You’re a grown-ass woman. You have manners. Part of what makes you so grown-ass, though, is that you know and accept that not everybody does. It’s very unfortunate, and there are different levels of egregiousness re: other people’s lack of manners, which we will address below, but not everyone had your parents and/or learned that you can’t just say everything you think immediately as soon as you think it, especially if it is racist in nature. ESPECIALLY then, but also like, telling someone they “look tired” or whatever, just, shut up everyone.
An important thing to remember and try to stop from happening is that as a woman (grown-ass, but still, woman), people think they can just tell you things about your appearance and you have to take them in like “Oh thank you, world! I wasn’t aware, but now that you, a stranger on the subway, has said so, I WILL go eat a sandwich! I am so gross and thin,” or “Why, goodness me, distant relative! I had put on weight, but I hadn’t noticed until you said something! It’s the side effect of a medication I don’t want to tell you about, but anyway, off to the gym!” I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s lots of ways the world around you is going to be rude, and here are some “high road” ways of dealing with them.
“I know you don’t mean that.”
This is a great first effort in dispelling but disciplining rudeness, especially from someone who either doesn’t know better or is technically higher-up than you. It’s a polite, if slightly passive aggressive way to get the message across that someone has said something you don’t like, but it gives them the benefit of the doubt. You can make the benefit of the doubt more or less dubious as you like, depending on tone and facial expression when delivering this doozy. Try it on a casually homophobic elder relative or a slightly suggestive comment from your boss today!
Take a second
A lot of the time being offended is a knee-jerk reaction, one that goes away when we have the time to rationalize it or think about almost anything else. Being able to bite back at people the second they make us feel pain or shame or stupidity is what makes twitter such a complete nightmare. @everyone CALM DOWN. You don’t need to send that snarky email back to your cousin, and she probably only said those things because she feels left out or jealous or angry or any one of the smorgasboard of bummer human emotions that cause people to be jerks to each other. Drink a cup of tea or do a sudoku or spend some time not thinking about what your mom said about “whether or not you want to eat that,” and you’ll probably find it’s not that big a deal anymore. If it still is, proceed to the next bit of advice.
“Don’t ever do that again, that is not okay.”
Getting into an argument with someone who thinks it’s okay to grab your butt just because you’re both drunk at a party and you happen to be wearing a skirt is kind of a losing battle. Tempting though it may be to throw your drink on them and let them know some stuff about feminism, this person is a drunk moron and will not absorb what you are saying. These kinds of things can be especially difficult if it’s someone you know. Cut your losses with a stern, focused “Don’t ever do that again.” This often shames the person into an apology, and at the very least lets them know that you did not like what they did or said. The “that is not okay” adds the warning that this kind of behaviour will be met with a response like yours should they try it again with someone else.
It’s okay to walk away
A lot of the time people are rude because they’re trying to bait you into interacting with them. If a co-worker you don’t get on with makes a passive-aggressive, bitchy remark about your shoes or something (She’s not very creative, okay? She’s just rude.), pretending they complimented you for real and walking away to make conversation with someone more pleasant is like, the classiest way to scream FUCK YOUUUUU in someone’s face without ever actually doing it. Never get into it with someone, no matter how awful they’re being, if you feel like you could be in personal danger for doing so. This includes assholes who yell at you while you’re walking home at night. Although…
Sometimes you have to let’er rip.
Be careful about it, as suggested above, but ohhhhmygod sometimes the best thing in the world is just giving it to whatever b-hole is treating you or one of your friends like a second-class citizen. If someone’s trying to intimidate you or make you feel small, simply responding to them from a place of strength is often enough to confuse and upset them into leaving you alone. RIP, attitude problem of the guy who worked in the mail room and grabbed my ass while my arms were full of trays at the work Christmas party. Your friends all think you are an idiot with no balls and they are RIGHT. Although I would note that explaining calmly why your antagonist’s behaviour is upsetting to you is just as effective as a load of swearing or insults.
Take the literal high road
Get stoned and go for a hike and tell the world to eff off for a bit. Just kidding, pot makes you forgetful, which makes you late for things, which is rude, but taking a second to clear your head and not worry about social politics or any of that garbage is pretty crucial. Go for a walk! (My advice for everything. Go for a walk. This column is brought to you by the Canadian Society for Pedestrianism and Outdoor Hikes.)
Please be nice, guys. Please just everyone be nice to each other as often as possible. Thank you! (See, manners.)
Follow Monica on twitter: @monicaheisey
Read more of Monica’s Grown-Ass Woman guides on being sick, getting other people’s parents to like you, getting shit done, your face, sneak-cercise saying no, twitter, talking about your body anxieties, hangover maintenance, vintage clothes, how to have a long-distance relationship, sounding smart at cocktail parties, and packing to disappear.