#TBT: "Nice For What" ft. How I Learned to Say "No"
I HONESTLY DON'T REALLY LIKE DRAKE'S "NICE FOR WHAT" SONG.
I think some of the lyrics are extra, even though the video is pretty dope because the women in it are amazing.
but that's besides the point. i will say, the message behind the whole "nice for what" rhetorical question can teach a lot of us women a valuable lesson or two. especially this woman right here 🙋🏻. In the song, drake says "you gotta be Nice for what to these [n-word]" (we don't say the n-word here. no, not even when we're singing along to lyrics 🤷🏻♀️and if you look like this emoji you shouldn't either.....but i digress 💅🏼).
HE'S BASICALLY APPLAUDING US UNAPOLOGETICALLY BOSSY, INDEPENDENT WOMEN.
anyway, this post isn't just about men, but a lot of us women are too nice. so nice, that we seem to forget that "no." is a complete sentence. especially when dealing with men.
personally, i am nice person, but i'm not that nice. i definitely know how to be mean if i need to, but even me, the girl who knows how to be mean, struggled learning to say "no" without feeling the need to explain myself. this struggle made me realize how deep an issue this whole "nice" epidemic is. especially when dealing with men.
i remember the first time i said "no." as a complete sentence. it was honestly pretty recently. I volunteered one day to help a friend with something work-related, and a couple weeks later he asked if i could help him again. i had something to do that day, but more importantly, i just didn't feel like helping. i was sick of explaining myself when i really just wanted to say no, so i did just that. i politely said no. i remember feeling so compelled to apologize or explain why i didn't want to help, but again, i wanted to learn to just say no. i didn't owe him an explanation, especially because (god bless him) he was asking out of entitlement, whether he realized it or not. so, i resisted all urges to further explain, and his reaction was so telling of why i needed to end my no's with periods more often.
as soon as i said no, he responded like "No?" so, I repeated myself. he nervously laughed and said "Wow. that was mean." so i kindly said: "You asked me a yes/no question didn't you? I responded to it."
Admittedly, the conversation was a bit weird after that; i don't think he was used to hearing "no" from women. another reason we should all do it more often. after I he and i ended the conversation, i called my cousin Dena telling her how liberated i felt finally knowing how to say no. I explained how uncomfortable it made me, and how insane it is that us women are constantly made to feel like we need to explain or give a good reason should we dare to say no to someone (especially to a man). I went on to tell her that i couldn't believe how i, a so-called "empowered" woman, could be made to feel that way. it was then when i realized just how deeply sexism can impact even our most mindless interactions.
HOW MANY OF US WOMEN KNOW HOW TO SAY NO WHEN A GUY ASKS FOR OUR NUMBER? WITHOUT EXPLAINING IT. WITHOUT TELLING THEM WE ARE ALREADY IN A [REAL OR MADE-UP] RELATIONSHIP? because that's not the point. i'm specifically talking about the situations where we aren't interested in the guy. why should we have to talk about our husband or boyfriend or show them a ring for us to politely say no when a man we have no interest in asks for our number. why can't we just say no?
it really is a big deal.
the same forces at play in these small interactions are the forces often at play when young women are forced into nonconsensual sex. girls are getting raped and/or killed because they are afraid to say no. meanwhile, other girls are getting raped and/or killed because they dared to say no.
last week, at one of our SHAI series coffee chats, we were discussing mental health. naturally, the conversation centered around us women constantly feeling like we live our lives for everyone but ourselves. other women expressed their struggles in saying no (especially to men). i couldn't believe how many of us struggle with the same issue ending our no's with a period. we struggle with our relatives, with our romantic relationships, with our supervisors or colleagues. so many of us feel like we don't have the liberty to use "no" as a complete sentence. and that is a big deal.
i'm not "too nice," but i do consider myself a nice person. depending on my relationship with the person and the situation, i have no problem explaining why i can't do something. i think it is often necessary to explain things to people we care about. i want relationships based on accountability, where i feel like i am accountable to you and you to me. but i don't want relationships based on entitlement. that's where you lose me, literally and figuratively.
I BELONG TO ME AND TO GOD.
so in the situations where i have all right to decline (and the other person has no right to feel entitled), i get to put a period after my No, and you should too.
Just try it once.
HERE, LET ME HELP.
When someone asks you if you can do something for them, and you know the undertone is "You are going to do this because I am asking you to. I'm just asking to seem nice", Hit them with a hard NO. politely, casually. for once, let them feel uncomfortable.
When your boss tries to use intimidation tactics on you, when s/he asks you to do something but is really playing on the power dynamics, knowing you wouldn't dare say no. Hit them with a hard NO. Politely, casually. for once, Let them fumble for words.
When someone tries to pursue you by asking you to do something aggressively or inappropriately, betting on the fact that you wouldn't feel comfortable turning them down, hit them with a hard NO. Politely, casually. for once, Let them feel ashamed.
Just try it. I promise it's not as bad as it seems.
I'd like to assume the best of people. I'd like to think that they don't have bad intentions for me or for you. and they probably don't. but people are creatures of habit. if this person is so used to people saying yes to them all the time, they are going to continue using the approaches that seem to work so well for them. and this isn't about them. it's about you and your growth and your rights. but while we are talking about them, saying "no" to them can make them a better person, too. sometimes saying "no" indirectly holds a mirror to that other person, forcing them to reflect on why they feel so entitled to begin with. why they seek to control, intimidate or take advantage of others, if those are their intentions.
you may be called a b-word, you may be called stuck up, you may be called so many things my love. but who cares? you know you were polite and respectful in answering someone's question. and you also know you stood up for your right to choose.
SAY NO MORE OFTEN. SAY "NO, THANK YOU" IF IT MAKES YOU FEEL BETTER, MY LOVE. CHOOSE YOU AND YOUR HAPPINESS. YOU DESERVE IT.