Mean Girls: Nice Women Don’t Finish Last

I’m a nice person. It’s true. I’m not being arrogant when I say that; in fact, I think it’s fair to say that many people view kindness as a weakness.

Maybe I am too nice. I mean, I sometimes struggle to be honest with people because I’m afraid that they will construe my honesty for harshness. I do feel that I sometimes let people take advantage of me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a complete push-over. I just loathe confrontation.

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If I have an opinion, I will state it. Similarly, if I feel someone is being unfairly treated, I will speak up. But it stresses me out beyond belief. I don’t particularly feel very enamoured with this aspect of my personality, but I would much prefer to be too nice than too mean.

I find it very difficult to deal with aggressive and domineering people. You know the type I’m talking about; the people who convince you that being aggressive “assertive” means passing critical comments or disagreeing with you over the most trivial of things. Or they’ll sometimes feel the need to offer you “advice” when it’s really just destructive criticism which serves to damage your self-esteem. I mean, haven’t some people heard of talking about you behind your back?

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I once had someone aggressive like that in my life. Not by choice, I would like to add, I’m not crazy. She was related to one of my best friends and was a self-titled “bitch.” She constantly referred to herself as such. I’m all for assertiveness and confidence, but she was poison.

She would constantly comment on my appearance: “Oh, Jane. You’re going with that?
“What did you do with your hair? It really doesn’t suit you.” She would also start random and unexpected arguments with myself and my friends. I don’t know how many times I had to explain her behaviour to people.

After a few years (yes years, I suppose I’m a glutton for punishment) of putting up with her, I approached her cousin and the friend who had introduced us. I had had enough. It was my birthday, and we were having a party. I’m no diva, but I suspected that I would be spending the night apologising to people for her behaviour and that wasn’t exactly how I wanted to remember my twenty first birthday.

When I brought up my concerns to my friend, she brushed me off with the usual excuse: “Oh, that’s just the way she is. She’s just a bitch.”

This time, I refused to accept that as an excuse for her behaviour. It’s not even an excuse really, is it?

So I took a deep breath and said:

Listen, Katie. I love you but I’m just not going to accept that flimsy excuse anymore. It’s rubbish to be honest. I have never done anything to deserve her completely unacceptable behaviour. I refuse to believe that this is “just the way she is.” The girl makes a constant and conscious effort to be a bitch, it is not inherent in her personality. It would be really simple for her to be nice every now and again, but she just refuses to demonstrate even basic kindness. I might not be as confident as she is, but I can hold my head up high and say that I have never set out to deliberately denigrate anyone in order to make myself feel better. I’m just not going to put up with her behaviour anymore.

(It may not have actually been as articulately worded as that at the time but it went something like that.)

Katie reluctantly agreed with me and said that she would have a word with her cousin before the party. Of course, it didn’t work and meany mcBitchface (I’ll try better at the ole nicknames next time) was worse than ever. She refused to go to the pub we were going to because it was “crap”, she hated my dress and she called one of my friends that she had never met a “retard.” Yes, a charming woman indeed.

I haven’t spoken to her in years. I have cut her out of my life entirely. The saddest part of it all is that I heard that she got married recently and none of her “friends” attended. Despite her and Katie being first cousins, they haven’t spoken in nearly two years now. From what I hear, she has alienated most of the people who ever cared about her. She spends most of her time making fun of people and dead celebrities (yes, really) on Facebook. I do feel some pity for her.

The whole point of this post is to point out that being nice might not always be productive but in the long term, neither is being a bitch. For years, that bossy and unpleasant girl had loyal followers who viewed her aggressiveness as something that demonstrated honour and strength. Now, she has become lonely and isolated by her choice to remain aggressive.

Maybe I could stand to be slightly more critical. I probably should send below par food back in a restaurant or admit when I don’t want to go to the cinema to watch an action film. There’s nothing wrong with being assertive when you are not intentionally setting out to offend someone. The problem arises when you confuse bitchiness with confidence. And this happens a lot. We are surrounded with films and TV shows where the message is clear: being a bitch pays off. If you go onto Facebook you’ll see provocative memes like this:

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Now, I’m all for female empowerment and all that. But to me, that is just plain aggressive and promotes bitchiness as some kind of badge of honour. What about this for a meme, eh?

