During the interview, Matt Lauer asks each woman how she ended up getting kidnapped and locked in the bunker. One woman, Cyndee, recounted:
"I had waited on Reverend Richard at a York Steak House I worked at, and one night he invited me out to his car to see some baby rabbits, and I didn’t want to be rude, so…here we are."
Here's what happened to a young girl in in Shanghai when she ignored the advances of a man in a bar:
“Basically it happened after I said I wouldn't dance with him. He kept coming after me, and then he poured champagne over me. When I asked him to go away, he did it again. The next thing I knew, he'd come back with the bottle and hit me in the face with it, and it smashed as he did that.”
Her attacker’s brutal actions broke her jaw in two places and she was covered in blood from the broken glass. Read more >
But, for the most part, women are "polite" and "afraid to be rude"... because it is so, so powerfully socially ingrained.
Lessons we've learned and relearned since childhood are hard to overcome -- and the most chilling example I've ever seen of this was shared by Eva Moses Kor, a holocaust survivor and Forgiveness Advocate. She is the author of several books, including Surviving the Angel of Death: The True Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz; Echoes from Auschwitz: The Story of Eva and Miriam Mozes; and, notably, Forgiving Dr. Mengele.
This is a story she shared when asked, What do holocaust survivors think of their tattoos?
The tattooing was at the end of our first day at Auschwitz. I was the second to last person in our group of 26 people to get a tattoo, and I decided I was going to fight. I was not going to let them touch me. I didn't really know how much it would hurt, but it wasn't the tattoo that bothered me as much as my thought, What right do they have to do anything to me physically? And maybe it was my only way to make a stand against what had been happening to me all day long.
When it was my turn, I began to really carry on. I don't know how I had the chutzpah. I don't really understand it. I just thought, I am going to have to take a stand. There were four people trying to pin me down on a bench because I started screaming, kicking, and even punching people who started to come close to me. You might say I went berserk, but I did it on purpose to stand up against what was happening to me. The women were holding me down by my head and legs and arms and one of the Nazis grabbed my arm. The only thing I could do was bite. I don't even know how I managed to do that because they tried to keep me flat. But I snapped up and bit his arm. I vaguely remember deciding to do that, but I don't actually remember doing it. From the way I was raised, to bite someone was so crude that I had to block it out of my mind to preserve who I thought I was. I only remembered it when Miriam reminded me in 1985. She said, “Not only did you create a general confusion, but nobody knew what to do when you bit the Nazi holding your arm.” Miriam remembered it better than I did.
As I am thinking back on it now, something is clear in my mind: When I decided to give them trouble, I thought I needed an excuse to misbehave. I was going to be a nice girl. I was not going to misbehave, even in that crazy place. So I said, "I will let you do to me whatever you want to, but I won't let you touch me unless you bring my mother here." I knew as I was saying that at age ten that there was not a prayer in the world I would see my mother. The way we were ripped apart earlier in the day, it did not seem like we were going to be reunited. But it is amazing to me that even under those circumstances, I felt I needed some good excuse to act the way I did. Carrying on like I did – that did not seem proper to me. Now I think, How on Earth could you expect to be proper in Auschwitz?
I must have been raised to be a very nice girl. Whatever we learn as little children, it stays with us forever. (That is why early childhood is so important.) Read more >
And, sure. Times have changes since Eva Kor was a little girl... but women and girls are still inundated with the message that they need to be "ladies," "nice girls" who are "polite" and "well-behaved." In fact, as I wrote in 10 Things to Remind Your Daughter to Do Every Day That Are More Important Than Brushing Her Hair,
According to Higgins (1991):
- Parents are more likely to exert control over daughters than sons.
- There is a greater pressure on girls to be nurturant, obedient and socially responsible than there is on boys.
- Parents respond more quickly to girls' than boys' mistakes.
- Parents are more likely to interrupt their daughters than their sons.
- Parents are more likely to intrude upon and direct daughter's activities.
- Parents maintain closer track of girls than boys.
If you are a parent with daughters, one way you can help them improve their whole life is to explicitly teach them to be assertive. Explicitly teach them that it is okay to be "rude" -- because, most of the time, what people tell girls is "rude" is actually just her saying no or enforcing her boundaries.
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt would have turned out a lot differently if Cyndee had told the creepy reverend,
NO! STOP ASKING.
You're making me uncomfortable right now -- I said no.
Did you read in your pathetic little pickup artist book that if you badger me, I'll change my mind? I said no.
Leave me alone!
No. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to work.
Are you f@$king kidding me? Back off!
Want to know more? Check out Why Most People Suck at Saying No - And How You Can Start Improving Today. Or, for a more comprehensive approach, may I highly recommend:
The Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand Up For Yourself At Work and In Relationships, by Randy J. Paterson.
When I Say No, I feel Guilty, by Manuel J. Smith, Ph.D.
When you feel more comfortable enforcing your boundaries, you will have more joy and less resentment in your life. And you'll spend less time kicking yourself for letting someone take advantage of your "niceness," at the expense of your time, energy, money or even safety.