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I’m a Feminist but My Subconscious is Still Sexist

Read this or forget I said anything. Sorry.

01.23.17
Ways-I've-Already-Undermined-Myself-as-a-Woman-in-2017-Man-Repeller

Last week, my sister and I were waiting for a movie to start when a raised voice halted our conversation. “Can you guys alllllll move down two seats?” A woman was shouting across the row ahead of us. Her face was stoic, her finger was pointing. “There is an open seat therand an open seat over there, and the two of us would like to sit next to each other right here. Thanks so much.” She was talking at an appropriate volume actually — not shouting — and still, the moment felt outright scandalous. I looked at my sister and a flash of horror passed between us. The gall of this woman!

At her urging and to my surprise, nearly 20 people gathered their things and shuffled one space to the right, mumbling under their breath. Of course, one space was not what she’d asked, so she stage-directed accordingly and another shuffle ensued. “Oh don’t worry,” she said coyly to her date, “I’m not shy.” They settled into their newly vacant seats, his face struck dumb and her’s showing no sign of giving a shit.

It only took another second for our horror to transform into something else: unfettered deference. This woman was incredible. Fuck single vacant spots between groups that make it harder for everyone to find a pair of seats. Fuck every time I’ve been in the same position as her and swallowed my irritation for the sake of preserving…what? My likability? Everyone’s time? The only energy truly expelled at her behest was by those of us who equated her reasonable confrontation with the incendiary goading of a drunken brawl.

The emotional arc of my reaction felt familiar. One of the more challenging parts of being a woman for me has been the sometimes appalling way my beliefs juxtapose against the way I’ve been conditioned to think and behave. I’m nearly a decade into this feminist gig and I still subvert myself and my gender constantly. That initial flash of horror is a perfect example. I have no doubt it was one of several shitty things my brain knee-jerked into thinking that day. I’m like the failed feminist Alice in Wonderland: undermining myself as many as six times before breakfast.

I can scarcely tell a story without cutting myself off for fear that I’m boring or that talking too much is a particularly annoying trait when embodied by a woman. I’ll prioritize a man’s feeling over my own. I’ll be snarky and judgmental towards others and myself. I’ll refuse thanks I deserve. I’ll apologize for being sad. I’ll apologize when someone runs into me. I’ll apologize for almost anything. A few weeks ago I put off asking two — not 20 — dudes in my airplane row to let me out to the bathroom, despite my bladder being in physical pain for an hour.

How can I be as aware of gendered injustice as I am and still so often lose to my own instincts? How can I stay confident in my convictions when so many of them still spring from conditioning despite my best efforts? I think the answer is that empowerment isn’t in the perfect harmony of belief and action, but rather the glacial and messy osmosis of the two. Learning, in some sense, means admitting we were once wrong, so perhaps we can find solace in the sometimes contradictive process of becoming the women we want to be.

Or, I don’t know, just a thought! Please disregard if I’m wrong.

Illustration by Maria Jia Ling Pitt; follow her on Instagram @heysuperstar.

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  • Anne Dyer

    This is a super interesting dialogue. I often find myself telling a raunchy story amidst men and women and then ten seconds later find my same self apologizing for double dipping a carrot.

    • Molly D

      hahahah

    • Haley Nahman

      Lol Anne

  • dietcokehead

    I realized last year that the one “life lesson” I seem to have internalized most deeply (although, both unfortunately and thankfully, I constantly fail to stay true to it) is that I should just usually not speak! Why do I even open my mouth? Or, to channel Mike Birbiglia, “What I should have said was NOTHING.” Anyway the realization of this deeply held belief kind of lit a feminist fire under my ass and I’ve been pretty raw ever since. It’s cool, I’m starting therapy this week. SORRY WAS THAT WEIRD TO SAY

    • Gabrielle

      Not weird! Glad to hear about your feminist fire. I identify a lot w this article as well as with your sentiments. Was supposed to start therapy last week (“for real this time!!”), still haven’t actually got my shit together enough to organize it. Meanwhile I apologise all the fcking time for no good reason! I apologise for talking too much! And I’m an introvert ffs! So fucked up. Need to unlearn a lot of bad stuff 🙁
      Good luck with your journey !

