I went on a date the other night, and she paid for everything – drinks, dinner, and the bar tab we ran up until two in the morning. A few days later, I was telling a friend about my weekend, and she jokingly asked if I put out that night. I replied, “Well, yeah, I had to, after she spent so much money, right?” We laughed. Yes, we laughed because it was ridiculous to think that I had any obligation to have sex with my date simply because she paid for the evening’s activities. It was laughable. Ludicrous. Inconceivable. And yet, how many men out there think that the money they spend on a date entitles them to something in return?
As a child, I learned about chastity and abstinence, and then I read books too adult for my young eyes for my real sex education. I would play on the playground with my friends, and we would separate into girls vs. boys. We would pull hair. We would snap bra straps. We would tease and mock and pick on the girls who inhabited our nightly dreams. And they would giggle or get mad and tell us to stop, and we learned that was called flirting. We would hear and see and learn that when she says no, it means you work harder so you can show her you’re worthy of a yes. We would go to the movies and watch it in action. Every movie hero wanted the girl who said no, because it meant he finally had to put some effort into the chase. Why are we so surprised, then, when our society continues to churn out men who don’t recognize the word “No”? They don’t see rejection as a chance to look inward and improve oneself; rather, it’s something to be challenged at best, and ignored at worst.
The rules are simple; yet, they’re not. Women are told they should play hard to get, and men are told those are the women worth having. Nobody learns to say yes when they mean yes and no when they mean no, but we’re supposed to navigate those dangerous waters or we’re told that we’ll die sad and alone. But until we reach the point that we’ve moved past these misogynistic mating rituals where acts of aggression and dominance are rewarded by society at large, here are some rules of yes and rules of no:
- Am I entitled to sex if I paid for dinner? No.
- What if I spent over $100? No.
- Am I entitled to sex if we’ve been on three dates? No.
- Four? No.
- Six? No.
- A hundred dates. C’mon, a hundred? No.
- What if she’s agreed to be my girlfriend? No.
- We made it Facebook official? No.
- We’ve had sex already on previous nights? No.
- We had sex already that day? No.
- Am I entitled to sex once I’m engaged? No.
- What about once I’m married? No.
- But what if it’s been a while? No.
- I pay all the bills and she stays at home and we haven’t had sex in a month? No.
- What if we’re the last two people on Earth and I just saved her life from a cyborg dinosaur with laser eyes? No.
- If she said we could have sex the next time we went out, and this is that time, even if she hasn’t said anything about it? No.
- What if she gets really drunk so she forgot to say okay? No.
- If I’m really drunk too? No.
- We’re both equally drunk? No.
- What if she’s been ignoring me and finally smiled at me? No.
- If she fell asleep or passed out and left her door open? No.
- If she told her friend that she wanted to have sex with me, and her friend told me? No.
- What if she says no, but she smiles? No.
- What if it’s Opposite Day? No.
- If she invites me over? No.
- But if she’s wearing something sexy? No.
- And then we make out? No.
- And we get naked? No.
- And we’re about to have sex, but she has second thoughts? No.
- If she doesn’t explicitly say no? No.
- What if I’m really horny? No.
- Really, really horny? No.
- What if she drinks so much she passes out? No.
- If she told me yes before she passed out? No.
- I deserve sex if she’s just a tease, right? No.
- But what if she’s just been leading me on? No.
- If she laughs about it? No.
- Am I entitled to sex if everyone else has had sex with her? No.
- But that must mean that clearly, she’s easy, and doesn’t care who she sleeps with? No.
- If she tells me she’s interested in me? No.
- What if she says she usually has sex on the first date? No.
- If I beg her until she says okay? No.
- If she initiates sex and then changes her mind? No.
- So, when am I entitled to sex? Never.
If she initiates sex, or I initiate sex and she consents, and at no time does she change her mind, offer resistance, or in any way demonstrate that she’s unwilling to proceed, through body language, verbal cues, or a combination of both, or incapable of proceeding/providing consent due to intoxication, then can I have sex? Yes. But you’re still not entitled to it. Appreciate it. Enjoy it. Have fun with it. Love it. But don’t expect it. Don’t demand it. And don’t you dare ever, ever think you deserve it.