I don't have to be "nice"

Photo by marc farlardeau

I don't have to respond to your comments hurled at me while walking down the street. 

I don't have to make myself smaller in order to accommodate your spreading bulk while sitting on the train.

I don't have to smile at you. 

I don't have to make myself seem less than so you can make yourself feel good.

I don't have to respond to your manipulative comments. 

I don't owe you anything for dinner. 

I don't have to worry about making you feel uncomfortable when my safety is in question. 

I don't have to be nice. 

I'm a feminist. I'm almost too independent. I can do anything I set my mind to, and I don't let my sex limit my capabilities. I am a strong advocate for human rights, including equal rights. I'm a strong and confident woman. 

And yet, I have stood and listened to a man as he verbally assaulted me at a bookstore because I am a nice girl. I've shifted in my seat so I wouldn't take up too much space while the dude next to me sprawled over two seats. I've smiled when men have told me to. I've suppressed my knowledge or abilities so a man wouldn't feel threatened. I have felt like I was supposed to 'pay' for dinner with my body. I've wanted to cross the street when I've seen a pack of guys, and yet I didn't because I didn't want to cause a scene. 

Recently I felt like a guy on okcupid was manipulating me, and even as I had that feeling, I thought that I should reply to his message because that would be polite. 

That right there freaked me out. I mentioned it to  a younger friend,  who is  also strong and independent, and she said she has had those same feelings before. 

We don't have to be nice. We don't have to be polite. We don't ever have to put ourselves in a situation we don't want to be in because we are supposed to be nice. There are these societal expectations that need to be broken and I've spent way too much of my life being afraid of what people think of me. 

I would much rather have someone think I was a bitch then compromise myself, my safety or my beliefs. If being a bitch means being a strong, smart and sassy woman, well, yup. I'm a bitch. 

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