Straight Talk Advice

Dear Mr. Limbaugh: No means No—Or it’s Sexual Assault

Oct 07, 2014

Rush Limbaugh woefully irresponsible for saying ‘no sometimes means yes’

Dear Straight Talk: Here's one for your panel. What do they think about Rush Limbaugh's advice to guys that when a girl says no, it might actually mean yes? Really enjoy your column. —John, 70, Rohnert Park, Calif.

Taylor 17, Santa Rosa, Calif. Ask me a question

No never means yes. No means no. End of story. If you're playing hard-to-get, you should lose out because no should ONLY be used for no. If you mean yes, SAY YES! We learned this in first grade, folks: “No means no and yes means yes.” For boys, too! And if the person pulls back or hesitates, that also means no! Rush Limbaugh is making things worse.

Lyra 18, Sonoma, Calif. Ask me a question

No absolutely means no. Flirting and opaqueness are fine and good, but prior to any move, GET VERBAL CONSENT. Signals get misinterpreted or the person flirting isn't wanting more. Clear communication and consent is really, really important.

Gregg 23, Houston, Texas Ask me a question

Rules of consent are big at my college. In summary: Before we kiss, I ask, we agree; before we take clothes off, I ask, we agree; and so forth. If she hesitates in any way, you stop. If there's one sip of beer [or any intoxicant], it's off. Sound overblown? It's not. The need for these rules is, unfortunately, real. One in 5 women are assaulted while in college! If our murder rate was this high, of course there'd be rules of conduct! Rush Limbaugh's comment is woefully irresponsible and out of touch. You meet scumbags bragging about using or forcing girls. They're sickening and I tell them so.

Brie 23, London, England Ask me a question

When a girl says no, it means no — even if she said yes earlier. And, if she's intoxicated, going forward is rape, even if she says yes. Be the hero who gets her home safely and calls the next day, not the sleazebag who takes advantage of her. As a college student, I sometimes wear an engagement ring to stop the heckling. I've actually never been verbally asked for consent, probably because when I'm into a guy, he can tell, and when I'm not, it's apparent. (Reading and delivering clear body language is vital throughout life.) But if I was asked, I would think the guy was polite!

Christina 22, Marysville, Calif. Ask me a question

Don't be a predator. When a girl says no she means no. In fact, often when a woman switches to yes, it's because she was persuaded, felt obliged to make the other person happy, or wanted the guy to leave her alone. This doesn't apply to just sexual relations.

Julian 16, Napa, Calif. Ask me a question

If a girl says no, it's no. Sometimes my girlfriend teases and does want a kiss. But boys should not kiss if she says no.

Breele 20, Dana Point, Calif. Ask me a question

The rapist is to blame in sexual assault. That said, girls definitely sometimes say no when they mean yes. They need to communicate more clearly — and get a backbone. Unless you physically cannot remove yourself from a bad situation due to force or date-rape drugs, get out of there! I've always found a way to physically remove myself from bad situations. Sure it's socially awkward, but the alternative is guys pushing forward even though you're saying no.

Dear John: Several things account for this rate of sexual assault, which includes the now-common scenario of being raped while passed out from date-rape drugs or drinking: 1) Boys raised on hard-core porn often feel entitled to sex yet are socially-sexually inept and frustrated. 2) Fewer fathers/father figures teach boys to never harm women. 3) Increased alcohol and drug use. 4) Increased mental problems. 5) Increased entitlement and narcissism (frat boys are biggest offenders).

Solution: Infants and children must be shielded from toxic stress, which includes hard-core pornography, so they develop healthy brains and sexual systems, and an intact sense of Self. To accomplish this, at least one warmly-attuned relatively stress-free parent needs to consistently enforce healthy rules around screen media, food, sleep, exercise, morals/values, quiet, work, and access to nature. The less screen media, the easier the task.

Editor's Note: Every 21 hours there is a rape on a college campus, almost always by an acquaintance of the victim. One in 4 women will be sexually assaulted during their academic career (this includes high school) and 1 in 5 are assaulted during college. For men, 3 percent will be sexually assaulted during their academic career. What is perhaps most disturbing about these sexual assaults (besides their occurrence), is that while 1 in 12 college-aged men admit to fulfilling the definition of rape or attempted rape, none of these men identify themselves as rapists.

This is how 'normalized' the sickness of sexual assault is and why the rules of consent are so important. I really appreciate men like Gregg who stand up to these so-called men when they boast. My next wish is that people would turn them in. You guys know who they are.

Not surprisingly, alcohol and/or drugs are usually involved. What most young women don't realize until too late is that many men assume that a women who drinks on a date is probably willing to have sex. And if she's not willing, about 40 percent of men who assumed she was, find it acceptable to force sex on her. Who raised these boys??

The biggest college offenders are the most entitled and narcissistic: the frat boys. Frat boys are three times more likely to rape than non-frat boys. Earlier this year, a Georgia Tech fraternity was put on probation after circulating an email called "Luring your Rapebait". They also had an unthinkably misogynistic song that they sang together about graphically hideous ways of raping and killing girls. From the lyrics, clearly the group not only felt entitled to harm women, they were hard-core porn addicts. This frat should have been closed permanently.

A Wesleyan fraternity was suspended in 2012 after living up to their nickname the "Rape Factory". Unfortunately, this frat was reinstated, too. And fraternity brothers at Yale had their video of frat boys marching through campus yelling, "No means yes, and yes means anal" go viral in 2010. This charming chant about anal rape and others about raping unconscious/dead women are more evidence of the truly sociopathic behavior that results when you mix narcissism and entitlement with the social and sexual damage that comes from hard-core childhood porn addictions.

These men need rehabilitation and I'm not sure how that's going to happen because society won't admit to its internet porn problem — especially as it relates to childhood exposure. And when you're in the fishbowl, like this whole generation is, they don't even know there IS a fishbowl. We owe it to children to protect them from the damages of hard-core porn on the growing psyche (which includes the sexual system), or things are going to get worse.

The most dangerous time in college to get raped is the first few weeks of freshman and sophomore year. That said, please use vigilance year round. —Lauren

Safety Tips to Avoid being Drugged or Raped:
• bring and/or open your own drink
• don't drink out of punchbowls
• don't let go of your drink
• don't let your drink out of your sight, say while hugging a friend
• discard drinks that were unattended or out of visual sight
• never go out without friends and don't separate once you're out
• never drag a passed-out friend into a bedroom to "sleep it off"
• keep anyone passed out in a public part of the party and guard them
• Better: Don't drink at all... but be wary of your water being drugged
• Best: Don't party. Hang out with people doing something interesting with their lives.

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  1. By Ed, age 16, from Los Alamitos, CA on 10/08/2014

    I agree that “no” should mean “no,” and I would never sexually assault someone.  However, contrary to the implication of some of the comments, girls are not always totally blameless in these situations.  I know girls who go out of their way to sexually provoke guys (including me)  by showing the maximum cleavage and wearing the shortest, tightest shorts that sometimes even expose their butt cracks and flirt with guys and make sexually suggestive comments.  Then, when the guy makes a pass at her, it’s “HOW DARE YOU!” and she’s furious.  While I’m not saying it’s right, girls who do this are inviting sexual assault, but then it would totally be the guy’s fault and all girls would agree that it’s his fault and the “poor” girl is blameless.  Like some who wrote last week, my sisters walk around in their thongs and go to the shower naked and don’t always close the door to their room when they are undressed.  I’ll have to admit that this gives me uncomfortable sexual feelings.  I’m confident that I would never act on them, but if I did, I’m sure that it would be considered to be all my fault.


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    1. By S.C., age 17, from Carmichael, CA on 10/09/2014

      Sexual assault is obviously wrong and criminal regardless of how a girl dresses and behaves.  However, girls who dress and behave the way that Ed describes are playing with fire, and there are many girls who do this, although certainly only a small minority.  I am sorry to say that my younger sister is one of them.  She shows maximum cleavage and wears tight low rise jeans and shorts that show a large part of her crack.  I’ve also heard her and her best friend talk and laugh about how they like to tease guys about sexual matters and then rebuff them when they try to make a move on them.  It may sound strange, but it makes me sick to see her dressed this way even though we share a room and I see her nude every day and that doesn’t bother me in the least.  I guess it’s because she looks like such a slut.  I’ve tried to warn her that some day she’ll be sorry, but she just laughs it off.  She also walks around nude and in her thong in front of our 12 year old brother and thinks it’s funny that it’s starting to bother him and says “he’s only 12.”  Well it’s my understanding that this is around the time that many boys reach puberty.  He used to sometimes walk around in his underwear in front of us, but never naked, but this stopped about a year ago which indicates to me that things are changing for him and he now is noticeably uncomfortable and tries to avert his eyes or turn the other way, but my sister somehow gets a kick out of exposing herself to him.  I never do this and undress in our room with the door closed and wear a robe to the shower. 

