not today, and probably not tomorrow either.
  22. No, not in a million years.
  23. No, not if you were the last man on Earth and I was the last woman on Earth.
  24. No, a thousand times no.
  25. No, I have a lawyer and know how to use her/him.
  26. No, I have a whole lot of STDs and I don’t like to share them with anyone. [Note – this might earn you a reputation that you don’t want. It may be best only for people who actually do have a whole lot of STDs and who don’t like to risk sharing them.]
  27. No, thanks, I have to go wash my hair — and everything else you may have touched.
  28. No, I don’t want a shoulder massage or anything else from you.
  29. No means no, and it will always mean no, not maybe, or yes if you just keep hassling me longer. That’s what this Mace is for. It likes saying “No” and making it stick. So, you have been warned. Quit hassling me RIGHT NOW.
  30. Yes, I did smile in your general direction, but that doesn’t mean that I instantly fell in love with you or ever want to have sex with you. So for clarity’s sake, that is a “No.” No, I didn’t smile in your general direction because I want to have sex with you. [For more info – research does suggest that guys can get the wrong idea about a woman’s interest level very easily: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201112/sex-and-smiling-when-is-smile-not-smile]
  31. No thanks, I have a headache just thinking about the idea of doing that with you.
  32. No thanks I have to go water my houseplants, like right this minute — they need me and I love them.
  33. No, I have a police whistle and know how to use it.
  34. No, and take warning: I have been trained in self protection maneuvers and would hate to have to break any of your body parts, but I will do what I have to do in order to protect myself from you violating the privacy of my body.
  35. No thanks, you seem like a really creepy and disgusting person, and I and my future children deserve better than that.
  36. Not a chance buddy. Yes, that does mean “No.”
  37. No, I’m saving myself for someone else; I’m not sure who, except that it’s not you.
  38. No, I would rather not participate in a meaningless encounter with you even though sexual release does have health benefits — use a sock like everyone else.
  39. To do or not to do?” Not, this is definitely a “Not” situation — and for clarity’s sake that means “No, I do not want to have sexual relations with you.” [Note – “to do or not to do” is a paraphrase of a line by William Shakespeare from the play “Hamlet,” “to be or not to be, that is the question.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_be,_or_not_to_be]
  40. No thanks, it sounds fun but let’s think about that a little later in our relationship.
  41. No, not today, let’s get to know each other a little better first. Thanks for being understanding about my desire to learn more about you before we get more intimate with each other.
  42. Whoa, what do you think your fumbling around down there is going to get you? A knuckle sandwich? And for clarity’s sake that means take your hands off me this instant or your knuckle sandwich is going to have a Mace dessert.
  43. Let’s slow down and enjoy getting to know each other before we start talking about sports terms, such as “getting to second base” or “hitting a home run,” — and just for clarity’s sake that means “No,” not today, but maybe another day, with appropriate contraceptive aids.
  44. Yes, you have heard correctly, I have enjoyed fooling around, in the past, but that was in the past. Now I’m saving myself for a more serious relationship, and I’m not sure how serious you are. So for clarity’s sake, that means “No,” not today and not until I get to know you better.
  45. No, I’m a little tipsy and you’re a little tipsy and we’ll have a much better time if we wait until we are in better shape and I also don’t like the idea of risking an unplanned pregnancy that might cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in the unexpected bundle of joy.
  46. No thanks, I really have to get home and feed my dogs, my big, protective dogs, like right now, this minute. Bye.
  47. No, do I have to get out the Dictionary? No means “No,” take your hands off me, or I may have to use that Dictionary in a way it was never meant to be used, and I would really feel bad about that.
  48. No, I need trust in a relationship and I don’t trust that this is a relationship. By the way, that means “No, I do not want to have sexual relations with you.”
  49. Yes, I did raise my middle finger at you, but that wasn’t an invitation, it was intended as a good-bye, as a “No thanks, not a chance, zilch, zip, Absolute Zero chance of that ever happening.” And for clarity’s sake that does mean “No, I do not want to have sexual relations with you.” [Note for more information on the absolute absence of heat: http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemistryfaqs/f/absolutezero.htm]
  50. No, I do not want to have sexual relations with you. [Note — it seemed to be the main point; and Clarity is a good thing. So it felt good to conclude by giving the phrase its very own line.]

And I will also repeat the national hotline for sexual assault type issues contact information: RAINN, Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, 1-(800) 656-4673, = (800) 656-HOPE, https://rainn.org.

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./