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Opinion: Consent is much more than 'no means no'

Men must realize they hold the power in sexual situations, and women shouldn't feel obligated to say yes


"No means no." Illustration published on Tuesday, March 12, 2019.

No means no, but "sure" doesn't mean "yes."

College campuses constantly advocate for "no means no" in order to raise awareness of the college rape epidemic. While no words can express how important it is to teach college students about consent, there are more important words to say than no.

In sexual situations involving a man and a woman, many women have found themselves in a situation where they do not want to have sex but feel like they are obligated to. Since men typically hold the control in these instances, it seems that if the man wants to, the woman should want to as well.

College-aged men need to realize that they have control in the bedroom, and even if they are hanging out with a woman, there shouldn't be an expectation or obligation to have sex. College-aged women are also responsible for voicing how they feel in sexual interactions even if they are worried about hurting another person's feelings or even their masculinity.

Getting down and dirty is scientifically not the same for both parties in the bedroom. Studies have found that men have high testosterone levels which is thought to account for men having stronger sexual appetites than women. 

It is drilled in women’s minds from a young age that men only want one thing, and even if women say they do not believe it, it is hard to forget those words.

According to an article written by New York Times bestselling author Mark Manson, “Because men and women have traditionally pursued sex to fill different psychological needs, they fail to understand each other and criticize each other for not meeting the need they want met. Men think women are being clingy and manipulative, whereas women think men are being insecure and desperate.”

Both sides think the other has different intentions when being in a sexual relationship, which depends on the context of the situation. Thus, it is important for men and women to communicate these issues when in defining these (sometimes sexual) relationships.

Victor Santana-Melgoza, an instructor at the Hugh Downs School Of Human Communication, said that this issue has to do with how the genders are conditioned. 

“Men are conditioned through media and a variety of places that they are intended to be the aggressor or at least initiator of any sort of romantic or sexual episode,” said Santana-Melgoza. “Women are conditioned, trained and educated to not cause controversy, to always be in the favor of trumpeting whatever company they keep, so quite often they acquiesce to others to not cause problems. This presents serious problems when it comes to things like sexual episodes, and if they don't feel empowered to say something, men aren't conditioned to even ask.”

Santana-Melgoza also said that for over 25 years, there has been a 'no means no' campaign which encourages that silence equals consent. However, there has been a shift to an 'affirmative yes' campaign where, "yes means yes, which is an active conversation as opposed to a passive consent.”

Men need to realize that it's necessary to get an enthusiastic yes. Women need to realize that if a man won't talk to them because they won't have sex, he probably isn’t the kind of man to take home to the parents — or to the bedroom.  

Reach the columnist at and follow @paytonsaso on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the authors’ and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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