- Gender and Relationships
Is it Difficult For Single Women to Say 'No'?
Women Who Can't Say "No"
Says Shirley, a secretary in a multinational company: “I know I ought to get home on time, but my boss is a real demanding type and he always stays back after office hours. I know I hardly have time for myself, but what can I do? I don’t want to lose my job. I want to be the perfect secretary.” Pauline looks haggard and has dark rings under her eyes that even under eye cream can’t erase.
Fact is that if Shirley is good at her job, there’s no reason why she can’t refuse to stay late day in and day out. If the boss doesn’t like it, she can find another job. But if the boss is a rational being with even a shred of compassion in him, he’ll not want to lose Shirley.
Anitra has been in a steady relationship with a guy obsessed with sex for a couple of years. She can’t say no to sex even when she’s tired because she says he sulks for a whole week if she does. “That’s why I don’t want to marry him,” she says, “At least now I have a chance to call it all off.” But will she?
There are many women like Anitra out there who believe they’ll never find another man again. Perhaps they ought to examine themselves minutely. What is it that makes them so insecure? If it’s those extra kilos, they can go work it off. If it’s acne, there’s Shahnaz Hussain. If the problem is psychological and they cannot explain it, there’s always the psychiatrist. Yes, sane people do land up at the psychiatrist, because a lot of them have mental problems they can’t handle by themselves.
Her Needs vs the Needs of Others
Perhaps the most thoughtful answer comes from psychotherapists like Susie Orbach and Luise Eichenbaum, founders of the Women’s Therapy Centre in London who have found that women often do not express an opinion because they are over-preoccupied with the reactions of others. Women tend to consider anger as uncomfortable and dangerous because it is an assertion of their own needs over what they regard as the natural primacy of others. They consider themselves at fault if they fail to meet this standard, and land up equating the satisfaction of their needs with meeting the needs of others.
Love Yourself First
It all begins with childhood of course, when girls are encouraged by their mothers to be cooperative and to show consideration just like they have themselves. Not a bad thing at all, for consideration is a lovely womanly attribute and must be nurtured. But not at the cost of sacrificing one’s own needs. Too much of a good thing can become extremely destructive to the giver. For such women, attempting to satisfy their own needs often results in conflict and guilt. One thing must be kept in mind here: an unhappy and dissatisfied person cannot really satisfy another.
Just Say "No"
One of the techniques taught in assertiveness training classes is to express a wish firmly and persistently but without anger. This helps women develop a belief in their own ability to choose and change things, to be able to make mistakes and still survive. But these techniques can’t cure underlying self--doubt or offer an instant cure. This is where therapy steps in.
How different the world and relationships will be once more women learn to say ‘No’ effectively and positively! There will be no more unwanted pregnancies, no more fatigue and stress, no alcoholics staggering about the place, puking out well-guarded secrets, no martyrs trapped in hopeless relationships, no having to slog your *%$#@ off in order to prove yourself the equal of some man at work. Then and only then will women truly come into their own and Singledom acquire its true meaning: Independence and Emotional Strength.