    • Jessyca Taef

      Oooh girl, THIS. Let me just say : you are not alone. I’ve found myself constantly resorting to the mantra ‘Say more; Talk less’ – meaning put more emphasis & power into less words. (PS nothing is too weird to say)

  • TiRani

    So, this thing happened the other day. I was out for dinner with my husband, a friend (man) and this friend’s friend (man). It was the day before the inauguration, and my friend said that he had thought that Trump was a better candidate than Hillary because he says it like it is. He also said that his choice could be chalked up to misogyny, because he thought Hillary wasn’t a straight forward person, hence his dislike for her. I was offended, and rattled off a whole spiel about Trump, the affect of his policies on women, healthcare, education etc. etc.. People at the table thought I was overreacting. My husband pitched in to articulate my rant initially, and then he just let me be, because he knew I needed to vent.
    So after this overreaction (in my head), I was left feeling guilty for days. I felt guilty for having voiced my opinion – albeit with spoons-full of emotion (for the record: no yelling) for days together. Somewhere, I am sure they judged me too — ah, this woman is being such a woman. I am still feeling guilty about it. But what has happened affects me deeply as a woman. And it’s puzzling how my subconscious mind judges me so harshly. I should allow myself to voice my opinion (with emotion), without judging myself when an issue touches a chord – no?

    • dietcokehead

      It’s funny how the stereotype says men don’t want to show emotion, but the reality is they do all the time — they just pass it off as being something more clinical. While we’re over here frantically trying to suppress ours.

      • kay

        soooo true!! men all day long will make a sort of managerial expression of irritation with a lack of efficiency, or like they are just looking out for the well being of the system whatever that might be at the moment, but it’s really that they’re being emotional!!! once i realized this it’s like my whole vision shifted.

      • meme

        This is so true. We have accepted their reactions as standard.

      • RZ

        Every time I watch a sports event on TV, I’m stunned by how “overly emotional” some of the men are. The guys watching the game, the players, the coaches. They often look like they are throwing tantrums because of a GAME. Yet it’s accepted and even encouraged.

        Our rights and the rights of women globally (see global gag rule) are literally being taken away because of this results of this election. That is something that we should be emotional about and we have every right to express that.

    • Molly D

      Trump was the most emotional candidate of all of them. And people who voted for Trump because he “tells it like it is” voted for emotion. He won because of emotion and on Saturday we fought back with ours.

      TiRani & gal pals – let’s keep telling it like is!!!

  • CarolLucy

    You nailed it. So much to learn.

  • Bonnie Clyde

    Pay no mind to your gender….Everything is right with a human being asking others to move slightly to create efficient use of the seating at the theatre. All human beings should make this request with kindness and respect. No human being should feel more empowered by making this request in a brash, bold manner and no human being should feel meek by making this request with kindness and respect.

  • Ash

    My brain feels like a battleground most days. I always go with the judgy, bitter reaction first instead of empathy or understanding, then have to correct myself for being an ass. Trying to claim to be a feminist and still having this mindset is rough…but I keep reminding myself that it’s a long work in progress.

  • Jennifer

    Thank you so much for starting a conversation on this! I think so many of us women feel so guilty over this. And the women who don’t believe they’ve experienced sexism, this is why. They’ve internalized it to such a degree they can’t see through it. But it is really such a funny, guilt inducing, self-loathing thing for those of us that do. It’s hard not to feel defeatist when you are sexist against yourself so often. I think it helps the more women talk about it, so we know we aren’t alone, we know it isn’t a personal failure, it’s a societally conditioned one.

  • Lindsay D

    I feel you, I also need to morph my beliefs and behavior. I have been trying not to use the word “sorry” in my e-mails. I have backspaced countless times. I am not SORRY for asking you to do your job. I don’t know I just felt bossy, and annoying. ugh

    • Haley Nahman

      YES YES

    • Sugar Bones

      I really like “thank you” as an exit plan for constantly apologizing- thank you for your flexibility, thank you for your immediate attention to this matter, thank you for waiting. For a one-time lifer in apology prison, I think this is my parole zone.

    • chunny

      I’ve been on the same train of thought, but with “just.” Just a quick question, I just wanted to make sure… I’m just trying not to undermine my thoughts anymore 🙂

  • This is the struggle of my life! I try to check myself whenever possible but I find myself almost never speaking up (holding one’s pee on a plane is me to a T) or expressing any opinion that might be contradictory to anyone around me. Does it come from a place of not wanting to make anyone upset or uncomfortable, drawing attention, avoiding confrontation, etc?

    • Haley Nahman

      Oh yes totally. And probably because people will start to call you a killjoy……speaking from first hand experience. But it’s worth it and I think there are ways to do it so you solicit thought instead of eye rolls. Hmm maybe this is a story.

