Stop_Means_Stop_Trueblue_Magazine_13 Food For Thought

Wilful Ignorance of Social Norms

Sometimes, when I’ve said “no” or “stop” people don’t listen to me.

This isn’t going to be one of those articles where I talk about sexual assault: it’s a horrible thing that happens far too frequently and there are many times to talk about it: this isn’t going to be one of them. Instead, let’s talk about the times when you expressly ask someone not to do, speak, or share something, remove all the innuendo and blurring from what you’re asking—so they know exactly what you’re asking and the reason you’re asking them not to—and, instead of listening to what you’re asking, they blatantly ignore it. Times likes that are when I question why we communicate with people anyway.

If you have given me any indication that you don’t want something shared, even if it’s a discreet hint or said in some kind of murky, joking manner: I will not repeat it and will not do whatever it is you clearly don’t want to. It’s called being a good human being. It’s called being civil. It’s called getting your thumb out of your ass and responding appropriately to the people around you. Please, for the sake of us all: don’t diddle yourself and your own ego into thinking that you have any right or cause to make decisions on my behalf. You don’t. I’ve been making my own choices for a long time. Kindly piss off.

Or, if you don’t, don’t be surprised when I think you’re an unresponsive jerk with a superiority complex and an unashamedly egotistic worldview. Do not misconstrue nicety for my acceptance of your douchebaggery or become defensive and ask if you’ve upset me. Duh: you clearly have. When I ask for something, it’s not for shits and giggles. I genuinely, and based on all the experiences I have had throughout my life, know what I do and don’t want from those around me.

“I am uncomfortable,” “Please Stop,” & “Please Don’t” are not Flippant Statements

Yes, I understand that you have also probably developed an understanding of the things you will and will not respond to. I can accept each of those. However, let me break is down for you: when I say “I am uncomfortable” or “please don’t” do not take it as some flippant statement of a minor emotion that will quickly pass and be forgotten. When “I am uncomfortable” I will actively leave whatever situation I am in and will not return to it. If you are the cause for my uncomfortability because you have decided that what you want to say or do is more important than maintaining a civilized interaction I will be upset with you. When you decide that your wants—because this is a want and not a need—I will also decide something: that I need—because it’s a matter of my own self-actualized understanding of my self and the confidence I have in the world—to exclude you from my interactions. Sorry. I’m not sorry.

Interacting with the people around us and developing effective relationships is a hugely integral part of understanding our place in the world. For every person whose feelings and conversational needs you deem to be less worthy than your own—because let’s face it, all you’re really doing is trying to build your own self-worth up by taking away their power to make their own way through societal interactions—you are actually causing lasting damage to my own conversational comfort and future exchanges. How dare you.

Most of the time it’s not done maliciously, I do understand that.

However intention does not negate effect. I was recently talking to a friend about a hurt—completely unrelated to the interaction that incited this writing—and explained that it’s like rubbing the chalk off a board: yes, you can no longer see what is written, but there is always that residue that lingers. Interactions like that, where half of the interaction is happy to be a jerk and deliberately ignore the give-and-take that effective communication has, are despicable. They create biased and severely asymmetrical interactions. I’m not about that. Instead of take-take-taking, it’s time for some equilibrium.

If you want to keep taking: fine. You go on ahead and do that, but you’re going to have to pick someone else to take from because there is only so much I have for you and when it’s gone, I won’t be replenishing the supply. Find another school, or chalkboard, or whatever metaphor works best for you and don’t try to write something new for me. I’m done reading it.

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