Gender, Social Justice

If I say no to you, I mean it

"I'm very persistent," says a random guy.

That line stands out in conversation. It’s a line that’s been said in movies or to your face that’s meant to be a pick up line which it most certainly is not. It’s one that has been said to me and I’m sure to many other women too.

It’s common for women: unwanted compliments, cat calling, workplace harassment. It’s part of being a woman, part of our daily existence to be on the receiving end of unwanted male attention.

After I’ve told you “no, you cannot have my number,” that’s when you say “I’m very persistent,” with a smug look on your face. Even as the conversation proceeds, you ask me the same question I’ve already given an answer to.

At first, I don’t pay much attention to it. Then, as I replay the conversation in my mind, alarm bells go off.

What the hell is that supposed to mean? That you’ll stop at nothing to get what you want, even if it’s not what I want?

At this point, I become uneasy. Like, really, I’ve answered you: no. Of course, I know you’re gonna ask me again. Which you do.

Why do you think that constant barrage of questions is something attractive? As though you’re saying, ‘Look at me, I am man, I get what I want,’ in some caveman voice.

What you should want is a clearer understanding of English.

Your lack of apology makes me feel like I shouldn’t trust my own judgment. That I should feel uneasy for being true to what I want, for trusting my gut.

Your persistence makes me feel like I should trust a man over myself, because men somehow know what is better for women.That we are weak and can’t make our own decisions.

Pop culture and the people around us have taught us that women should yield to men. That men are supposed to save us from ourselves. That men are supposed to correct all the things we’re doing wrong. Because men are right.

I refuse to give in. I refuse to appease men who won’t listen. And every man is going to have to deal with that whether they like it or not.

My refusal is a hit to your toxic male ego, which shatters with rejection, because you’ve always been given what you want.  And you can’t deal with that. That’s not my problem. I have 99 other problems to deal with.

Men, you have to respect our decisions whether you like them or not. Not everything is about you, even though you have been brought up to believe that.

It’s unfortunate for you that your privilege – and my response – has led to this sudden but necessary awakening. I am elated that I could’ve been part of history in the making.

So really, you’re welcome that I didn’t give you my number. And I’m not going to give it if I don’t want to.

As  TLC put it, “No, I don’t want your number, No, I don’t wanna give you mine.”

Sorry, not sorry, persistent guy.

  • Saffiyya Mohammed

    Caribbean woman but not by your preconceived notions; there’s a Trini everywhere so I’m the one here. As the Senior Community Editor for The Tempest, she knows two things for sure: writing can change the world, and if you have a story to tell, you owe it to yourself to share it. Born and bred island girl, she’s contemplating the next destination for her adventure while also being a bibliophile, writer, and planeteer.