One common misconception about feminism is that it's not about "equality," it's about giving women more rights than men. Guys (which I obviously mean in a totally gender-inclusive way). This couldn't be further from the truth.
Real feminism seeks both to eliminate inequality and to empower women to live their lives the way they want to. Meaning that some change has to come from men. But some change has to come from women.
I mean, we're equal, right? That means that men and women need to improve.
And one of the ways in which women need to improve is in their use of hedging language.
Hedging is the term linguists use to describe words and strategies to soften what you're saying. Instead of, "Bill, that's not going to work because the product doesn't have those specs," hedgers say, "Hey, Bill? Don't you think that we should maybe come up with another idea? I'm not sure if the product has those specs, does it?"
When you use hedging language, you sound cautious and timid. You don't sound like you're confident in your idea, or like you think your opinion matters.
And. When you hedge, you open yourself up to being steamrolled and ignored. For example:
Me: Bill, that's not going to work because the product doesn't have those specs.
Bill: Really? Oh. What about if _____?
Hedging Me: Hey, Bill? Don't you think that we should maybe come up with another idea? I'm not sure if the product has those specs, does it?
Bill: I like this idea -- the specs look fine.
If you're having trouble getting your ideas heard at work, it could be because men are sexist jerks. It could be because you're using too much hedging language. Or it could be a combination of both.
I saw an almost comical example of hedging language today when the captain of my co-ed frisbee team, the Craturns, sent out an email:
Hey Ladies of Craturns,
Please respond with whether or not you're able to attend tonight.
Also, I'm curious as to whether you all prefer to go 4:3 or 5:2 when we happen to only have four ladies. I know a lot of time it gets tiring, but I've also been told a lot of players love the extra playtime and I'm interested in hearing how you all feel about that. Let me know and hopefully see you tonight!
Translation: at the beginning of the season, everyone in this league -- man or woman -- received the same information. The price of this league if $109. It's co-ed, and there will be three women and four men per team on the field. That's what 4:3 means.
Because men are more likely to play fun team sports than women (something I discuss in detail here), men's signups filled quickly. Soon, the only way men could join was if they signed up with a woman. That's how my buddy Zack got on the team.
Every single person in the league knew from the beginning that this was the case. The guy:girl ratio is 4:3, and a lot more guys signed up than girls. That was the information we all had when we signed up online, committed our next, like, 15 Tuesday nights to this team, and entered our credit card information.
Even the way it is, I'm a little frustrated with the amount of play time I get -- in order to be "fair," I have to sub out with another woman after every singe point. Once in a while, I get to stay in for two points before subbing out.
It's not the best possible use of my time. I'd rather run hard for fifteen minutes or more and then sub out, when I'm actually tired. But, whatever. At least I don't have to sit out as much as some of the guys.
Which is why, when I saw Chris's email, I responded right away:
I'm coming tonight, and I definitely prefer 4:3.
I thought about saying something a little more extreme, like, "I'm quitting the team if we go 5:2," but decided it would be better to start with a "definitely" and take it from there.
But then the next woman responded:
I'll be there too. I'm fine either way.
Somehow, I sort of doubt she has no preference either way. But who am I to gaslight someone and tell them their opinion is wrong? Who do you think I am -- Everyday Feminism?
And then the next response:
I'll be there tonight. I like playing a lot, so 4-3 is good. But also fine with 5-2 if we have a lot of dudes and not a lot of ladies.
In other words, "Here's what I want -- but it's okay if the guys want something else, because their opinion matters more than mine."
Twenty minutes later, another response:
I'll be there. i prefer 4:3 if we have the women but if we have a lot of men then 2 women is ok i guess. thanks for asking for our opinion chris.
Again: "Here's my opinion, but it's okay if you ignore it, I guess."
I'll be there, happy to play 4/3 but you guys know my athletic level now - so I need to be able to sub out. Sounds like we'll be stacked tonight.
I think we can call it each line if we want to roll 4/3 or 5/2. Does not need to be static.