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I always encourage my students to try and be confident and to express themselves in an assertive manner but I also remind them to always be respectful of other people’s feelings. While being a self-styled bitch might garner you some fearful respect in the short term, you will end up facing the consequences of your actions sooner or later.

What about you? Are you too passive? Or could you do with being more diplomatic? Or maybe you’ve struck the right balance between the two? If so, tell me your secret in the comments below!

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41 thoughts on “Mean Girls: Nice Women Don’t Finish Last

  1. deepbluesandseafoamgreens says:

    LOVE THE POST!!
    I have to admit..I’m a bit of a sponge. I just…I don’t like seeing people frown! Ya know what I mean…
    Oh and what was it…meanie mcBitchface? I WAS HOWLING WITH LAUGHTER!!!!!
    HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA

    sorry.
    *straight face*
    🙂

    • janeybgood says:

      Thanks! 🙂 haha, I could do with better nicknames but I’m just too darn nice. Although I did once call her “Janice Battersby” and felt bad haha. Thanks for reading!

      • deepbluesandseafoamgreens says:

        o.O
        If anybody asks, I NEVER LAUGHED. I JUST…SNEEZED ON A…A….PLUM.
        yeah that’ll do.

        I shouldn’t have laughed.
        But the name itself just sounded chuckle-worthy.
        🙂

      • janeybgood says:

        Jack once said that she looked like a bull dog chewing on a wasp haha, he really despised her. I’m just after realising that I wrote a post about how nice I am and here I am calling someone a bulldog haha!

      • deepbluesandseafoamgreens says:

        My brother just think I’m a right nutter sitting here laughing at my “books”….:)

      • deepbluesandseafoamgreens says:

        The problem is, when I try to keep it in, I sound like this strange chimp playing some kind of samba-esque number on the bongos. No joke. It’s insane.

      • deepbluesandseafoamgreens says:

        Time to learn my Latin vocabulary like a good little girl!

        I want some chocolate now. I don’t know but there’s this fascination with teenage girls (maybe boys too?) where all the time, whenever doing stuff, we just have to stop and declare our need for the stuff.
        Why?!

      • deepbluesandseafoamgreens says:

        ALL MY FAVOURITE CHOCOZ YOU HAVE LISTED…..
        *i anticipate a mini virtual giveaway sometime soon*
        COUGH COUGH BLOG BLOG BLOG POST.
        Ooh, I’ve got a slight…tickle!
        🙂
        Have a nice evening, Jane! 🙂
        *sighs…ditches the Latin and heads for the Greek…ah Classics..I love ’em really..*
        🙂

  2. silverliningsproject says:

    I have a problem with people who proudly say that they “tell it like it is”. In other words, they’re rude and don’t consider the other person’s feelings. This is a really good post, but I’m the last person to offer advice on assertiveness 😉

  3. Ashley says:

    It’s something I have struggled with for years. I have written about it some time ago on my blog too. I have always been extremely nice, kind, generous, and understanding. It was kind of my nature, but I decided to play it up an extra amount because I thought that it would win me more respect and friends. It didn’t. In fact, I think people respected me way less when I was over the top nice, because they felt it was fake and used me for my hospitality instead. Then I would turn my back and they would talk shit about me.

    It used to be hard for me to stand up for myself. When I tried, I overdid it and came off as aggressive. I became aware of my extremities and dedicated effort towards striking a balance at being nice, yet assertive – I’ll be your friend, but don’t cross me. So over the past few years, I have gotten a little better at it.

    I could never be like that girl you described. I think you have to be miserable to be that nasty and negative all the time. It’s good that you cut her out of your life. I’m sure you aren’t the only one, and maybe one day she will wake up and realize that she shouldn’t be so shitty.

