It’s the final day of 2017… and what a year it has been. It was a time for me to learn, grow, and focus on myself- but also to stand back, observe, and reflect on what is going on in the world around me. If I could have one wish for 2018, it would be for women to reclaim their power, self-worth, and overall confidence. I’ve heard far too many stories from female friends who have questioned themselves based on the words or actions of men. They’ve been lied to, cheated, manipulated, and guilt-tripped. I’ve been there, too. Sure, it was a rough year for a lot of males out there, but the misogyny isn’t over.
However, we can resist it.
We all know the old story: a guy buys you dinner, is a listening ear, or pays you a compliment. Suddenly, due to his kindness, he thinks the attention permits him to treat you in any way he wishes. Since he bought you something, he thinks he has a right to your body. If you didn’t go back to his place after a date, he insulted you and left you feeling as if you did something wrong. When you tell him no, he gives you some kind of sob story of why he “deserves” something from you.
You feel trapped. You feel guilty. You don’t know what to do.
Whatever the case, you don’t owe him anything.
This isn’t limited to dating, either. Have you ever been told to “smile?” Oh, how this irks me! “Smile,” they say. “You look so pretty when you smile.” This is patronizing. We are not objects; we don’t owe anyone a smile, a hello, or a “thank you.” I don’t care what anyone says: it’s not a compliment. I’ve looked at these men with a straight face (okay, a perplexed one) and have gotten cruel comments fired back at me. I’ve been insulted and called derogatory names after making a comment, refusing to smile, or simply ignoring them. This is such a big deal that there’s an entire movement about it.
We’ve also heard the old tale where we politely decline an offer to go out, only to be insulted or guilt-tripped. “Wow, you’re conceited,” or “geez, I wasn’t asking you on a date anyway.” There’s nothing more chilling than a bruised male ego. Don’t take it personally; they simply don’t know how to communicate in an adult manner or accept the rejection.
It’s important to remember to take words with a grain of salt. You can’t truly know someone in a few short days, weeks, or months; it takes time to gain trust, build rapport, and see if there is any validity to what comes out of their mouths. I was chatting with a friend this morning about her recent experience with a guy she’s been dating for a few months. His actions weren’t lining up with his words, and she was confused.
“Don’t lie to me from the beginning with your intentions or keep telling me I’m important when you then turn around and say the same to the other girls you encounter,” she said. “Their words become so meaningless.”
Love bombing seems to be the new ghosting, but this old manipulation trick has been around for years. A guy recently tried doing it to me. After one date, three days, and a lot of compliments, I was suddenly his “sunshine.” Sure, we had fun on the date, but we really didn’t know each other. The overflow of attention and instant commitment freaked me out a little, so I subtly mentioned that he was putting a lot of pressure on me. Two days later, I caught him in a lie. Of course it was my fault! Immediately getting defensive and going from sweet to angry, this was a great example of textbook narcissist behavior. A year or two ago I probably would have thought the “sunshine” thing was cute, but it gave me a funny feeling from the start. Intuition never lies, ladies. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Any amount of money, compliments, or gifts do not permit a human being to treat you like an object or a transaction.
To end this post on a positive note, I’ve been blessed to have many positive male role models in my life, from family members to wonderful friends. I know they’re just as disgusted with the “normalization” of a fascist society. It’s unfortunate that the poor behavior of some ruins it for others. There are too many good men out there to let the bad apples make you lose hope; but please, don’t let a bad apple drag you down with them.
No matter how you ring in the new year, please remember to be safe, look out for one another, and stand up for yourself. Even if you’re out drinking and wearing a sparkly little dress, it does not give anyone permission to treat you with disrespect. You have every right to do exactly what you want to do without feeling uncomfortable or objectified.
I hope 2018 will be a year of self-compassion, clarity, and confidence. Remember: you’re worth it.