“You could be nice about this,” his friend sneered. “Accidents happen, you know?” I had just accused him of breaking my phone and I was outnumbered. One young woman to a group of young men.
I am here to talk about the fact that as a woman, I am expected to “be nice” when “accidents happen” when it is socially acceptable for a man to aggressively interrogate in order to defend his property or honor.
You are sighing. Great. Another feminazi who hates men because of the glass ceiling or whatever. It’s just a broken phone. Get over it. That’s fine. Stop reading. I don’t expect to change your mind.
I am not here to talk about a phone. Certain misogynistic and sexist methods are so deeply engrained in our society that as a woman, I often fail to recognize it. Sometimes, I even mentally judge the women who do as high-strung.
No particular sex is at blame, for reasons being that even as children, girls are given dolls to play with and toy kitchen sets to imitate demure, inward lives that they are likely to live. Boys are given soccer balls and are taught to be assertive and let’s face it — even today, assertive women are stigmatized as unattractive.
COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg admits that for men, successful and likability are positively correlated, where as it is negatively correlated for women. In other words, the more successful a man, the more well-liked he is. On the other hand, the more successful a woman is, the less liked she is. For women, success and likeability happens to be a trade off. In fact, it is so unattractive to be ambitious that Oprah Winfrey, in all her success, told Fortune Magazine that she “[doesn’t] think of [herself] as a businesswoman.”
If being assertive is so unattractive and not expected of women, even to women themselves, where are we and how do we start? If this notion of assertiveness being not womanly is so pervasive that it intimidates and keeps women from succeeding, what is the proper action?
And this is why I will not entertain this narrative of “it’s just a phone.” By being told that “it’s not a big deal,” I am being victimized and portrayed as “unnecessarily aggressive” or high-strung when I am already the victim. This is why this is a big deal, because every time I tell myself that I am making mountains out of mole-hills, I am reaffirming the fact that silence is the rhetorical function dedicated to oppressed groups to ensure their continued silence. But it’s just a phone. Yes, and all Rosa Parks wanted was to sit. I want my right to be assertive without being portrayed as a lunatic.
Follow Justina Huang on Twitter: @huanderwoman