    • janeybgood says:

      Like you, I’ve tried both ends of the spectrum and I’ve found it so difficult to strike a balance. I have a friend who manages it quite well, and she’s very popular because of it.
      I do know some very kind and nice people who also loath confrontation. Sometimes other people do talk crap about them, but I often think it might be jealousy. Someone kind and nice comes across as well-adjusted and some people envy how happy they assume that person is. But just because you’re nice doesn’t mean you’re always happy, it just means that you’ve decided that it’s a better way to live your life and causes a lot less hassle.
      Thanks for your comment Ashley, it’s good to see that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  4. Thai Village says:

    Love this post. Agree completely. Nice has become a put down for kind, gentle and creative women. lets reclaim the word. We are nice AND strong. Nice and INTELLIGENT. We don’t need to be aggressive or bitchy. Thanks for this insightful post.

    • janeybgood says:

      Thank you for the comment! Yes, I wish the word “nice” didn’t have such negative connotations sometimes.
      People assume the worst when they hear it, as if it’s a weakness but I really would prefer that someone would describe me as “nice” than “bitchy”. We are nice here on wordpress 🙂

  5. Becca Joyce says:

    I hate confrontation too. But sometimes avoiding it can cause more problems. I’ve been thinking about Hamlet a lot lately (Yes I know – literature nerd!) and I really relate to his dilemma. When is it time to fight? And when is it time to try to do the ‘right’ thing, be nice and tolerate the poor behaviour of others. I think, after years of being a bit of a pushover, for me it’s time to fight.

    • janeybgood says:

      Yes, I’m with you there. Sometimes it just has to be done.
      And also, Hamlet is my favourite piece of literature ever. All my friends make fun of me, I reference it all the time. I could talk about it for HOURS 🙂

  6. Karen says:

    Great blog post! I used to be too passive. This has changed. Perhaps I tolerate stuff I do not like for a little while. One day I realised that I was happier without enduring stuff I am not happy with… 🙂

    • janeybgood says:

      That’s a really good point Karen. Being assertive can be quite liberating. Those moments of confrontation are very short compared to the happier time ahead of it. I’m glad that you have realised this, I still have a way to go.

      • Karen says:

        You will get there, Janey! The first step to standing up for your well-being is the hardest. It took me seemingly ages to gain this insight and the courage. 😉

  7. skinnyuz2b says:

    I stink at confrontations. My mind goes totally blank, and just to embarrass me further, my face turns red. Immediately after the confrontation my brain switches back on and thinks of the best responses ever heard by man.

    • janeybgood says:

      Haha, me too. I hate blushing but it always happens, it’s like my brain has to betray me every time.
      Also, I think of the most excellent comebacks, usually about an hour after the argument too. My brain must really hate me.

  8. Julie the Workaholic says:

    I love this…! I think I’d rather be remembered as “that nice girl that could be a bitch at times” than “that hateful bitch that rarely showed her nice streak. Bet she’s burning somewhere…”

    Just sayin’…

    Confrontations suck…And as a supervisor, sometimes I have to “counsel” an employee and my stomach ties up in knots the minute I realize it’s something I have to do.

    • janeybgood says:

      Exactly. I can be mean sometimes, if I’m irritable or tired but it’s rare and it’s never purposeful.
      Eek, I can see that being tough. I have it a little in my job too and it never really gets easier unfortunately. I think we can learn to cope better in these situations but I will never be fully comfortable with any form of concentration.

  9. Wordifull Melanie says:

    I can be too nice…its a shame really. It is horrible but as soon as I started reading your post one face popped in my head. A “friend” who proudly declares hereself a bitch and says what ever evil, spiteful thing she wants about anyone or anything but it is ok because afterwards she says “Is that wrong?” or “Does that make sense?”

    Example:

    Her hair would look better on a little yappy dog, is that wrong?

  10. Lisa says:

    Men prefer nice girls over mean girls because they hate being treated badly. It will destroy their manliness. Nice girls get more good guys than mean girls do. Mean girls get nothing but abusive, hostile, bitchy guys.

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