Now, perhaps more than ever, the rights of women in society are being constantly questioned. It seems that there are people on every corner with something negative to say about women’s rights. As a woman, curating your emotional toolkit to deal with a potential situation you could be put in is a proactive step you can take right now.
The right to choose is intrinsically linked to your rights as a woman. The next time anyone tells you that you are promiscuous or ungodly, take these steps to form a response. These are designed to de-escalate a situation while keeping you safe.
Reflect on your feelings
Imagine that you are getting coffee with a group of acquaintances, and one of them makes a callous joke about a woman’s right to choose. In that instant, quietly take a moment to reflect on how you feel.
Regardless of whether the hurtful comment was intentional, know that your feelings are validated. Anger, resentment, and fear are all common responses in a situation like this, although you are entitled to feel however you want. This moment of reflection simply gets you in tune with your thoughts and allows you to tap into your emotions.
Additionally, taking a second to pause allows you to gather your thoughts. While yelling at the person who made the offensive comment might feel good, it is important to keep your composure. This way, you do not escalate the situation further, therefore keeping you out of danger.
Decide your response (if you choose to respond at all!)
Once you have taken a beat to reflect on how you feel, it is time to figure out how you want to respond. This is completely up to your discretion. However, remember that your response could have further consequences, and you want to have pride in what you say and do.
It is also important to remember that you do not owe this individual a response at all. If the hurtful comment was made with the intention of being inflammatory, you do not need to feed into their game. Sometimes, ignoring a harmful comment is the bravest thing you can do. Additionally, you may not feel comfortable responding, which does not make you a bad person.
If you have decided to respond, now is the time to speak up. Using “I statements” is a great way to get your point across without using inflammatory language. Explaining your emotions rather than accusing someone of misogyny is another good way to keep a situation under control. While this might not feel as gratifying as immediately calling someone out, the more calmly you appeal to an individual, the more likely it is that they will listen to you.
Responding to a rude comment after the fact is also valid. If after several minutes, hours, or even days, something someone said about your right as a woman does not sit well with you, it is your prerogative to let them know.
Take action, not reaction
In any situation, if someone makes you uncomfortable with their words, remember that you are able to leave. Even if it is awkward or uncomfortable, removing yourself from a situation might be the best thing you can do.
If a rude comment was made to you at work, consider appealing to your HR department or boss. It is important to bring situations like this to the attention of authority figures.
Taking a distinct stand on your response rather than simply reacting to a negative comment will keep you in a position of control. Remember, you have the right to take up space as a woman, and your voice always deserves to be heard.