Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Being Quiet does not Equal Being Weak

I think that some women are deathly afraid of being perceived as weak. This is probably because something bad happened to them in the past that they were not able to prevent. They blame themselves (sometimes unconsciously) for what happened and think that the incident could have been prevented had they been stronger or even more like a man. They see men being loud, aggressive, and hard and think that this will protect them from further victimization. These women reject anything feminine which is often anything soft, delicate, or fragile. They refuse to behave in ways that are not dominant and see being quiet, non-argumentative, and very polite as signs of weakness that could lead them to be victimized. These women feel that putting on a rough exterior will protect them so it is a defense mechanism but if they need it then they should keep it.

But what about women who have not been victimized? Is there a reason for them to put on a rough exterior? Why do they equate softness, being quiet, and non-argumentative with being weak? I can think of so many times when someone was talking way too much, offending people, and really putting their foot in their mouth...this is not an admirable thing. I think that it is more wise to listen to people and try to understand them because then you are in a position to decide if they would be a compatible friend or partner or if you should ever listen to their advice. People who talk a lot reveal themselves while the quiet ones remain a mystery. When you talk too much you reveal too much about yourself, sometimes too quickly so people may be turned off.  When I first meet people I don't share any strong opinions or show much of a reaction to the opinions they share because I am trying to figure out whether we are compatible. I am gathering information before I form an opinion of them and it's very hard to learn if I am too busy talking.

This post once again was inspired by an article on Clutch called, "Damned If We Do: On Black Women Standing Up For Ourselves". First of all, standing up for yourself is NOT the same as getting into debates with people because it amuses you. If you are familiar with teachings about how to make friends and be liked then you know that people like you more if you listen to them instead of constantly talking, especially about yourself. The quiet person who asks questions and shows interest in others may end up being liked more than the person who constantly debates and challenges others, boasts, or talks too much about herself. That person will appear argumentative, imposing, and self-absorbed to others and may end up being disliked. It's interesting that the author mentions times when BW were criticized harshly for being argumentative or less than cheerful but instead of learning from those lessons she voices the usual "well if men do it then it should be acceptable when women do it" defense. Well men who are argumentative, always trying to change people's opinions, and constantly bragging or talking about themselves are just as annoying! I was reading somewhere thought that men may respond well to and like other men who brag and can beat them in arguments (maybe an alpha- beta-male thing) but they don't like it in women. That's just the way it is.

But that doesn't mean that the men's way is the better way! Is it really beneficial to women to share all of their opinions with others? Have we not learned that this can lead to harsh criticism and negative consequences? Share your most controversial opinions with people who you trust who you already sense may agree with you, or at least accepting of your differences. In many cases if you disagree it is best to not argue especially when that person means nothing to you or has some power over you because you could lose a lot over an unnecessary argument. I would like to know the reasons behind the author's comment, "I  love to pick apart other people’s points, state my case, and vigorously argue my point of view, hopefully winning someone over to my side." Why? Well I guess she doesn't have to justify what she enjoys but what she enjoys may be annoying to others. People like this like to change other people, think they are right about most things, and like to put others in their place by showing them they are wrong. They are not easy people to get along with.  A comment on the post really stood out for me. A commenter stated that she was 99% of the time agreeable, well mannered, and polite but when she argued one rare time she was criticized harshly for it by her husband. Someone else commented, "It just goes to show you being a pushover and a “yes sir, whatever you want sir” type of woman does not gain you respect or admiration." Do you see how being polite and quiet is equated with being a pushover and someone not worthy of respect or admiration? I know these were just two comments but a lot of people think this way.

When I think of wise people, I just can't imagine them arguing about almost anything. They feel secure in their opinions so they don't need to prove they are right to anyone. They don't feel the need to listen to other people's arguments either. If you are secure in your views or if you don't care about what someone else wants to argue about then there is no motivation to get into a debate. I used to like debating a bit too until I noticed how much men hated it and got angry. I didn't think it was worth it because we were debating unimportant things (e.g., whether cats make better pets than dogs, whether air shows should be banned because they are dangerous...seriously) and they became angry at me. I also noticed that when I said controversial things they reacted negatively too and I would have been better off not saying anything. You don't have to say every single thing that comes to your mind or everything that you believe! In today's society we seem to want to be an open book but that is more risky than being quiet, modest, and reserved. So actually, I think that if BW want to protect themselves they should reveal less about themselves and their opinions because there will be less things to attack them for. Voicing opinions about important things should be the goal instead of debating for fun or to feel like a winner (maybe join a debating club for that). This also fits with my new stance on not complaining all the time or venting because they are often useless behaviours that have little benefit.

