• Flux Magazine

"A Woman's Script to Voicing Her Truth" by Becca DeMent

Women have been conditioned to care more about a man’s feelings than their own truth and

comfort. You deserve to speak your truth and take up space, and men need to know the reality of their actions if we are to increase women’s equality and reduce toxic masculinity.

(although this article is intended for the use of women against unwanted romantic/sexual advances of men, it is not meant to neglect other demographics

that experience unwanted advances)

“You’re so pretty. What’s your name?”

“... Becca”, *​uncomfortably​*

or , “Ashley”, ​a lie

Or, “I have a boyfriend”, ​I ​belong​ to someone else

At some point or another most women have experienced a man coming onto them, ​unwanted,​ and have asked their name. Let me first define the situation to be clear. The woman, or you, is minding her own business alone or with others and is approached by a man. Usually he may offer a compliment, question, or introduction. Then he asks the woman’s, or your name. She or you do not want to give this person her or your name and have no intention of interacting with this individual, which may be for ​any reason​. The man then acts in a range of pushiness or aggression with how he speaks and approaches her or you further.

When this has happened, you were probably caught off guard. When he asks your name you most likely either were too afraid and on the spot to answer with anything other than your real name. This is a problem because it went against your will to tell him your name. Or you lied and said that your name was something other than your name. Or you know he may honor the fact that you’re already ​claimed​ by another man, and I say man because having a girlfriend is generally not respected the same way. What is this phenomenon? Why is it so easy to picture and is avidly experienced? The origin of women’s docility and male aggression is pretty foundational how society raises our children.

As children, there are “boy” toys and “girl” toys. The former tend to include, building materials, trucks, cars, ​weapons​ and “action” figures. The latter include cooking and baking materials, toy ​houses​, toy cleaning supplies, stuffed animals and Barbie dolls. We tell our sons that they should be imaginative and create, and we tell our daughters they should learn how to serve​, ​produce​ and ​take care of​ as soon as they can walk. The American Psychological Association did a report that noted how girls typically have higher expectations of themselves. They tend to be more meticulous and produce higher quality work. Despite finding that child aged girls scored higher in every subject they tested on, the female still had less confidence in their abilities while the boys still had very high confidence. There’s something in our classroom systems that allow for boys to be more willing and confident answering questions in class, while girls do so less. Everyone is a product of their upbringing, and with messages like these being sent to us ​so young​ it's no WONDER why we act the way we do as adults.

Now here we are as adults. Society told me my whole life to be docile, polite, that I had to be strategic in getting what I wanted it because hard work and wanting it wouldn’t ​quite​ be enough. It told me to be considerate towards other people’s feelings, that I should serve others, be a good sociable host, a caretaker and ​agreeable​. Society told the men who hit on me to be assertive, confident(even undeservingly so), adamant, that they’re strong and can’t be weak, don’t be a ​pussy​, that their manly status means everything, to be a “bro” and that the women he would hit on were numbers and prizes. We’re designed a society where there are two agents. One is taught to suck it up and be subservient and self sacrificing, and to give everything up for the other. The other is told to be ​wanting​ and that everything would be provided for him. This is why women are seen as the “complainers” and seeing everything “wrong” with a situation. We’ve designed a system that asks women to be UNHAPPY in order to make men happy. Now let’s go back.

You and your chick friend are walking in the city having a girls night. A man walks up to the two of you to tell you how beautiful you are. Then he asks you what your name is. You have a few options.

You can tell him your name. ​This gives him what he wants at your expense. Society didn’t tell you this but your name is your right and your property. Your name is no one else’s business and you do not owe it to anyone simply because they asked for it. You are not obligated to give things up and when women are forced to tell men their names they are being forced to sacrifice THEIR comfort, YOUR comfort, for his sake.

You can tell him a different name.​ Although this may be comforting to you, this is only a compromise for a specific moment. It does not contribute to the overarching problem of men feeling entitled to your property and comfort. He doesn’t know you’re lying and you deserve to stand up for yourself. You don’t need to protect him.

You can tell him you’re taken.​ This is an inherently unfortunate choice because doing so means you ​know​ that the notion that you ​belong​ to someone else, that you are ​taken​, that someone has already succeeded at what he is attempting to do is what protects you. It goes back to our monkey days when a pregnant female was undesirable because you couldn’t have his offspring.

Tell him the Truth.​ Although there can be multiple versions of this, I have memorized what I believe to be the most appropriate and helpful response for this situation.

“Thank you for the compliment. I’m actually not comfortable telling you my name. Have a good night.”

This does a few things. Men often ask “what I can’t give a girl a compliment? I can’t go and talk to a girl?”. Well of course you can. Compliments are given all the time cross sex and gender for aesthetic and nonaesthetic reasons and can be done in a genuine way. That is why it is fair and polite to thank him for his compliment.

Then there’s the truth. This is your truth. This is the part where you honor your emotional space and right to assert yourself in the world. The ​fact​ is that you are uncomfortable and there is no harm in informing him on this reality. Often times men aren’t aware that they are in fact making a woman uncomfortable and if they were more aware of their effect on women, they would be more likely to consider it and be less abrasive. This part helps add to the solution about undoing the conditioning we’ve endured since childhood.

This article addressed a fairly distinct but apparent situation that women often go through. It is a representation of how the sexes have been gendered and conditioned into certain roles in society that are inherently harmful. This script is simply a tool for women to help increase their autonomy and authenticity. Women, you, deserve the space and consideration to express your Truth and it’s about time we start acting on it.

There will always be times for empowerment so if you or any woman are too uncomfortable or a situation too dangerous to use this approach, please above all things stay safe and do ​whatever you need to do​ to remain safe.

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