"No" can be a difficult word to say for many people. But I think it is an especially hard word for women to say.
Historically and culturally woman have been moulded into saying "yes" in a world which, despite progress towards female emancipation, is still male dominated. Even in England, which has been at the forefront of female emancipation, women still only received the vote in 1918 and even that was only for women over thirty. It was not until 1928 when The Equal Franchise Act lowered the voting age for women to 21 did women's voting rights finally become on a par with men's rights.
So less than a 100 years ago women in the UK were still considered unequal to men. And that still holds true today in many areas of our lives in the UK despite our legal rights. Across the world women are even more marginalised. Women are still paid less, promoted less, sidelined and abused as slaves, servants and sex workers. They are far more likely than men to be the victims of bullying, rape and murder. Women are, too often, disposable items.
When you examine women's roles in society, both in the past and present, and then factor in the physical disadvantages of being a woman you can see why it can be difficult for any woman to say "no". We are even more disadvantaged because as natural nurturers and carers it is never easy for us to say that one word even when we know we absolutely should.
And even though I have had many advantages over the many abused women across the world I too have found that saying "no" can be a difficult task. Instead, I've found myself saying phrases like:
"That's not fair"
"Don't you think it would be better if..."
"Perhaps there's another way...,"
"That doesn't seem very moral..."
And so on....
When what I meant is "no".
So as I become older and my days fewer I have resolved to say "no" more often. Join me.
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