Tuesday, May 31, 2011

being "polite" versus speaking your mind.

so, ladies (this isn't to exclude the gentlemen who might be reading this...this is just a female thing, i think), what's the deal with being polite to the exclusion of saying what you really think?

now i don't mean speaking every little snarky thing that comes to mind. i really don't.  my mama taught me to be respectful and, if you don't have something nice to say, to not say anything at all. i have made use of those lessons many a day (as a teacher, let me just let you imagine how many times i have bitten my snarky retorts back and proceeded with decorum...let me help by telling you that the answer is "a lot"). 

but i'm talking about the feeling that i need to, perhaps in fear of not being polite enough, not say what i really think or not confront a situation.

case in point: church and a new baby.  most of the people that i know at church are more than welcome to fawn over and adore my baby, and a few of them have even held her. i have zero problem with this.  i know them, i trust them, and thus i have no problem with this.  even as an overanxious first time mother with delusions of germs everywhere, i have no problem with this.

i do, however, have a problem with people i don't know coming up to my baby, touching her and kissing (!) her head, reaching back behind their chair to pat her when she's fussing (even though i am clearly in the middle of burping her), suggesting that perhaps the reason that she's fussing is that she's wet (no, actually, it's because i stopped her foodfest in order to prevent catastrophic gassiness), and telling me that her head is red and, upon hearing that she had a headband on earlier, telling me to be careful.

if you're a mom, i just want you to pause for a moment and imagine how you might feel when encountered by this situation. if you're not, i want you to ask yourself if you would ever have the audacity to do these things (the last three all happened in fairly quick succession, by the way). 

did i say anything? did i kindly suggest that she mind her own dang business, that our baby is fine and healthy and that we really didn't need any suggestions from the proverbial peanut gallery?

no. i didn't. i stewed in my own juices a little bit until the end of church, when my husband and i were in the car.  then, i said that if this particular person said one more thing to me i was going to LOSE MY MIND. 

but this whole situation has gotten me thinking about what we do as women. i feel like there are many times when i swallow what i really want to say in favor of either saying nothing or saying the socially appropriate thing.  i think there's definite merit in that--please don't get me wrong--but i wonder if there are times when i should be saying more than i'm saying.

when did we learn that we weren't allowed to stand up for ourselves in every circumstance? or, perhaps the better question: when is it appropriate to speak your mind and when is it more appropriate to keep quiet?

has anyone else had an experience like this? how did you decide?

1 comment:

  1. I think it comes down to this idea of being a lady and not speaking your mind. However, I do not subscribe to this idea. My temper has gotten my into a lot of trouble (apparently, some people are scared of me). I like to blame it on the Cuban blood :)