      • Rosie

        Love this story idea, Haley. I’ve been trying to practice being more assertive in my everyday life (trying to unlearn unnecessary apologizing and unlearn using passive/apologetic verbiage in work emails [and also in relationships], etc). It’s hard, because it feels like it’s totally wired in my brain, and so many women’s brains. But I ain’t sorry — so I need to stop saying it! Maybe if we all put in the effort, it will make for more unapologetic women in the future?? Right? RIGHT? Plz write this story!!

  • _lauristia

    Since I remember people have allways called me bossy, arrogant, annoying, manly and a lot of other stupid words someone can say just because I stay trust to me.

    Yesterday my mom asked me to get a razor and *clean my legs* while I was in the pool, because and quote: “it’s gross and no one with your education level should go around looking like that”

    For God’s Sake!

    Oviously Ididn’t cover myself or razor my legs, armpits, mustache or my crotch, she gave me birth, my sisters already know me, I love me with all my pounds, every inch of my height and nobody should feel free to tell me I should be embarrased by my natural body appareance.

    • Haley Nahman

      Love this

      • _lauristia

        Thanks to you Haley for making me feel less stupid in this sexist world.

    • Aydan

      “Icy” I got on a work review once…told that story to a friend the other day and she just laughed because she couldn’t believe how wrong that manager was.

      • _lauristia

        I know right! free the nipple! free the body hair! free to our opinions based in our equality!

  • Alessia

    wow haley, it seems like you’ve been reading my mind with your stories lately! thank you!!

  • Charlotte

    “I can scarcely tell a story without cutting myself off for fear that I’m boring or that talking too much is a particularly annoying trait when embodied by a woman.” I love ManRepeller for being able to put into words what I was trying, but couldn’t as clear and eloquent as you women do. Thank you Haley!

  • Jayde

    So, since the election I’ve become extremely aware of how my friends/people around me speak about women in general. I’ve been so disappointed to realize that most of my female friends (some of my best friends, even!) will jump at the opportunity to say something nasty about another female. Even when they are the most PC, educated, and generally self-aware peeps.

    For example, if my friend was dating a guy that she found out was seeing another girl, the conversation will almost always focus on everything wrong with the other girl and not the actual dude being sketchy.

    Now, whenever I hear something like “ugh I know those types of girls” or “she’s so shallow/dumb/etc” or “she just wants attention” I will almost always challenge the person by asking “do you think if it was a guy you would be saying these things?”. That will usually get the point across and open a good dialog of self-awareness.

    I also didn’t realize how guilty I was of this myself. It’s so easy to be a feminist on social media, but in the privacy of your home, or in the conversations you have with your closest friends, be totally sexist. I’ve been telling myself that it’s not just about saying the right words, it’s about your actions… Especially when no one is looking.

    • Haley Nahman

      Such great examples! Totally feel you.

  • A word or two from the other side: should you become rather outspoken and unashamed to ask for normal things, you will also need a … mental equipment to brush off (without a further thought) the backlash you might get from time to time for acting according to your human rights …
    It’s the same thing as with the famous Impostor Syndrome, really: It’s not just the problem that many a woman should think herself worth less and feel afraid she’ll get caught every minute now – she may actually encounter people who want to think about her this same thing/expect her to think like that because it empowers them in a nasty way.

  • Molly D

    “Learning, in some sense, means admitting we were once wrong, so perhaps we can find solace in the sometimes contradictive process of becoming the women we want to be.” Haley for POTUS, FLOTUS, MROTUS

    • Haley Nahman

      Lol’d @ MROTUS, so ty

  • Lindsey

    Damn. Hit the nail on the head, Haley. I’ve only recently come to the conclusion that I will say “thank you” when someone compliments me, and that I won’t say “sorry” if someone else bumps into me. But I somehow never came to the realization that all the other times, I was actually subverting my own feminism. (Hi, airplane bathroom situation.) Definitely just passed this one on to my girlfriends.
    (Actually, I noticed SO many women apologizing for no reason at the Women’s March on Saturday. I totally stepped on someone else’s foot and *she* apologized to me! WHAT?!)

    • Haley Nahman

      OMG I 100% noticed that! THERE WAS SO MUCH APOLOGIZING AT THE WOMEN’S MARCH!

  • Antoinette

    The great thing is that you are aware, and it starts with self-awareness, then ripples out into the world. Unlearning anything is difficult, and gender biases and injustices are especially difficult because they have been ingrained in us since birth. We have been taught not to take up too much space and to live within constraints of all sorts. Once you become aware of how conditioned you are, you cannot “uncondition” yourself to the previous conditions you were subjected to. By writing this article you have started to move beyond those parameters by which you were bound.

