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The Right To No

November 4, 2009

In response to Kathryn Holmquist’s execrable notion of “too late to say no”, Amanda Hess at the Washington Citypaper has already done a full takedown, but I felt compelled to add what I think ought to be a basic bottom line:

Anyone ought to be able to refuse to be sexual, in any way, with any other person, at any time, for any reason, or for no reason.*

The whole concept of “Yes Means Yes” is to move past “No Means No” to a more thoroughgoing and positive sexual ethic. But that is not to say that “no” becomes unnecessary or unimportant. In fact, without “No”, there is no “Yes.”

*I’m consciously leaving aside the question of consensual nonconsent among BDSMers — whether I can decide ahead of time that a later decision to change my mind won’t be binding — because it is the most narrow and deliberately separate kind of special case. Discussion of c/nc is O/T on this thread.

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