How is it that we are so passive, especially as women, that our response to an authority figure is, “Well, if that’s how it is, then I guess I’m OK with it.”? Even when it’s not OK. We fall into apathy and then have regrets. Worse, yet, we are actively upset emotionally and/or physically harmed by the treatment we receive and yet we still say, “Ok, if that’s how it’s got to be…”
Going further, it’s not just an authority figure, but it’s a peer, a coworker, a spouse or significant other, a friend, an acquaintance, we acquiesce.
acquiesce – verb (used without object), acquiesced, acquiescing.
- to assent tacitly; submit or comply silently or without protest; agree; consent
This passivity is so ingrained in us, as women, that our lips remain locked, our throats closed and our eyes bright with tears of lamentation even as we comply.
I see it with my childbirth students and my doula clients.
“Will my doctors allow me to…?”
“I heard the hospital policy is to do… so, I won’t be able to do what I feel is best for myself and my baby.”
To this I say:
“If you cannot advocate for yourself, how will you advocate for your child?”
“Oh, I don’t think I could ask my doctor about that!”
“I don’t want to be argumentative.”
“I don’t want to be a problem patient.”
“What if my questions are off-putting or insulting to my doctor? Won’t they then treat me badly?”
“I don’t want to be disrespectful.”
“If you don’t ask; you don’t get.”
Asking for something doesn’t question your doctor’s authority, it is directly expressing your needs and your preferences.
The worst thing that will happen is that the doctor says, “no” to a patient’s request. That’s the sum total of it. The word “no”. It’s fear that keeps us from stepping forward and asking for what we want. Fear of rejection and fear of perception. We wish to maintain our image of the good girl, so we say bite our tongues and swallow our words.
Being direct doesn’t fit the standard paradigm of how we’ve been taught to behave as women. We are taught to be kind, helpful and obedient. We are told that the pleasure and comfort of others comes before our own. The stereotype of the woman who does everything for her partner and her children, while doing little for herself, is a prime example of our cultural upbringing.
We are taught, from the time we are little, that we need to respect our elders, our parents and teachers. Yet, we are not often taught to respect ourselves. Our needs and desires are held to be of a secondary status to those considered to be of higher import. We are told to mind our business, be quiet and be good girls.
Damn it, I don’t want to be a good girl! (My tattoos and sports-car-red hair might have given that away…) I want to acknowledge my reservations and my fears. Then I want to put those reservations and fears in their place and ask for what I need. Or, even better still, do what I need to do to while maintaining compassion and empathy for others. The key lies in Ahimsa, kindness to self and others. It’s a balance, not unlike all else in our lives.
We don’t need permission from anyone but ourselves to lead our lives. We don’t need the permission of our doctors to labor out of bed, to eat, or to birth on hands and knees instead of on our backs. We don’t need the permission of our husbands/partners to make financial decisions or to go out with friends.
This goes beyond asking to have our needs met and it goes beyond “no means no”. This is a positive affirmation of our inner needs and desires. It is our self-expression to the fullest degree. It means we are fully actualized, badass women who know what we want and can make it happen without fear or reservation. Take that breath and allow your words to come forth so you may begin to be fulfilled. Move out of your boundaries and into badassery.
Dear reader, I want to know what holds you back? What holds your tongue when you know you should speak? What prevents you from expressing your needs and desire in favor of those of others? Tell me in the comments below.
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