On a recent evening, I was at a coffee shop, headphones on, working on some writing. Suddenly, a man I didn’t know walked right up to my table.
He was harmless enough. He wanted to joke about the fact that my table was the only one in the entire shop that had the full roster of condiments set out. Hovering awkwardly, he waited for me to laugh along with him, and finally walked away when he realized all he was getting was my blank, mildly irritated stare.
As women, we have been unconsciously backed into this corner where we’re expected to be ‘nice.’ Unconditionally. Regardless of our feelings.
And I lived like that for many years. Trying to be nice and laugh along, regardless of the circumstances. It wasn’t until certain situations played out in my life that I recognized the following:
While I aspire to be a kind and Christlike human, I don’t need to make people feel okay with crossing boundaries or infringing on my personal space by responding in a stereotypically ‘nice’ manner.
Continuing to use the coffee shop example – was my life in danger? No. But should I be expected to respond well to a strange man entering my personal space and forcing me to stop my work just so he can feel like he cracked a good joke? Absolutely not.
Let’s use a different example. I live in a home that, before I moved in, had a long roster of tenants. Last summer, I pulled into my driveway to see a car full of strange men sitting there, waiting for someone to get home.
Did I nicely ask them why they were there? Hell no. I let them know that they were trespassing and that they immediately needed to get off my property – that the people they thought lived there were no longer around and that they were not welcome to wait around or come back.
Thankfully, they got the hint.
I’ve told male neighbors with no boundaries that they are not allowed to cross property lines into my backyard as they tried to enter my personal space to talk about something. I’ve lunged out of the way and called out bad first dates who tried to kiss me when it was clear I didn’t want them to do so. I have put space between myself and men in professional settings who decided I should not have a normal personal bubble.
We have been conditioned to set nice on autopilot. Women – we need to turn it off. I want to be a kind, gentle, and compassionate person. However, I do not want to be a person who compromises my boundaries, my personal space, or my safety just to avoid hurting a man’s feelings.
Men are not owed ‘nice’ women. ESPECIALLY not when being nice costs us peace of mind or puts us in a dangerous situation. Let’s course correct.