Need Proof That Women Are Taught to "Be Nice" - Even When They're In Danger? Prepare to be Horrified.
Anyone I've had a longer-than-eight-minute conversation with in the last year has probably heard me say that women need to #BeRude. It's also something I've blogged about -- as per The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Gif All Women Need to See Immediately:
During the interview, Matt Lauer asks each woman how she ended up getting kidnapped and locked in the bunker. One woman, Cyndee, recounted:
There are several reasons women are "afraid" to be rude. An extreme one is that, in the words of Louis C.K., "The single greatest threat to women... is men."
At times, women are afraid of being "rude" out of fear. As I wrote in The Secret "Catcalls" of Educated White Dudes,
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.”
Again, this is an extreme example. Most women don't believe -- and feminism is certainly not about how -- all men are violent rapists. The fact remains, this kind of thing does happen, and it factors into how women behave.
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.
All proceeds from her books and DVDs benefit the museum she founded, CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, Indiana.
So, for context: at ten years old, this woman was taken to Auschwitz, where she lost all of her possessions and her entire family was sent to the gas chambers -- except for her and her twin sister, who became the subject of horrific medical experiments by Nazi doctors.
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.
Eva Moses Kor shows her tattoo: "Three weeks after they tattooed me, they came back to repair it because you couldn’t read it at all. I wasn't any more cooperative." Read more >
"Even under those circumstances, I felt I needed an excuse to act the way I did."
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):
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!
And if you are a woman who struggles to say no, reframe the way you think about "rudeness." It's not rude for you to say no. But it's extremely rude for people to keep asking after you've said no. It's not rude for you to say, "STOP touching me!" It's rude for people to touch you without your consent. It's not rude to remove yourself from an uncomfortable situation -- it's rude for people to put you in uncomfortable situations.
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.
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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