My point here is to just think about the consequences before you express your opinion and ask yourself if you will actually benefit from sharing. Ask yourself if you will benefit from getting into a debate about the issue. Arguing about important decisions with your partner may be necessary but arguing over politics on your first date is not. There were so many comments on the post basically saying "I was taught to never back down", "I speak my mind and no one will silence me", "Men can speak their minds and are respected so I should be able to do that too" and I think this type of thinking is not in one's best interest (whether someone is female or male). Men have to watch what they say too and can get into fist fights over harmless-seeming debates. Yes women are probably judged more harshly and are rewarded for being more quiet but I think being quiet has it's advantages! Also, if you are in an important discussion with a man and he resorts to calling you names or insulting you then realize that he has just lost the argument because he has nothing relevant to say and has resorted to ad hominem attacks. You have hurt his pride because he lost the argument so he is now trying to hurt you. You probably won't end up getting what you wanted anyway because now he is angry so the argument probably wasn't worth it. Women should be listened to and respected but no one respects argumentative people who try to impose their views on others for no reason. This is just my opinion (lol) because, maybe due to my blogging experiences, I don't enjoy debating my opinions or preferences with anyone and I am turned off by those who try to argue with me.


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  2. Totally agree with you, I have defiantly said things about myself to certain people I wish I hadn't. Nosey people annoy me to the hilt, they want to ask you everything within seconds of meeting you, I've learnt how to deal with this thank goodness.

    I've also learnt not to bother changing peoples opinions on controversial topics,their beliefs are probably going to be as strong as mine, so why would they change theirs if I challenge them, it's a waste of time.

    The only time I speak up is when I see there has been injustice in a situation and even then I measure whether it will be beneficial for me to say anything. If the cost outweighs the benefits there is often no point.

  3. My boyfriend just put our relationship on hold because of this very issue. I will be changing my behavior, its not worth losing my relationship. I would rather be an EBW than an evil BW. Thanks for that post it was right on time.

  4. Your post is quite in line with what I have experienced as well. I am learning the lesson all over again that just because I as a bw and another bw like the same girly things does not mean our values are in line with one another. In fact, when I think about it, there is so much of a difference in myself and her it's a shame we actually became friends in any sense of the word. Our friendship formed under a guise of convenience. I want to elevate myself, but she seems to be another one of the ABC crew in pursuit of an advanced degree. I wish I had been quiet about some things when I was around her, it could have saved me the headache and disappointment to know that I was getting closer to someone whose values about family, love, life, society, etc. aren't as evolved and common sensical as my own. I have slowly started to speak with her less and less and choosing to be in places other than where I normally hung out with her. I feel kind of sad because she was one of the first people I met while here, but true friendship is a rare thing to find, so I guess I will trust that I'll get over it. However, I have learned an absolutely wonderful lesson and that is to take charge and vet the friends I allow in my personal sphere.

  5. Just last night I was at an event and kept quiet. I noticed folks wanting me to fill the space with babble so they started babbling to me. During my quiet times they would approach without a salutation and ask me questions as though I worked there when clearly I didn't. A quiet BW makes people nervous and curious. There is power in keeping quiet & keeping your mood the sooner BW learn that the better.

  6. I really enjoyed this article. I'm considered a quiet one myself and find that most people underestimate me. In some cases they also overestimate me. There's nothing wrong with being a good listener and observer.

  7. I agree.

    I've never been the type to argue and fight over anything. Some people consider that as weak, but I consider it being smart. Arguing and fighting doesn't solve problems in my opinion it only causes more drama and spite.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't condone being a push over either, I just prefer to handle situations tactfully and assertively. Sometimes that means talking it out. Sometimes that means letting go and walking away.