I’m Not That Kind of Girl, or Am I?
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?