I recently finished watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a new show on Netflix about a woman who was kidnapped by an evil reverend and held underground for fifteen years with three other women. The show begins with their rescue - after which the four "Indiana Mole Women" appear on the Today Show, with Matt Lauer.
During the interview, Lauer asks each woman how she ended up 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.
To which Matt Lauer replied:
"I’m always amazed by what women will do because they’re afraid of being rude…"
This is a point I've touched on a couple of different times in The Happy Talent.
The first time was in my inaugural post, Advantages of Traveling While Female, in which I wrote:
I think women are most likely to get hurt because they are afraid to be “rude.” If something gets weird and you feel uncomfortable, SAY SO. Confront the person. YELL if you need to. Storm off. DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO. This person is disrespecting you, and there is no reason you need to respond politely.
Arguably, hitchhiking on a scooter might be safer than hitchhiking in a car... But you should probably wear a helmet.
Regarding the "I'd rather hurt his feelings" bit - you're probably hurting his feelings a lot less than you think.
Which brings me to my second "be rude" post. In Why Most People Suck at Saying No, and How You Can Start Improving Today (which was later published in TIME), I wrote:
When it comes to drugs and unwanted sex, we teach our kids to "Just Say No." But in reality, hardly anyone ever “just says no.” We say, “I would, but…” "If it had been any day but today…” In other words, when people ask for something, you’re probably giving them an explanation/excuse as to why you must say no.
As a woman, you're often put in this weird situation where people don't listen to you when you try to politely say no. It's well-documented that a woman's no is ignored much more often than a man's no. Which is probably because women are more likely to use "hedging language," or polite words that soften what they're saying.
To quote the former article again,
In a way, saying no is a low-level form of aggression (one of several reasons why women tend to have a harder time of it than men). But since people are generally cooperative and social, we overestimate the cost of saying no. (Which is why, generally, if you ask for something, people say yes — even if the reason you give for the ask is complete gibberish. Asking, "Can I cut you in line to use the copier, because I am in a rush?" is just as effective as asking, “Can I cut you in line to use the copier, because I need to use the copier?”)
I repeat: WE ROUTINELY OVERESTIMATE THE COST OF SAYING NO.
Keep this in mind next time someone asks you for something. Saying no isn’t as bad as you think.
So, basically, women should practice using less hedging language while saying no -- and worry less about how hurtful the other person will find it when you say you don't want to go to his car with him to see his bunnies. It will hurt his feelings a lot less than you think. And if a dude does get all pissy at you when you say no to him... is he really someone whose feelings you should care about? Is she really someone you want to be involved with?
Remember: when you do something because you're afraid of being rude, you are giving away time, money, energy and EVEN YOUR SAFETY. And you might never get it back.
Indeed, as I wrote in 3 Things I Wish All Girls (and Women) Knew,
I wish more women knew that it's okay to tell someone to fuck off. To get out of my house. To stop following me. To back off. If someone isn't listening to you, it is okay to yell. It is okay to call for help. It is okay to be rude. I mean, let's be real, here.
If you've said, "No," and the guy answered with, "Oh, come on!" -- or by simply ignoring you, or by pretending to comply for a moment before trying again, or in any way other disrespecting your wishes -- which of you is actually being rude?
If you've told someone you don't want him to drive you home or walk to your door or come inside, and he tries to anyway... how are you possibly the one who is rude? In what universe?
And, actually, quite honestly, I totally get why it feels rude to be direct, raise your voice or otherwise enforce your boundaries when someone is ignoring them. I feel "rude" all the time. For example. The other day, I was playing frisbee with a girl friend of mine and a dude we'd randomly met in a cafe. Though he'd been nice all afternoon, he suddenly started negging me. For reference:
So I told him, "Give me back my frisbee."
He looked stunned. "Seriously?"
"Yes. Seriously. Give me back my frisbee. Now. I'm leaving."
And I left.
