Just Say No? The Use of Conversation Analysis in Developing a Feminist Perspective on Sexual Refusal
Title: Just Say No? The Use of Conversation Analysis in Developing a Feminist Perspective on Sexual Refusal
This article aims to show the value of conversation analysis for feminist theory and practice around refusal skills training and date rape prevention. Conversation analysis shows that refusals are complex conversational interactions, incorporating delays, prefaces, palliatives, and accounts. Refusal skills training often ignores and overrides these with its simplistic prescription to `just say no’. It should not in fact be necessary for a woman to say `no’ in order for her to be understood as refusing sex. We draw on our own data to suggest that young women are able explicitly to articulate a sophisticated awareness of these culturally normative ways of indicating refusal, and we suggest that insistence upon `just say no’ may be counterproductive insofar as it implies that other ways of doing refusals (e.g. with silences, compliments, or even weak acceptances) are open to reasonable doubt. Finally we discuss the implications of our use of conversation analysis for feminist psychology, both in relation to date rape and more generally.