“No” should be enough

A coworker of mine has a tattoo (one of many) on her arm, indicating she is part of “Straight Edge Culture”.

If you’re interested Wikipedia says: “Straight edge (sometimes abbreviated sXe) is a subculture of hardcore punk whose adherents refrain from using alcohol, tobacco and other recreational drugs, in a reaction to the excesses of punk subculture.” Check out more here.

She took a pledge to never do drugs or alcohol. I applaud her decision, but it bothered me. Why take a pledge? Why not just live your life as you want, without the actual pledge? I didn’t ask her, as it really isn’t any of my business, but also because I didn’t want her to take it wrong. I’m all for people leading the life they want, as long as they don’t hurt anyone else. But it didn’t seem necessary to take a pledge.

Then I remembered something that happened to me a while back. My late husband and some friends were filming in downtown Rockford, IL. It was a bright sunny day and I joined them after they finished. Jason warned me that one of the women was a bit of a drinker and that she would probably ask me to have a drink.

I didn’t have a problem with this. I don’t drink much, and know how to say no and stick with no. Peer pressure is never an issue. If I seem to change my mind, it’s because I was on the fence to begin with. I wasn’t concerned about someone trying to pressure me into drinking.

So I went to hang out and as soon as the particular girl could, she started to drink straight from the bottle. She shared with everyone, and when it came to me she asked if I wanted a drink. I said ‘no’. To me, that was the end of it. For her, it wasn’t. She kept asking and asking, even though I gave a firm ‘no’ each time. Finally, Jason told her I didn’t drink and she stopped.

Though I appreciate that he stopped her, I didn’t think an explanation was necessary. And it shouldn’t have been. “No” should be enough. Neither I, nor anyone else, should have to explain why we don’t want to drink or do drugs. “No” means no, but in today’s society, we have learned that if we push, then we may get a different answer.

It goes from the benign, “Gum?” “No, thanks.” “Oh come on, you want gum! Everyone likes gum!”

To the malignant, “Sex?” “No. Thanks.” “Oh come one! You want sex! Everyone likes sex!”

We live in a culture that denies the answer ‘no’ or at the very least demands an explanation. If someone says ‘no’ we should learn to say ‘ok!’ and move on. There is no reason to push someone to do something they don’t want to do, even if it is as benign as asking someone if they want some gum. No means no. Stop it.

My conclusion on the pledge: society demands an answer other than ‘no’.

We want an explanation. The pledge is the explanation. I believe an explanation shouldn’t be necessary.

“No” should be enough.

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