“You Could Be Nicer”

So, I’ve been on a little bit of a social media diet. It probably doesn’t look like it to folks who follow and interact with me because I’ve gotten real strategic about it. I still hop on several times a day, I just don’t stay because, frankly, I have a lot to do and for me personally, there are SO many rabbit holes. I’ve found that my self-imposed limitations have really served to keep me from re-reading stories and news and to prevent me from seeing 7 different versions of the day’s outrage instead of just 1. So, it’s working and yet…

slide2The heightened political and social tensions have brought so much stuff to the forefront. I don’t think anybody would deny that. One of the pieces of stuff that I’ve noticed is a whole lot of attempts to disarm pissed-off women. Now, I know this will come as no surprise to those of you who are married to or live with a woman, or who grew up with sisters, but disarming a pissed-off woman is as tricky as disarming a pissed-off man. Our society has not  seemed terribly interested in disarming men, but we’ve gotten real good at disarming women. Yep, we’ve gotten so good at disarming women that now women will do it to each other. Here are some examples of the ways I’ve seen people attempting to disarm pissed-off women. People tell them to:  1) get the “real” facts or simply state that the disagreement is because of her lack of smarts, 2) let all of that anger go and find some gratitude, 3) focus on herself and her family (you know, because that’s less stressful), and 4) find a nicer way to say what she’s trying to say. “You can say all that in a nicer way, you know without the anger (or the cursing, heaven forbid there be cursing). You can fix it without anger (been there, tried that).” When I see these kinds of responses on social media, I can just hear somebody saying: “You can win more flies with honey you know.”

And you know what? It doesn’t make me any less angry. In fact, it makes me angrier. Why are we so invested in making women stop being angry. And WHY if we’re so invested in women not being angry, don’t we listen to them instead of shushing them? I’ve got a bit of a rant I’ve been sitting on. If you’re not up to it, you may want to bail out now, but if you’ve never seen me rant, by all means hang in for pure entertainment value. I just want to make something clear. There is no particularly nice way to say: “No, I won’t put up with that shit anymore.” There is also no mean way to say it. Acknowledging that your boundaries are being crossed by other humans or by society is not really something that gets judged on the nice/mean continuum. It gets measured as necessary and healthy or unnecessary. Someone who tells you that you are being mean for having a boundary and expressing it has their own crap going on that has nothing to do with you. You know who gets to decide if your boundaries have been violated? You. They don’t like the way you say it? Tough.

slide1There is no nice or mean in imposing your boundary verbally, there is only saying it or not saying it. There is no “mean” in saying that you have a boundary, saying that you know where your body ends and begins, saying that all people deserve dignity, saying that women are not playthings, saying that truth matters. There is no nice or mean there, EVEN if you add curse words and pound on the table when you say it. You are under no obligation to turn down your anger. You are under no obligation to be concerned about someone else’s discomfort when you indicate that you will not tolerate the prevailing conditions. To the suggestion to “turn down your anger”…. I say to that speaker: “Turn up your justice.”

I know where I end and you begin. I am very clear on my space in this world and it is as wide, expansive and free as my spirit and I intend to inhabit it fully, breathing out love and commitment to building a beloved community. I will not be bound by someone else’s discomfort.

slide5How are you faring in today’s contentious arena? Are you speaking up? Are you being interrupted? Are you able to withstand the discomfort of others? Are you even getting a chance to say who you are? If you need it, I can help. Building Better Boundaries starts with you. They will learn them. It may take a while, but they’ll learn them.

~Julia

6 thoughts on ““You Could Be Nicer”

  1. It is an uncomfortable time socially and politically and as women it can be difficult to make ourselves heard without being shushed. I enjoyed reading your post, and agree that women need to be encouraged to speak out n a forthright manner when we see that something is unjust. Thank you for sharing this piece with us at Hearth and Soul, Julia.

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