One of the most common criticisms when women engage with politics or activism is not a critique of their message or platform, but a critique of tone or word choice. How many times have we heard things like, “I like what she’s saying, I just don’t like how she’s saying it.” How many articles have we seen debating a woman’s likeability when she enters the political sphere?
Even a 16 year old climate activist is getting hate online, because people claim she’s “too angry”. Not to mention the tone policing that happens for women of color who push back against oppression.
Which is why I love this short but sweet article by Jessica Valenti on The Niceness Trap for women. It’s taken a long time, but we’re starting to get to an era where women have more agency to push back against the constant social pressure to be nice all the time. There are so many things that are more important that niceness. Our survival, for one.
And sure, our new unwillingness to put “nice” first will be uncomfortable for a lot of people. But growth doesn’t happen without discomfort. Whether they like it or not, times are changing.