As feminists, we have allowed men (disingenuously claiming not to understand normative conversational conventions) to set the agenda, such that we have accepted the need to educate women to produce refusals which men cannot claim to have ‘misunderstood’. This, in turn, has led only to an escalation of men’s claims to have 'misunderstood’, to be 'misunderstood’, and, in general, to be 'ignorant’ about women’s (allegedly different and special) ways of communicating. Men’s self interested capacity for 'misunderstanding’ will always outstrip women’s earnest attempts to clarify and explain.
This article is fucking fantastic, and it is absolutely worth reading the entire thing, and linking it to people you’re conversing with who are skeptical about the issues involved.
I have myself occasionally looked askance at claims that men are misunderstanding ‘clear social signals’, simply because neurotypicality is a spectrum, which can leave people unable to read signs that seem obvious to others, even without necessarily being obviously neurodivergent.
Kitzinger and Frith make an exceptionally well structured case that demonstrates just how universal these conversational signals are.
They additionally examine the (in hindsight blindingly obvious!) fact that encouragements to give a “simple, clear, NO” run counter to commonplace etiquette, whereby saying “no” outright to anyone in any social context is discouraged, and produces feelings of discomfort in speakers of all genders.