Ellie Mae O’Hagan tells us that women should indeed be allowed to say no without getting smashed to the ground. This being an obvious truth. What she’s missing is that we did actually have a society in which that was true:
I believe we can organise society differently. As well as obvious protections to prevent women from being harassed at work, and harsher penalties for gendered violence, we can organise around a better set of values. We can raise boys with a stronger sense of empathy, respect and humility. We can represent women better in public life, and tell their stories. We can acknowledge that Gabrielle Walsh was not punched in some freak incident by a person who was born evil: she was attacked by a man who felt entitled to her because he lives in a society that has encouraged his entitlement. We can make sure the girls growing up today experience something better, but doing so requires the courage to change the society we live in now.
There were things wrong with that patriarchy of old. But it did also have that idea that no really did mean no. That while women might be in the kitchen their sexuality was inviolate.
Oh, sure, rape still happened but it was regarded as a vile and extremely serious crime. It was a hanging offence and then a possible life imprisonment one.
No, I don’t advocate going back either. But perhaps something was lost along the way?