blog · Mental Health · self care · trauma

Stop Calling Me A Nice Girl

I’M NOT A NICE GIRL. People laugh when I say that because it sounds ludicrous that I would need to convince someone that I’m not a nice girl.

But let me tell you why referring to a woman as a “nice girl” isn’t always a compliment:

There was a debacle with one of my neighbors not too long ago. I was out with one of my dogs and my once-friendly neighbor felt that I was too close to his property line and began 1. taking pictures and videos of me, and 2. yelling at me for coming too close to his home.

I was not only stupefied that a man whom I’ve had nothing but positive interactions with in the past was yelling at me, but I felt threatened that photos were being taken of me without my knowledge or consent. With my history of assault, the last thing anyone wants to do is approach me angrily and start snapping photos of me. Cue PTSD symptoms!

But I’m not the silent woman I used to be. If you’re coming into my space in a way that is uninvited, I will let you know. If you are not listening to me when I tell you to back off, I will become louder than you to make it known you are not welcome in my space. So when my neighbor started with his shenanigans, I held my ground. And by “held my ground”, I mean I let him have it –

-Not in a “sir, you’re making me uncomfortable” type of way. More like a “Unless you want a stalking charge, get those photos of me off your phone and get the hell away from me because I know you aren’t screaming at me that way.”

Aggressive? No.

Passive? No.

Assertive? YES.

But what does that mean about me? That I’m a bitch? Apparently so, because as my husband came out to assist me, this man turned to my husband and said (pointing at me) “I don’t know what happened to her. I thought she was such a nice girl.”

And I LOST IT. Not explicitly, but implicitly. I knew I had been triggered and it was time for me to exit the scene and let my husband take over. But believe me you, I did not walk away without stating firmly “I am not a nice girl.”

If setting boundaries makes me mean, so be it.

If letting you know that I don’t want you taking photos of me makes me mean, so be it.

If digging my heels into the dirt because I refuse to shrink in the presence of your unwarranted rage makes me mean, so be it.

If correcting you on what my name really is instead of hearing you call me “Amanda” for the 9 millionth time makes me mean, so be it.

If I ever gave off the impression that I was “too nice” to do any of the above, then I will gladly be labeled as the “mean” one. But to be honest, none of what I did makes me a mean person. It makes me be seen.

“Nice girl” really isn’t a compliment in this context. It’s degrading and oppressive, as if I’m not allowed to have a voice and stand up for myself since I’m such a nice girl.

What in the hell does niceness have to do with setting boundaries?

I cannot wrap my brain around this for the life of me. All I know is that I’m not a nice girl. I’m a multi-faceted woman who is so much more than “nice.”

Since that incident with my neighbor happened, I have found myself going back to when I was around 14 and would babysit my two little cousins. Their mom, who was also my cousin, gave me the best advice that I never understood at the time but live by now. Before she would leave me with her little ones to head off to work, she would say to me “If anyone comes to the door or comes anywhere near you, act crazy.”

I would giggle, but I didn’t really get it. Sometimes, the only way women are feared, respected, or taken seriously is if they “act crazy” – and by crazy, I mean engaging in all of the actions I mentioned above that would seem perfectly acceptable if a male were doing it.

What my cousin meant was “Don’t take anyone’s shit. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you. Don’t let anyone make you feel threatened.”

Besides, the only time I ever get mad or “act crazy” (by the way, I am not endorsing the use of the word ‘crazy’) is when I feel unheard, unseen, attacked, misrepresented, or taken advantage of. And in the words of my girl, T-Swift…

There’s nothing like a mad woman.

YOU made her like that.

Yours Truly,

Not A Nice Girl

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