      While it certainly would not justify a rape or sexual assault, this is still taking a very big risk.


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    2. By LAUREN, from on 10/11/2014

      Ed and S.C.—Please see my comment to John below. A lot of it applies to you as well. Sorry, so busy.—Love, Lauren

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  2. By TM, age 57, from San Francisco on 10/11/2014

    I hesrd the show in question and Rush Limbaugh never saud that no means yes. He said ut takes a special skill to know when it does.  Taking somebody’s words out of cintext is a typical tactic to impugn someone’s character.

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    1. By LAUREN, from on 10/11/2014

      TM—If you read the panel’s responses, they actually point out the times that Rush Limbaugh’s statement is true. What we are saying here is that in today’s world, it is IRRESPONSIBLE and OUT OF TOUCH for a pundit in his position of power to tell men that no can mean yes, under ANY circumstances! He should be upholding the need for a code of conduct, not undermining it, which he was, and which WAS the context of his directive.

      EVERYONE, male and female alike, needs to get clear that no means no and yes means yes, because with 1 out of 5 college girls getting sexually assaulted we’ve got a problem, Houston. I hope this clarifies where we are coming from. Thanks for writing in. Love, Lauren

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      1. By TM, age 57, from San Francisco on 10/12/2014

        I completely understand and agree.  My point is that Rush’s points are consistently taken out of context and twisted around to make it sound like something he didn’t say.  To the casual listener who is only paying scant attention, they can be easily fooled into thinking he said “Hey you guys, no really means yes… go for it!”.  I heard the show in question and that interpretation is the furthest thing from the truth.  Maybe you should call his show about it. I’ll bet they’ll let you on. Besides, he could explain himself better than I can. 1-800-282-2882.

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  3. By John, age 16, from Toledo, OH on 10/11/2014

    It’s true that some (not all) girls dress and act in a way that says “yes, yes, yes” and then a guy is supposed to immediately put on the brakes when she suddenly turns around and says “no.” It’s like slamming on the brakes of your car when you’re going 100 miles per hour!  While I agree that it wouldn’t justify sexual assault, which is never justified, girls who do this are inviting trouble, and I know that what I’m saying will make many girls mad as they take the position that the girl is always 100% blameless and is the victim who deserves nothing but sympathy.  It seems to be a common theme in Straight Talk, and my sister also lets me see her nude and in her thong with or without a top.  She decided to go on a “nude is natural” trip and says the human body is nothing to be ashamed of so she parades around nude.  Our mom actually agreed with her and thinks it’s good that she’s so “comfortable” with her body.  While I would never attempt anything sexual with her, if I acted on the sexual feelings that this gives me it would of course be considered all my fault.  I think that if she wants to be “nude and natural” she should do it in the bedroom with the door closed where nobody would see her but our younger sister who she shares a room with and there would be no harm since they’re both girls and are sisters.  My younger sister is much more modest and would never let me see her this way, which is fine with me.


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  4. By LAUREN, from on 10/11/2014

    John—Unless you speak up, your family (which sounds all female, you don’t mention a father presence) is no doubt clueless to the fact that this is arousing. It’s mindblowing how clueless so many women are on this topic as regards their son. That said,  in this world, if you don’t communicate that there’s a problem, there is usually no change.

    You are correct that boys will be in the most trouble is there is a liaison between a male and female family member. Of course, that’s not why I don’t recommend it. In your sister’s case, it doesn’t sound like she is arousing you on purpose, just out of pure dopiness, with your mother being the biggest dope of all. Again, with dopes, you sadly have to speak up, they aren’t going to get it otherwise.

    This isn’t saying you need to be all mature about it and sit down with a serious conversation… no male your age is going to be able to do that. It’s totally fair to communicate by being a pill… yelling, “Ew,” or “no fair” or “foul” when she parades around, or banging on the wall or bouncing a basketball loudly when she’s parading, or bursting outside slamming the door behind you around to communicate distress. When then YOU are yelled at, you yell back, “I can’t live here with her walking around like that. Get a clue, would you?” This works, too, and I support it. Of course, when you grow up, I expect more out of you, but at your age, I’d be proud if you made yourself heard like this.