"Happy to play 4/3." I'm not going to try to interpret that. It could just as easily mean, "I prefer 4/3" as, "I would actually rather play 5/2, but everyone else said 4/3, so I guess that's fine."
Wouldn't it be better if people would just say what they meant?
Seriously, women. Do better.
Be like me. I made my opinion clear, and will continue to do so. I've even considered a few possible in-person scenarios in which the men on my team try to reduce women's playtime, and thought how I would respond to them. Because it's much easier to write an email than it is to respond on the spot.
(I make it a point to follow my own advice -- otherwise, what's the point?)
Here's another sports example from the last 24 hours. (Seriously. It happens that often.)
I went to the gym to play pickup basketball. The way it works is, you play games to 22 points. The winning team stays, and then the next five people who were waiting are on.
I had to wait almost two games to get on, because there were already five waiting when I arrived. When I finally got on, my team owned it. My shots were going in, and people were making great cuts and playing hard defense.
Because we won, we got to stay on. We played the next team -- and won!
After that, only four dudes were waiting to play. Someone's 4'11 girlfriend was waiting for him to finish playing -- and rather than wait a few minutes for another player to show up, a guy on my team invited her to be the fifth man...
And then they tried to make us guard each other.
"Absolutely not," I told her friend. "She's two feet shorter than me, and clearly doesn't know how to play. Guarding her is not going to be a good use of my time, and I'm not going to go easy on her. You invited her to play. You guard her."
Sure, maybe that made me look "mean." But you know what's actually mean? Expecting me to waste my time guarding a tiny, skinny little girl who doesn't even know how to play basketball, just because we both have vaginas.
Here's how the stereotypical woman would have responded in my situation:
That accomplishes nothing. You don't get what you want. You waste your time, you don't get any exercise, you miss out on an opportunity to improve your skills, and you feel all resentful about it later.
Here's how, perhaps, one of the women on the Frisbee email would have responded:
Well, I guess we can guard each other, even though I like playing against people who actually know how to play.
Again... is the end result you getting what you want? No. It's you getting steamrolled, wasting your time, and missing opportunities.
Yes, there's a double bind, and women are sometimes socially punished for being assertive. But, trust me: you're probably WAY overestimating how "rude" you're being. As I wrote in The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Gif Every Woman Needs to See IMMEDIATELY, "We routinely overestimate the cost of saying no."
Just like we overestimate how "rude" people think we are.
What do you think a dude would do if some other dude tried to take away his play time? "No way, man!"
What do you think a dude would do if some dude started touching him on the subway? "What the fuck, man?!"
Trust me: you're not being rude.
Stop hedging. Do better.
Zack Z (buddy)
11/9/2016 11:55:13 am
At last night's game our team played 4-3 for the vast majority of evening. We did this, and won, even when the other team went 5 men/ 2 women due to lack of ladies. Our women excelled at covering their weakest male. The game was competitive and largely free of cheap foul calls.
11/13/2016 09:57:19 am
I wasn't surprised. It's not like girls are SO much worse at sports that the best girl is worse than the worst guy. I don't think you even necessarily need to limit it to the "weakest" male -- I'd rather match up by size/ability than assume that all women can only guard the weakest male.
11/10/2016 10:31:14 am
I find that both sexes tend to hedge but that might be because I'm British. In Britain, people are much more reluctant to state their opinions strongly.
11/16/2016 12:57:58 am
Hmm. We do a certain amount of what might sound like "hedging" in my household, say over choosing a restaurant.
11/16/2016 10:36:23 am
That's a good point -- as long as people are actually showing a degree of preference, and not just being vague/submissive. In the frisbee example, I know for a fact that every single woman on the team (except for one) wants more play time. That is their preference. But then, right after saying so, they mutter something about how the guys might want to play more, so they're willing to sit out more so the guys get more play time.
Leave a Reply.
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
Want to support The Happy Talent? CLICK HERE!
Or Find me on Patreon!
What's Popular on The Happy Talent:
Trending in Dating and Relationships:
What's Popular in Science:
Playfulness and Leisure Skills:
Popular in Psychology and Social Skills: