Sex in the modern world: Can even a 'yes, yes, yes' actually mean 'no?'

Sex in the modern world: Can even a ‘yes, yes, yes’ actually mean ‘no?’

When commentators analyze the new wave of women’s struggles, one of their conclusions is that “no means no” is not enough to lead to a “happy sex life.” This is because it still leaves space for more subtle forms of coercion.

Recently, in The Guardian, we saw an exemplary case of this line of argument: “Badgering someone into queasy submission might technically be within the law, but it is not the road to a happy sex life and it may no longer protect a man from public censure,”  wrote journalist Gaby Hinsliff. She was covering the views of Erin Tillman, an American ‘dating coach’ who believes the potentially ambiguous absence of “no,” but the enthusiastic presence of a “yes, yes, yes” or affirmative consent is what is required nowadays.

“In 2018, ‘no means no’ is totally antiquated. It puts all the pressure on the person in the most vulnerable position, that if someone doesn’t have the capacity or the confidence to speak up, then they’re going to be violated,” Tillman has said. “If somebody isn’t an enthusiastic yes, if they’re hesitating, if they’re like: ‘Uh, I don’t know’ – at this point in time, that equals no.”

Modern phrases

One cannot but agree with all the critical points in this passage: How a weak “yes” under pressure equals “no,” etc. What is problematic is the demand for “the enthusiastic presence of a ‘yes, yes, yes.’” Because it’s easy to imagine what a humiliating position this condition can put a woman into who, to put it bluntly (and why not?), passionately wants to get laid by a man. Basically, she has to perform an equivalent of publicly stating “Please f*** me!”

[Extract. Appeared in RT on March 4th 2018.]

Ippolit Belinski

Ippolit Belinski is the admin of He is an independent scholar working on Carl Schmitt and Hannah Arendt. Belinski has yet to publish his manuscript, though he often justifies the lack of publications by proclaiming to be a poet instead.

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