Because he had been rude to me. He had insulted me. I didn't feel obligated to be polite to someone who treated me badly. I did not feel the need to make an excuse ("Oh, umm, I think I should get going soon. I have a... meeting at six?"). I did not feel the need to give him an explanation ("I don't appreciate that you insulted me. Negging is like, the most disrespectful thing ever, and people who neg are pathetic.") -- because, remember, explanations only give people a way to work around your excuse or objection.
But even so, I still felt a little rude.
Which is why it is SO important to reframe your thinking about "rudeness." And to maintain that thinking. Take time to remind yourself, regularly, that you don't owe anyone anything. Even if he complimented you. Even if he bought you dinner. Even if whatever. You owe him nothing. If he tries to make you feel like you do, he is manipulating you. Don't let him.
Reframe, and maintain.
Finally, in The Stanford Kink Klub has the healthiest sex on campus. Here's why, I shared a horrific story about a house party I attended last summer. I was sitting in the hot tub when I saw a man dragging a clearly very intoxicated (and hardly even conscious) woman into the pool house. I heard some people sitting around a bonfire discuss the event:
"I can't believe she's doing that! She has a boyfriend! What's Jordan going to think?" one girl exclaimed.
Why didn't they act? Why didn't they do something to stop their friend from being raped at a party until I, a complete stranger, said something?
I don't know. But I suspect it had something to do with a fear of "seeming rude" or it "being awkward."
Shitty ass friends. Whenever I see a girl who might not be okay, I stop her and the guy who's dragging her away. I usually pretend I know her.
"Hey! How are you!"
And then I hug her and say quietly, "Do you know him? Are you okay? Do you want me to call someone? Do you need a ride?"
Most of the time when I do this, the girl smiles back at me, appreciatively, and says, "Yes, he's my boyfriend," or, "Don't worry about it - I already called someone." But on one occasion, the girl indicated that she didn't want to be with the guy, so I shooed him off.
"Sorry to cock block, but we've got a LOT of catching up to do! I'll take her from here. Have a nice night!"
Would she have been raped if I hadn't been afraid of "being rude?" It's impossible to say. But rape is horrible, and I don't want to take those odds.
That got a little wordy. If you've been skimming to this point, here's the TL;DR:
1. Women, you're not as rude as you think you're being.
2. Women, when you politely decline an advance, request or invitation from someone and he/she persists, it is that person, not you, who is rude.
3. Women, you don't owe anyone anything. If they try to manipulate you into thinking you do, you can literally tell them to fuck off.
4. Women, if you are afraid of "seeming rude," you are literally putting your life (and the lives of those around you) at stake. What's more important - not risking hurting someone's feelings, or not putting yourself in danger?
I leave you with this:
Burn it into your memory. Share it on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or whatever other social network you're using. Make it a point to put yourself and your safety ahead of some random dude's feelings. It might make you feel guilty at first, but go ahead and go out there and #BeRude.
4/9/2015 08:02:50 am
I wish I'd found your blog years ago! I'm a junior in high school and I'm planning on backpacking alone through Europe after graduating, and this is exactly the kind of thing I need to hear!
4/11/2015 05:33:02 am
Way too cool! Glad you liked it, and have an AMAZING trip :)
Thank you so much, so much for this article. I came across this on my friend's facebook and women *need* to hear this more. We need it drummed into us from childhood, 'Be rude! Say no!'. I struggle with appearing to be rude, so this was such an eye opening reminder. Thank you! <3
8/5/2015 09:45:57 am
I once had some creepy guy follow my friend around at the union. He would stare at her and follow us around at a distance. I spoke to my friend and asked her if she knew him, nobody in the group did and she said he was creeping her out by always shadowing her. So I went up to him and said, please leave us alone. He's like, I'm not doing anything! And I said, yes you are, you're following my friend, do you even know her? He said no, so I said okay, please leave us alone then. My friends said I was being really rude but that one friend was much happier because of it.
