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I’m Not That Kind of Girl, or Am I?

January 25, 2012

Today I received an email from ladyyaga of Hour 13 with a link to a blog post she wrote, I’m Working on My No, which was in part inspired by my post So My Ex is Dating Someone New. While her post is in part about rape culture and the ability to stand your ground and say no, it’s more about standing up for yourself in everyday situations firmly yet calmly and politely. She starts off saying:

After reading this really awesome definition of rape culture from this equally awesome post on street harassment in Allston,  I started thinking about all the trouble I’ve gotten myself into in life because of the ingrained, reflexive obligingness taught to and expected of all females in this culture. Few would describe me as easy to deal with, and yet even my mouth is constantly making smiles when I don’t feel like smiling, “Yes”es and “Sorry”s that I don’t really mean and yet somehow feel absolutely obligated to perform. Simply put, I’ve let men walk all over me on many occasions.

No one, including myself, likes to consider themselves the kind of person that would let other people walk all over them, especially in a romantic relationship. I would never consider myself that kind of person, and if you ask my mother she would tell you I can be kind of a bitch sometimes, or rather that I’m assertive and direct when it come to asking for what I want, but when it comes to romantic relationships, I have a hard time demanding what I want and need.

You see, I don’t want to be that kind of girl, I don’t want to be “oversensitive” or take my “issues” out on my significant other (even though I don’t have one at the moment), I don’t want to be demanding, I don’t want to be needy or desperate, so I end-up pretending like nothing is wrong. In avoiding being all those things, I repress a lot of emotions… In wanting to appear happy and easy going, I sometimes end-up incredible frustrated, because I don’t ask for what I want.

Ladyyaga wrote: “the next time I feel offended or uncomfortable, I’m going to take a good hard look at the situation instead of assuming that I have “issues” or that I’m “oversensitive.” She makes a good point when she says it’s important to say no and to stand up for yourself without apologizing, without being dismissive of your own feelings. It’s a hell of a lot better than letting things build up inside… until hurt feelings turn into something bitter or passive aggressive… until your feelings turn against you in a self-destructive way.

The trick is, how do you do it exactly? How do you demand something without being demanding? I haven’t mastered the skill of subtlety. Where do you start? Where do you find that kind of balance? How you can be assertive without being a bitch? How can you demand to be treated in a way you deserve without… without… putting the other person off?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 25, 2012 6:30 pm

    I think the people who say that women are “demanding” or “oversensitive” are usually the types of people who don’t really understand human emotions, in general, and therefore get bent out of shape by ANYONE expressing emotion — women, dogs, cats, fellow men, paranoid androids, what have you. Alternately, they’re the types who like to hold people back by dissing them publicly. That’s a generalization, of course; some women ARE demanding, and some are oversensitive. But telling someone they’re either one is not really the solution to the problem (if it actually exists).

    Honestly, the most demanding people in the world have probably never given a rat’s ass about whether or not people perceive them that way. And if someone told them they were demanding, they’d probably just snap, “Yes, I AM demanding. What’s your fucking point?” and push said jerk out of their face. (Think: Madonna)

    So I guess what I would say is pick your favorite woman who knows how to get things done her way, and channel her. Don’t second-guess yourself. Just ask “What would Marlene Dietrich do?” (or whichever lady you like) and then do it. Let the idiots sort out their own problems in your dust.

  2. January 25, 2012 6:33 pm

    “Don’t second-guess yourself. Just ask “What would Marlene Dietrich do?” (or whichever lady you like) and then do it. Let the idiots sort out their own problems in your dust.” Haha, love that… Now, I have to read up on Marlene Dietrich. Actually, a little off topic, but I keep meaning to read Katherine Hepburn’s auto-biography. She was a pretty hardcore woman.

  3. ladyyaga permalink
    January 25, 2012 10:46 pm

    Thanks for the mention and the response; I guess I what I would question is, why do you think you can’t be demanding? I’m not talking about bitchy, or selfish. But is it really selfish to ask for the things you need? Why must you be “subtle”? I think there’s an assumption deep in there somewhere that your needs are not going to be met and that there’s something very unacceptable about looking out for yourself first. And I feel you, boy, do I feel you. But is it possible that, in deeply believing our needs are not going to be met, we are performing some bad juju that could negatively affect the real outcome?
    Not to get all feminist on your asses (okay, ABSOLUTELY to get all feminist on your asses– see how deeply that apology reflex is ingrained?), but I recently went to some article that had you calculate how much you spend on food. And I, as an unemployed lazy bum who hasn’t signed up for food stamps, spend way, way less than the average male my age. That pissed me off on a very primal level. Move over, boys, I want my share of the gazelle. I’m hardly a dollar chaser, lol. But think what the divide between what single young men and women spend on food, and what it symbolizes. Then tell me that there is not a sense of relative deprivation among women. We expect to get less. We expect to have our feelings hurt. We expect to act like Marlene Dietrich– whatever that means, I’ll take it to mean “geisha”– to get our way.

  4. January 26, 2012 8:46 am

    I second ladyyaga. What’s wrong with being demanding? I for one am a demanding person. I’m demanding with myself first—I give of myself to others without counting—and I feel that this entitles me to be demanding with others. It’s not about being bitchy or bossy, it’s really just about setting your level of expectation. This is acceptable for me, this is not.

    The hard part is when you reset your expectations and you have to renegotiate the dynamics of a relationship based on your new expectations. It’s hard because the other person will resist that. Of course they would prefer you don’t raise your expectations. But in the end, if someone is able to step up to the plate, that’s usually a sign they are a keeper.

    More generally, I’d say that anyone who is successful in an area of life is so because they have a certain standard which they are not willing to go below. I would even say that having expectations is a prerequisite for success.

    You have to have a way to sift through what you will accept in your life. If you sift too permissively, then you’re erasing yourself in the favor of others. I wonder if this is what’s happening with you and your ex?


  1. I Feel Vulnerable Being Demanding « Cuntlove
  2. Blogging Got Me Into Trouble « Cuntlove

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