  • Leandra Medine

    My response to stories like this (or comments that I receive from friends/inquirers alike) has always been: just give up saying sorry! Try it for a week and see how it feels. See if you even notice anything changing, but even that perspective has changed. Because forcing yourself to do something that doesn’t feel natural or right in and of itself can be regarded as a way that you (I) undermine yourself (myself). For me now, it’s all about being more forgiving with my natural tendencies. I noticed just below me Antoinette mentioned that a truly great thing — your self-awareness. Sometimes just resting into the self-awareness is okay too. We’re in constant pursuit of an action point and that can get exhausting. And we’re also now living in the era of “undoing, not doing” but guess what? UNDOING IS DOING TOO. It is not the same as not doing. SO, because I’m right there with you and because 9/10 times, I feel the same way re: apologizing for myself for the simple reason that I exist in a world that may or may not have been architected to support a gender that is not my own, I’d rather not fight right now. Instead I just want to acknowledge that I see it and I feel it and I don’t like it and rest with that for a minute, let it pass through me or whatever, because my hunch is that in doing that, the natural and “effortless” next step will be to, you know, stop apologizing.

    • dellapina

      I never apologize, unless I actually f*ed up. And I tell other women at work the same thing. Why would I say I’m sorry for speaking up in a meeting? Why would I apologize for throwing out an idea that others don’t like? At least I said it. Why would I apologize for sneezing?!

    • AbigailatSea

      I make a point of not saying sorry…except that I still find myself saying it sometimes out of lifelong habit, even though I don’t mean it and I’m not actually sorry! So now I say “Sorry……no, wait, I’m not.”, which makes me sound insane, but I don’t care. My point is that I’m working towards not saying it when I don’t mean it!! Not sorry. Not sorry at all.

      • alchemy

        This made me laugh out loud. Love it!

    • fleetwoodwhack

      I can be a compulsive over-apologizer, and I have been trying to reframe my apologies as “thank yous”. Rather than “Sorry for screwing that up,” saying “Thanks for catching that” etc…. This helps me when I can’t totally limit my silly, patriarchal brainwashing! #justgirlythings And when in doubt, I remember my mothers one and only true piece of advice: “Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke”. Applies almost universally.

    • alchemy

      On the point of forcing yourself to do something that initially doesn’t feel right in and of itself: after understanding the origin of why people say “Bless you!” when they hear someone sneeze (a perfectly normal bodily function, not unlike a cough, and no one gets blessed for that!?), I was able to de-condition myself of that lifelong knee-jerk habit…despite the first few times that the silence seeming deafening. You absolutely CAN make yourself stop saying “sorry” at inappropriate times.

  • Katy Yu

    I was out with 3 of my girlfriends and one of the girls brought up how much she loves working for a male boss over a female boss and that they are “so much better” because women are too emotional, too sassy, and not direct like men. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this comment and the other 2 girls quickly sided with what her opinion, adding comments that were demeaning to us all. Didn’t they realize? It was so obvious that these are the types of conversations that keep us women out of power and in a place of inequality. I expressed my disappointment in what they were saying and that their prejudice is what would inevitably bring us to face these issues when WE are in a place to become bosses, managers, CEOs, etc. They were discriminating themselves. Ladies, please do not hold back in helping to heal the bashing of our fellow women. We need to speak up even if it puts you in a strange position with your friends. We need to guide each other into a better place together.

    • Sugar Bones

      YES!

    • Trilby16

      I’ve worked in law firms and always preferred working for men because when women give you a task they know EXACTLY how they want it to turn out and micromanage you, but a man is always just happy he didn’t have to do the task himself.

  • Grace Kenney

    I relate to this so unbelievably much you rock Haley!!!

  • Meghan Johnson

    “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”-Sheryl Sandberg in Lean In. I ask myself this every time I doubt my ability to do something that women don’t usually do, but should (like asking for a raise). It really works, and I got my raise:)

  • Liz

    I am kind, generous, caring and hardworking. And if you think that makes me a b!%#$ thats your problem – mantra I repeat to myself several times a day while managing a team of guys.

  • HollyO

    You are not alone. I, too, suffer from FOBLAB. (fear of being labeled a bitch).

