Whether we're in the workplace or just walking down the street, being a woman can be exhausting. We are constantly on guard and wary of the men around us, often for good reason — one in three women has been sexually harassed, and more than 70 percent don't ever report it. That doesn't even begin to cover other, less serious annoyances women face, like being told to smile or having men explain simple concepts that they think we need help with. A viral tweet about things women should practice saying has garnered hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets. The list, shared by Twitter user @vegbby on Nov. 15, has nine simple statements women can use in the workplace, at home or anywhere else. They are: "You interrupted me. I’m not finished talking," "no," "that isn't funny," "that isn't appropriate," "I already know that," "that won't be necessary, "leave me alone," "you're making me uncomfortable," and "stop ignoring what I'm saying."
The tweet is a badly needed reminder that women don't have to couch their statements with smiles, by saying "please," or by being "nice" — that it's important to directly and assertively shut down unwanted behavior. Plenty of people agreed; the tweet racked up over 250K likes in only two days, and got responses from all over the internet.
Chrissy Teigen, who exudes confidence in pretty much everything she does, said even she gets nervous thinking about using some of the statements recommended for women.
Even though the tweet spread like wildfire, some people didn't agree with the premise. Some of the criticism was predictable and forgettable — men complained that women are actually the problem and talk down to men, which merits a hard no — but other responses raised interesting points: Should the onus be on a woman to stand up for herself in uncomfortable situations, or does the responsibility to change lie solely with the men who create the uncomfortable situation in the first place? Men began to share their own lists of statements in response to the viral tweet, and it was actually pretty encouraging. If men want to be allies or call themselves feminists, speaking up when they see a woman being spoken to inappropriately is a fantastic way to start.
The list is a reminder that women don't need to apologize for speaking up when they're made to feel uncomfortable — especially because the responsibility should be on the person making you uncomfortable in the first place. I once called out a male acquaintance for a misogynistic joke about Hillary Clinton during the presidential election, and I still feel anxious when I think about it over a year later. Did I make a scene? Did my friends think I was dramatic? Was what he said really that bad?
This is something women everywhere deal with, it seems — we work up the courage to stand up for ourselves and fellow women, but we question our decision after the fact. I'm fiercely outspoken, but a few weeks ago, I was grocery shopping when a male employee much older than me gave me a once-over and wouldn't look away. "Leave me alone" or "you're making me uncomfortable" would've both worked well in that situation, but I looked away and just hoped he'd get bored instead of saying anything. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem my hesitance was fully unfounded. Women on Twitter are sharing their experiences with the consequences of calling men out, and it's sobering.
Again, no woman should feel like it's a requirement to call a man out for his behavior, but it's worth noting that so many of us are afraid of what may happen. When women are murdered for saying no to men, it's unsurprising that we're hesitant, but this tweet is encouraging us to defend ourselves. One woman said she was going to print out the tweet as a reminder to be bold. People also used tweet replies to share their own advice.
This tweet clearly struck a nerve with hundreds of thousands of people, and it should be a must-read for all men. The fact that so many women can apply these phrases to our daily lives shows just how messed up the patriarchy is.