Ways women say no, non verbal signals, and how to ask if they’re enjoying sex

Ways women say no, non verbal signals, and how to ask if they’re enjoying sex
(Picture: Ella Byworth for

The Aziz Ansari allegations recently shared by Babe, and the ensuing conversation around the situation, have painted a disappointing picture of what consent means to a lot of people.

It undoubtedly has a lot to do with the phrase ‘no means no’, as well as some dangerous ideas about how women and men should act around sex.

Men, for example, are conditioned to think that sex is something to be obtained. We’ve all seen the movies, heard the songs, and even watched the porn that tells us there is a game for a man to play, with the prize being getting someone to sleep with them.

Women, on the other hand, have been told to be polite and not bruise their sexual partner’s ego, lest they be deemed a b*tch, a prude, or worse, end up dead.

Many people – female and male – immediately identified with the account of ‘Grace’ (the alias of the woman who made the allegations against Ansari). The constant, unrelenting pressure, leading to giving in but feeling empty and violated afterwards.

Ways women say no, non verbal signals, and how to ask if they’re enjoying sex
(Picture: Getty/Ella Byworth/Tumblr)

Others said it was a case of ‘mixed signals’ and questioned how Ansari could’ve possibly known Grace was uncomfortable. The answer is that there was a number of ways, both verbal and non-verbal and that – unconsciously or not – his actions amounted to coercion.

It’s hard for me to have the same conversation about both partners trying to care about each others’ feelings in a sexual act, because it seems so self-explanatory. However, it’s clearly not.

So, this is a guide on a myriad of cues and get-outs that women (or men) might use, and ways you can check they’re into it without killing the mood. Print it out and stick it on your wall if you need to, for goodness sake, because knowing this is essential each and every time you have sex.

Ways women say no

I say women, because it tends to be them caught in these moments and often the power imbalance falls in a man’s favour which necessitates these statements. Of course there are outliers, but this is in response to the societal issue rather than every sexual encounter ever.

More people are learning that it’s not just the word ‘no’ that takes away consent, and that you need enthusiastic consent before you go ahead with sexual contact.

Ways women say no, non verbal signals, and how to ask if they’re enjoying sex
(Picture: liberty-antonia-sadler_metro)

Women often don’t like using the word ‘no’ straight off the bat, because of the danger that can be posed by refusing outright. They might want to test the waters with something softer and retain the relationship in the hope that it really is a misunderstanding.

If you hear any of the following, or a variation of them, that means stop.

  • I’m on my period.
  • Not tonight.
  • Maybe later.
  • I’m too drunk.
  • Slow down.
  • I’m not ready.
  • I think we should wait.
  • Let’s not do this.
  • I don’t want to feel forced.
  • I don’t know.
  • I have work early tomorrow.
  • I’m too tired.

If you’re still wondering why women are using these phrases rather than aggressively screaming and running out of the door, please check out the WhenWomenRefuse blog documenting the violence that has occurred to women who do bluntly refuse.

Really hearing and taking action after these statements can turn an uncomfortable situation into a sigh of relief.

Ways women say no, non verbal signals, and how to ask if they’re enjoying sex
(Picture: liberty-antonia-sadler_metro)

Non-verbal signals

The idea of there being ways to determine a partners interest other than them rolling out a red carpet to their genitals and saying ‘please shag me’ seemed an alien concept to many.

Reciprocity should be key in any sexual encounter, and if you aren’t seeing your partner enjoying it or actively participating, this isn’t reciprocal.

Similarly, look out for these signals:

  • Freezing up and not moving or talking.
  • Crying or seeming distressed.
  • Moving away from you.
  • Closing their knees or obstructing their genitals in any way.
  • Seeming in pain.
  • Pushing you away (even if you might conceive this to be in a ‘playful’ way).

The problem with people thinking the only thing Ansari is guilty of is not being able to read minds, is that they’re framing the encounter as rape or not rape, when regardless of its legal standpoint he should’ve been looking to see if she wanted what was happening to her.

What you need to know about fantasies of being raped/nonconsent
(Picture: Ella Byworth for

How to ask if your partner is enjoying sex

There are still people out there who genuinely believe asking if everything okay during sex is a mood-killer.

Personally, I think there’s nothing sexier than someone who’s responsive to my needs as well as their own, and it doesn’t just work in terms of consent but also makes for great sex all round.

Before you have sex, ask things like ‘can I kiss you?’ and ‘this feels great, but just checking we’re on the same page about what happens next’.

Asking something as simple as ‘is this good for you?’ in the moment also takes away any ambiguity that it hasn’t got to what the other person might see as a ‘point of no return’.

If you see that as the mood-killer and not the potential that they might not be happy with what’s going on, maaaaybe you’re part of the problem.

More: Sex

A general rule that I think most people should stick by is that if they do think they’re experiencing mixed signals, err on the side of caution rather than going ahead.

Being horny, drunk, or otherwise judgmentally impaired does not give you the right to ignore others’ boundaries and safety.

Use all three of these cues to judge whether your sex will be consensual and fun for both parties.

Whether it’s a casual thing or a long term relationship, you need to be in tune with others’ needs. Sex is an act between two (or more) people, not just something you can take and be done with.

MORE: Whether it’s assault or not, women must be allowed to talk about bad sexual experiences

MORE: What the Aziz Ansari allegations teach us about consent

Original Article

[contf] [contfnew]


[contfnewc] [contfnewc]

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button