    • Haley Nahman

      I have now lol’d at this comment 3 separate times

    • Yes I love the FOBLAB

    • alchemy

      I think my behavior is generally very considerate of others. So I’ve suffered hardly from FOBLAB…though it is a blip on my radar. RBF must help, in that if everyone assumes I’m a bitch just by looking at me, I’ve already been labeled, so…no fear! 😀

  • tulip salinger

    I have a lot of respect for you, I would have never guessed, I too do some of those things, but I am working on it, my brain washing started years ago, I am older than you and women have come a long way since when I was growing up, thank goodness, this article is good, I enjoyed it and relate! I am going to stop feeling guilty for voicing opinions or standing up for a woman’s rights, or for standing up for myself, that has always been difficult for me, but I am determined to get over it!

  • Imaiya Ravichandran

    sometimes i feel like my whole “feminist identity” is this facade I concocted in my head. that in reality, i exist as the meek, mild-mannered woman that society has always conditioned me to be. exhibit a: my friend turned 23 last weekend, so we went out for her birthday. a guy started creepily hitting on her, prompting my feminist spidey sense to kick in. “sorry, but she’s NOT interested,” i said loudly. i felt very proud. but instead of slinking away to some corner in misogynist shame (like i thought he would), the guy launched into a passionate speech– presumably to justify his actions though i can’t be sure because the music was so loud and i didn’t wanna get too close cause he smelled like cheese. his speech literally lasted for 10 minutes… and i stood there and listened to the entire fucking thing. i couldn’t even hear what he was saying, but i stood there anyway, nodding like some amenable marionette. my friends eventually saved me but that moment stayed with me for the rest of the night. even now, i’m not sure what made me accept his cheeto breath without so much as a peep. ugh. its just so sad (embarrassing even?) that i can espouse all this feminist rhetoric in my day to day life, but when it comes down to it, i still hesitate to hurt a man’s feelings, even when he has no problem hurting mine.

    • Haley Nahman

      Damn, so feel this Imaiya!!

  • Ashley

    feel like this may just be a confidence issue?

  • Sushi73

    Read Egalia’s Daughters to stop doubting yourself and take back your sanity – about a topsy-turvy world where women are “wom” and “menwim” light the home fires.

  • Carrie Asby

    this and the great comments are just as good as a great yoga class. thank you and namaste.

  • Joyce

    While I completely agree with what you say above, I also can’t help but think that maybe, alternatively, the apologetic tendency, the OMG I can’t believe you said that in public horror, the am I talking too much/am I annoying you feelings might stem from the all too common fear-based anxiety as a human and maybe not due to gender difference?

  • freudianslippers

    I love this and I love you for writing it. That is all.

  • BK

    I’ve finally stopped trying to adjust my behaviour to please men. There are still universal rules I follow, of course: I shake hands with everyone I haven’t met before, always use good manners, chew with my mouth closed, etc. But all those little niggles that used to bounce around in my head re appearing feminine or dainty or enough, or not too opinionated – I brush them aside. and you know, the people who really react to it aren’t even men – they’re other women! An acquaintance of mine took me aside recently and said that I should reconsider being so “honest” and stop correcting her boyfriend at dinner when he was wrong about something – I think I’d interrupted him once because he had misinterpreted the basic funding model for doctors working in public hospitals in Australia. Scandal! He was completely unoffended by the event, and we kept on talking, but she was so rattled by the idea of a guy being wrong that she felt she had to make a considerable and awkward effort to protect him from it by privately speaking to me. In line with my discomfiting honestly, I told her no, I wouldn’t stop correcting people if they were wrong, as I would expect people to do the same for me, and that I wasn’t sorry. And you know what she said? “It’s easier for you to be like that because you’re single.” How sad is that?! I wonder how much more of her behaviour she adjusts in an attempt to please her boyfriend.

  • Kelli

    I recommend doing some introspection into whether this is really related to sexism. Many people experience a little social anxiety once in a while. Attributing every imperfection we have to our gender, or society’s treatment of our gender, is not doing feminism any favors. You may very well be right, but it is worth thinking about. Developing effective social skills is good no matter what, so it can’t hurt.

  • “…glacial and messy osmosis…” Bravo, sister! And …”sometimes contradictive process…” Here, here! Deeper than an MR ‘Brain Massage’, you give voice to the difficulty of a Consciousness Kick In the A–. You are personally engaging and publicly articulating the true, and thereby, hardest work: insular enlightenment. Further, holistically, as an intersectionalist advocate, I look forward to the brave article title, “I’m an Ally but My Subconscious Is Still Racist.”

