Always be nice; a lesson I learned very early, along with most other women my age, and the one which has been most problematic for me, I think. Even in writing this blog, I have been very careful about the topics I post, so as not to give offense to whomever. I don’t like conflict and avoid confrontation when at all possible. I really thought it was mostly just me, but I’m realizing that it is how most all women are socialized.
Kate Harding’s recently column at Salon addresses part of this issue/problem in reference to the recent shooting at a Philadelphia gym:
Because we’re taught to be polite, submissive, and generous even when men are making us uncomfortable, we automatically reach for the “nice guy, but…” out. Then the guys convince themselves that “nice” is a dirty word, and charlatans like Steele profit from telling men who hate, fear and objectify women, who feel entitled to women’s bodies and enraged when they’re denied access, that they just need to stop being so gosh darned nice to women. And then one of them snaps and starts killing women he describes as not even looking human to him, and we’re all like, “Huh, didn’t see that coming. “
Harding also references a June blog entry by Harriet Jacobs about “how women’s socialization leads to the very behavior we’re blamed for if we have the poor judgment to let ourselves be raped”, which I recently ran across and forwarded to all my young women relatives.
I’ve sometimes cringed at my daughter’s more in-your-face attitude and style, thinking she should try harder to be “nice”. I’m glad she didn’t take that lesson to heart as much as I did from my mother. The old adage is that nice guys finish last, but the greater truth is that too-nice girls never even make it to the track.