It was a perfect day for romance. The birds were singing, the flowers had just opened their faces to the early-spring sun, and I was walking hand-in-hand with a new date. I was midway through a story about a neighbor’s uncomfortable sexual advances when my love interest said something that stopped me in my tracks. “Reina. It’s not that hard to say no.”
My words froze in my throat. I was an adult, empowered, feminist woman. So why did I find it so hard to tell the neighbor to buzz off—and why was I finding it even harder to contradict my crush?
My love interest at the time was completely wrong (and kind of a jerk). Saying no is difficult, especially for those of us who aren’t cisgender men. After all, we’re trained from birth to be pleasing and agreeable in our intimate and professional interactions, and to prioritize others’ emotions at the expense of our own.