  • Kathie Rejc

    I absolutely love the article. Especially for bringing this up. I do it too as everyone else here. I apologize for things I didn’t do and things that I just can’t change. And i sure want to change it because I am degrading myself by doing so and THAT is intolerable. But I just want to change the way I think about myself sometimes when I do that.
    And while this is an issue I don’t consider myself shy or not outspoken. I will tell anybody how I feel about things without a fu&$* care in the world. If they don’t want to hear it they can GO. I strongly believe in my values and opinions and I am very unapologetic when it comes to that.
    But here is the thing that I haven’t found anywhere on here (maybe I just didn’t read the thread long enough)
    Women are obviously more empathic. We care more about what other people thing/feel/do. Men are JUST as emotional as women. They are just not as empathic or generally they are not supposed to be because I know a lot of wonderful men that are very sweet. But I don’t want to change that. I DO NOT want to have to “get rid of” my empathy because it makes me “weak”. I freaking want to apologize to people even though I didn’t do anything wrong, without any guilt. I strongly believe that this trade makes us special. It is our superpower. And it does not hold us back. It is the thoughts that come with that apology that make us insecure. The apology itself does not make us weak. I can be apologetic and STILL be a better employee as a man. I can be apologetic and STILL be a better politician as a man. I can do whatever the hell I want. Our society is so focused on being tough and hard and reckless. We can be strong AND empathic. Being strong doesn’t mean that we are careless. We can care for other people and still do a great job (in life and career wise).

    Apologizing for being apologetic and worrying about what other people think is NOT OK.
    WE ARE NOT FUCKED UP. THE SYSTEM IS.
    Who says you can’t be emotional and empathic and a great leader. Who says those traits are bad if they aren’t self-harming. Who says we have to be tough. Who makes those traits more valuable than empathy and emotional intellect.
    We live in a world that was not created by our standards and this makes it so exhausting. We always have to question everything. Alsways look for the pattern behind everything. It is hard and most of the time it is impossible to even go deep enough.
    This is my very personal opinion at this moment and it sure isn’t ripe yet. It’s kind of a draft. Maybe I got something wrong. Maybe someone will throw in another point and my opinion will change completely. Maybe no one will read this super long rant. But I would love someone else’s opinion on these thoughts.

  • DutchS

    I want to know what idiot architecture school trains people to create unbroken rows of seats 30-40 long instead of breaking them up every 5 seats or so with a narrow aisle.

  • Trilby16

    I always get to the movies early and try to get a seat with no one next to me (besides my sweetie), so I do get crabby when asked to move over, no matter who asks. If you’re two people who want to sit together, get there early, or sit way down front or way back.

    • pennyjenny

      SAME! I don’t care who asks me, male or female. Unless it’s a sold-out show and I’m being asked by someone who works there. That’s kind of why I only go to movie theaters where I can pick my seat in advance… No dealing with this situation.

  • Alex Clack

    The things you say you do but shouldn’t do (apologizing too much, worrying that you’re talking too much, etc.) are things that plenty of men do too. It’s not a man/woman thing, it’s just your personality. Putting others before yourself is the ultimate good. Don’t change just because you think or others tell you that doing so is too feminine.

  • conor_ob

    Yes, if only you were aggressive and rude life would be so wonderful. Next time you see a merge line to exit? Just drive to the front! It’s your due, after all, for all the oppression you suffer as a woman in the United States.

    The reality is, none of the behavior you describe is inherently masculine or feminine. I’ve often suffered in silence in the window seat because I didn’t want to bother my row mates. That’s my choice, no one conditioned me to make it, and if things got bad enough I would ask. But I generally prefer not to. And lots of women I’ve sat next to have asked me to get up. f you’re looking to see sexism under every unconscious rock, though, I guess you will.

  • Lina Aquino

    A friend of mine (guy) told me once that when you say “sorry” all the time people tend to see you as a sorry person. If you truly think you did something bad, say “my apologies”, but other than that, always stand your ground. I feel like men do that all the time without fear of retaliation, and what makes it work is the confidence in which they say things. I like to do that myself and I have never had any problems while doing it. It’s just like pulling off an amazing outfit: all about the confidence and never apologizing for being fabulous.

  • Chloe

    Well said.
    This really hits the nail on the head.

  • A Casual Observer

    I think the problem with this article is that I can 100% relate to it… and I’m a guy. It makes me question whether this specific experience is as gendered as the author asserts– I think a lot of people, not just women, have trouble feeling comfortable putting their own needs first.