8/5/2015 11:27:47 am
That is AWESOME! Good for you! I'm sad your friends were anything but grateful. And, as I'm sure you already know, you were NOT the rude person in this situation.
10/28/2015 01:22:35 pm
So your post gives women the advice to be rude to men who approach them. Well, I never approach women, so I have no problem with that. But sometimes you can't help but interact with a woman. Then what? Do you still advocate rudeness in those situations?
10/28/2015 01:30:22 pm
So, like... did you actually READ the post?
10/28/2015 01:38:56 pm
Also, if you're having THAT much trouble with basic day-to-day interactions, you might want to check out These Specific Behaviors Will Make You More Charismatic, Starting RIGHT NOW. Because it sounds like there might be some sort of dysfunction in the way you interact with people. Especially if you think that not being sexy makes you creepy. There is a very specific set of BEHAVIORS that make dudes creepy. You know?
10/28/2015 02:16:45 pm
I think you completely missed the point of this article. It isn't that women should be rude to men all the time. It isn't even if a woman gets ask out by a man that she should be rude in response. It is specifically that if a man is being pushy with a woman, trying to push her boundaries, or make her do something she doesn't want to do, not taking no for an answer and continue to try, then she shouldn't hesitate to be rude. He is being rude to her by doing this after all.
1/4/2016 04:55:18 pm
I'm not even gonna try to respond to the most of your comment, because as others have mentioned, it doesn't really seem like you read Eva's post. You might want to think about whether you're a nice guy or a Nice Guy (TM). If you're the latter, it's never too late to turn over a new leaf.
1/20/2016 01:39:05 am
He actually sounds like he's taking that door thing too seriously. :| hmm...
3/6/2017 01:30:32 pm
Well stated. And very much the approach to door opening I would advocate and practice.
3/7/2016 03:44:48 pm
Honestly, there's no formula to every situation you come across with women. Just be yourself, do what you want, and let them do what they can do about it.
3/7/2016 04:55:37 pm
I'm glad you have enough perspective not to take the opinions of women you've never even met and don't even know super personally, as a lot of men seem to.
8/18/2017 03:51:14 pm
@Jeff Fisher - Are you sure you're not projecting your own fears into each of your interactions with women? I'm not the best looking guy either and have known lots of other guys who are not good looking. The woman described in your example sounds actively hostile to you. I would say that most women are more likely to be just indifferent towards me.
8/31/2021 05:57:08 pm
She wrote about someone who was almost raped because her friend was afraid of being rude and then you wrote an entire word salad about what? A fking door? Dude sound like you need help.
Love this article, love your sense of strength and relaxed and personable writing style! I started my own girl power blog and have been realizing being rude is not being rude when it involves protecting your self or your sense of safety. How little we value our safety as women when it's in a "social" setting.
1/4/2016 01:57:17 pm
"Imagine if it were a man being touched like that, he wouldn't think twice about a 'What the fuck, man??"'
7/10/2016 05:57:50 pm
"Imagine if it were a man being touched like that, he wouldn't think twice about a 'What the fuck, man??"'
2/21/2016 09:26:25 am
I love this article but I have to point something out. It is not rude to be direct or to say no. On one hand the writer says don't hedge (basically be direct and don't lie) or make excuses, then later in the article gives examples of little lies you can tell to justify being so-called rude. What's the difference? A lie is a lie, and if you feel you need to tell one in order to not do something you don't want to do, then you're real issue is insecurity and you're still stuck in the "I need to make sure this person doesn't feel bad or think less of me" zone.
3/7/2016 04:52:52 pm
The difference is that mot changes aren't sweeping. They're incremental. And people are much better at making changes when they have direct examples to base their own behavior on. Hence the examples. If you don't like the ones I gave, why don't you provide some of your own? I'm happy to add them to the post.
2/17/2018 07:49:42 am
You both make very good points, but I must say Eva, I'm also beginning to feel sick of a culture where we (men and women) all must fear retaliation for standing up for what is right.
