In the Eighties, Nancy Reagan coined the phrase, “Just Say No To Drugs.” A shorter version, immortalizing the notion in slogan was, “Just Say No.” The catchy slogan has some value beyond the original intent of helping vulnerable youth find a way to fight peer pressure which might tempt them to try drugs. The concept has wide practical application, from work scenarios, to telemarketers, to perpetually needy family or friends. In truth, it could apply to any sort of pressure which subjugates us to the will of another person, people, entity, or entities, which chirps like baby birds hoping to be fed of us, and it should be applied in all of these cases.
But, it won’t work.
The problem with the word, “No”, is that it’s not heard often enough that’s it’s truly understood. The word, “No”, is met with a bit of disbelief, some expectation of equivocation is contained within this foreign notion of a word. My dogs understand the word, “No”, and slink away with their tail between their legs upon hearing the reprimand. Humans, however, upon hearing the word, turn their head, quizzically, to the side, raising an eyebrow, and one furry ear, puzzled that they would hear such a bizarre thing. They pant, and they whimper, stricken with confusion and incredulity.
The word, “No”, comprised of only two letters, isn’t of the proper stature to meet the tall order of defiance. Instead of just saying, “No”, I would suggest just saying, “Fuck you”. It’s an attention-getter. The pushy car salesman who responds to, “No” with further insistence that you do, indeed, need to purchase the extended warranty for the vehicle he just assured you was extremely reliable, will respond quite differently to, “Fuck you.” There is no further question. The conversation has been had, with no further need for discussion. What “No” lacks in resolve, “Fuck you” may compensate for, in either the soft-spoken eloquence of candor, or in blood-knuckled, pugilistic spirit.
Sadly, the government wouldn’t be able to use, “Just Say Fuck You” for anti-drug billboard campaigns. “Fuck you” is out, no matter how much they would like to fuck you, and me, and everyone. There’s probably a law against using the term. Besides, it would be too honest if they said so, and it would seem there is a law against honesty in governance as well.
While a powerful statement, some might feel some reluctance in using the phrase, thinking it a full frontal assault, a brash alternative, a poke in the eye with an extended middle finger, but it is none of these things. “Fuck you”, in this context, is less about the other person than about ourselves. It is, in its finality, an affirmation of self, a frank statement of divergence on a proposed course of action. It is an adult acknowledgment that we need not agree on everything, but that no ground shall be surrendered this day.
Hold your head up high, and say it proudly, smile and let them see the joyful twinkle of sincerity in your eyes. The next time doe-eyed children in brown sashes and skirts awaken you from a nap, banging on the door and demanding that you buy cookies, don’t say, “No”, just say, “Fuck you.”