By Dominique Matti – I get it. I used to be you. Sometimes I still am. Conflating kindness with being a doormat, being carried by the current of the will of others. But today I want to tell you that what you’ve been told is “nice” is really just eating shit with a smile. Let’s talk about what many really mean when they talk about the “nice girl.”
1. A nice girl always smiles at you. Even if she doesn’t know you. Even if she’s having the day from hell. Even if you’re being a creep and have been burning holes through her clothes with your eyes. Even if you’re threatening her. A nice girl doesn’t dare outwardly express negativity.
2. A nice girl never openly disagrees. Even if your opinion is the dimmest vitriol she’s ever heard. Even if you’re being insulting. Even if you’re dead wrong. A nice girl never corrects you, either. No matter how many times you misquote, mispronounce, or misinterpret something she knows better than you.
3. A nice girl never speaks directly. She never says “John, pass me the butter.” She beseeches “If it’s not too much trouble, do you think you could maybe pass me the butter?” With the disclaimer, “No sweat if you can’t.” She buries her needs under layers of language to create the illusion that she’s like one of those rare plants that doesn’t need water or sunlight. Nice girls don’t have needs, and they never impose.
4. Nice girls must be liked by everyone, even at the expense of disliking themselves. Make a sexist joke? The nice girl laughs along. Oppose the nice girl’s world view? What world view? She feels how you feel! Or better yet, she doesn’t feel anything at all (lest she be “crazy”)!
5. A nice girl doesn’t set boundaries. She doesn’t say no. She doesn’t want to upset you by not giving you your way. She accommodates even the most absurd of requests at the cost of her own comfort. A nice girl has existing in discomfort down to a science.
The nice girl wasn’t created in a vacuum. The nice girl is a walking coping mechanism. From childhood most women are inundated by the media and their community with the notion that they exist to nurture everyone but themselves, that they must serve as stagnant characters propelling the narrative of the lives of others. Saying no, taking what you need, opposing the will of those around them is adverse to the role society assigns them. Women who step out of that character are called crazy, needy, bitchy, controlling, angry, irrational, too emotional, bitter, and more. It’s hard to function under those labels. It’s hard to believe you’re not those things when too many people tell you are. The gaslighting is strong in this world. So I’m taking the opportunity to tell you otherwise, even if I’m just one voice.
It’s not rude to say no. It’s not needy to have needs. Being direct is not being a bitch. If you’re angry, odds are it’s for a reason. Possessing emotions is not equivalent to having a deficit in logic. You don’t have to smile all the time. Bitterness is a symptom of invalidated feelings. Your feelings are valid. And so are you.
About the contributor
Dominique Matti is a blogger, freelance writer and editor based in Philadelphia, PA. She focuses primarily on social justice, parenting, and personal improvement. Her work has been featured in the The Independent, Huffington Post, Absurdist, and Those People. You can follow Dominique on Twitter.