    All this said, let’s revisit your opening sentence because it’s disturbing. And I don’t blame you—you are reflecting a common misconception. Up until the last eyelash flicker of history, girls were ALWAYS blamed for being sexually assaulted, maybe their ankle flashed, or they were out alone late at night. I don’t care if a girl is flirting with you wearing nothing but thong underwear, men can definitely stop the car going 100 mph. You just put on the brakes and come to a halt. Or you have a steering wheel, and you turn and leave. It is a dangerous myth that men can’t stop once at a certain point of arousal. They totally can. And if a girl says no, you need to do just that. Build a relationship with a girl who isn’t emotional disturbed, because the ones who flirt while baring a lot of skin and then say no, are usually troubled, and frankly, you don’t want to mess with them even if they say yes. I hope this helps and clarifies my position.—Love, Lauren

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  5. By Amy, age 43, from Auburn, CA on 10/12/2014

    I agree that opposite sex siblings should not see each other nude or in something like thong underwear if it makes one of them uncomfortable.  However, I see nothing wrong with casual nudity between opposite sexes as long as they are comfortable with it as in our home.  I have a 17 year old daughter and 14 year old twins, a boy and a girl.  The twins have always shared a room and are totally comfortable with it and are still comfortable with nudity in front of each other.  I know this because I have specifically asked them, and have no indication that they are not being truthful.  The twins are very close, and while they get along reasonably well with their older sister, they are much closer to each other.  When my younger daughter was 12 and I noticed she was beginning puberty when I saw her nude, I asked her if she would like to start sharing a room with her sister instead.  She was very much opposed to the idea.  My older daughter would much prefer to keep her own room.  It may sound unusual, but my younger daughter says she is more comfortable about nudity with her brother since she has always shared a room with him and is not used to her sister seeing her nude.  They had always slept in a double bed, but I did insist on twin beds when they reached puberty just as a precaution even though they did not see the need and I really don’t think that their continuing to share a bed would have resulted in sexual relations as they love each other as a brother and sister, nothing more.

    My older daughter will be going to college in another year and the twins can then have separate rooms.  Until then, I figure “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”  In know that many will disagree and in fact many people have told me that I should be having the girls share a room, but I think it is best to leave well enough alone.


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  6. By Tom, age 16, from Santa Rosa, CA on 10/12/2014

    It turns me off, not on when a girl shows too much cleavage or wears low rise shorts or jeans that shows off her butt crack.  Tight jeans or shorts on a girl with a good figure is a turn on, but not exposing her crack as some girls do these days.  Seeing a girl’s crack just makes me uncomfortable and embarrassed.  It does not attract me to a girl.  Most decent guys I know feel the same way.  While I agree with everyone else that “no” means “no” and that no girl should be sexually attacked because of they way she dresses, girls who do this should know that many guys think that girls who go out of their way to expose their cleavage and cracks are advertising that they are available for sex whether it is true or not.  My sister sometimes dresses this way since she thinks it makes her more attractive to guys.  I’ve tried to tell her the message she is sending, but it falls on deaf ears.  Fortunately for me, she doesn’t walk around naked or in her thong in front of me like the others who have been written about.  But just having to see her cleavage and crack makes me very uncomfortable and embarrassed, and I’ve heard that she has the reputation of being a “slut” because of this.


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    1. By Emily, age 39, from Anaheim, CA on 10/12/2014

      My daughter is only 14 and wants to start dressing this way.  She idealizes her 17 year old stepsister with whom she shares a room on visitations and constantly tries to emulate her.  This really concerns me, as I do NOT believe that her stepsister is a good role model.  It started with her wanting to wear thong underwear, since that is what she saw her stepsister wears.  I relented on this as I realize that many girls even this age wear it.  However, even though she’s only 14, her breasts are well developed and she wanted to wear low cut tops that accentuated her breasts and also wear low rise jeans and shorts that exposed the top of her buttocks because this is how her stepsister dresses.  She even wanted to start waxing so that she could look like her stepsister in that part of her body.  I refuse to allow these things which has caused a great deal of conflict. I cannot control what her stepsister’s mother allows, but I refuse to allow my daughter to look like a “sexpot.”  I also agree that girls who dress this way are sending the message that they are looking for sex, and while no girl “deserves” to be sexually assaulted, they are not totally blameless innocent victims when it happens.


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