5/25/2016 05:22:42 pm
I'm a guy, but I've always been a bit runty and have had to learn to be better about demanding respect from the people I interact with; these days, if any woman treats me like shit, I just abruptly cut off all ties with her, because she's clearly garbage. I wish I had this confidence when I was a teenager: by cutting shitty women (and people in general) out of my life, I only have deep and long-lasting interactions with people I actually like!
5/26/2016 04:27:57 pm
Exactly! You can never get back the time you waste on selfish, disrespectful people. Best to eliminate them.
10/27/2016 07:49:38 pm
Jeff Fisher, as a good looking woman so I've been told, I would never treat you that way. Only cretins who judge unfairly would presume to do so. I know it's disheartening when it occurs, but you have to know there are kind, non-judgmental women out there who are not superficial. I'm one of them.
11/23/2016 05:51:52 pm
In a class, I was watching a guy and a girl say back and forth they hate each other. People often neg in less blunt manners as a form of playing around, because you test how a person feels about you, and you can see their reaction to gauge how you feel about them.
2/4/2017 09:01:46 am
The fact that you can't tell the difference between negging and teasing is why dating coaches exist.
9/21/2017 11:37:30 pm
"fem-what"? See, that disgusting comment is why you get rejected by women. They are sensing your aggression and hatred. Why would any woman want to be with someone who hates women?
11/24/2016 06:08:13 am
Thank you for writing this piece. It is rare to see such reasonable advice for that isn't steeped in hatred or misunderstanding. Standing up for your own feelings and speaking when you don't like something is definitely how more people should go about their business. If everyone did more of this maybe others would have more opportunities to realise their behaviour is hurtful or pushing too far.
The concept of "Rape" that you have its kind of weird. I've listened to my female friends many many times talking about how "i was so drunk last night i cant even remember how i ended up in bed with that guy" or them telling stories about how they woke up barely knowing the guy in bed next to them. Yet NONE of them would claim they were RAPED. None of them were sad or scared. They assumed -correctly- that they are adults who sometimes get really drunk and usually fuck guys -who were also drunk at the moment- and that's that. No one was raping that girl you mentioned in your article, she was just drunk fooling around with a guy -not some kind of monster, just a drunk and probably horny guy- like many people do at parties. No need to call everything "rape " ! since when someone forcing another human being to have sex is the same as two drunk adults making a mistake they will laught about next morning ?
2/4/2017 09:05:49 am
If you really think it's okay to drag a semi-conscious into a shed and rape her, then you are probably a rapist.
Don't Loose Your Edge
2/12/2017 10:32:42 am
Eva, your response holds more emotion than logic. This commenter does have something to learn, and I believe you have a way to teach them. I can point out the sentences in them original post that shines logical fallacys on your response. Instead of responding to a "presumed rapist," maybe respond to this persons question regarding alcohol and consent, what is consent, or the fine-line distinctions that many people may ponder when recalling a typical or unique college-weekend hookup. Don't lose your edge. Stay above emotional responding. It's the only way to retain your wisdom.
8/18/2017 04:13:49 pm
@FKA - c'mon there's a difference between two people being a bit tipsy and having a drunken fumble and a predator guy who is waiting until the women can't even stand before being "a gentleman" and escorting her back home.
7/14/2017 06:58:04 am
Great words of wisdom. Please keep it up
8/19/2017 11:35:10 am
Thanks for sharing
11/12/2017 08:44:25 am
I have just found this post and your site. This is one of the best pieces of writing for women I have ever come across! Most of the articles on this site should be required reading for women (and girls)! You're awe-inspiring! Your work is superb. Have you considered syndicating your articles to popular women's sites? I wish I had found these years ago! I'm from India where such articles are desperately needed and are in dire short supply. An example site, for India, would be "womensweb.in". I, as a teacher, am going to spread these around but I SO wish I had seen these articles sooner because I am thinking of how many students I could have helped in a better manner by providing access to the advice you've articulated so well! Sigh
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Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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