Growing up women learn to say “No” to unacceptable behavior. But people don’t always listen. That’s because we are just saying “No” and not using the Power of “No.”
Just saying “No” leaves the door open for negotiation.
Does she really mean it? Let me see. Maybe if I pester her enough she will give in. Maybe if I am nicer or promise her something she wants in return, she will give in.
Just saying “No” allows the encounter to become a challenge to see who will back down or give in first. If the woman gives in, the antagonizer feels they won – and they learn that “No” doesn’t really mean “No.” It means that she is open to negotiations and wants something in exchange. Or, that she doesn’t have the strength and confidence to stand up for herself.
The Power of “No” is different.
It draws a line and says “Don’t you dare cross it.” The woman has a look in her eye that says she is serious. She will not back down or budge one iota from her position. Anyone who dares to cross the line will suffer the consequences.
The Power of “No” is intimidating. It makes the antagonizer stop and think about their actions. If they cross the line they know they are choosing to do something wrong. They have to decide if what they want is worth the consequences.
Way back in the mid-20th century young girls used to learn the Power of “No” by watching their mothers and the women in their family enforce the rules in the home. Mothers didn’t say “Wait till your father gets home.” They pulled out the wooden spoon themselves.
Girls also witnessed countless examples of female power, determination and intimidation every Sunday night on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Their role models were the females of every species who protected their young. The females didn’t just say “No” and open negotiations:
Predator: “I want to eat your babies”
Female: “No. Go away.”
Predator: “Oh come on, let me eat your babies. If you let me, I’ll take you to this really nice watering hole.”
As soon as a predator came too close animal mothers used the Power of “No.” It didn’t matter how big or powerful the predator was, the mother never backed down. She never thought “This is going to be too hard or I might get hurt or he has too much power so go ahead and take my babies.” She always stood up for herself and her young and fought back.
We still see some examples of women using the Power of “No.” We see it in the mother who drags her son home from the middle of a riot. I saw it all the time in the construction trailer where the administrator laid down the law and enforced the trailer rules:
- Clean your boots off before you enter.
- Don’t use the copier without permission.
- Don’t take office supplies.
- Don’t ever use the women’s bathroom.
She made even the most macho obnoxious men obey. No one dared cross her.
The Power of “No” is female power. It recognizes that women have an inner strength and a determination unmatched in men. It says women have the authority to set the rules for acceptable behavior and the power to enforce those rules with consequences.
When women use the Power of “No,” they assert and stand up for themselves. They turn #MeToo into #HeSangSoprano, #IFiledCharges, #HeNeverDidThatAgain, #HeListened and #ProudofMyself.
Unfortunately over the past couple of decades women have distanced themselves from the Power of “No.” When my daughters were growing up other mothers and I discussed how girls were no longer getting the same messaging we received. That’s because the Power of “No” was no longer politically correct because it was associated with motherhood and maternal instinct.
By taking away the Power of “No” girls and women were left with just saying “No” and a belief that men have this incredible power that women can’t overcome. We diminished ourselves as we traded in the Power of “No” for the political power we expected to find in victimization.
But victimization doesn’t advance women. It never has and it never will.
Asserting ourselves, standing up for ourselves and using the Power of “No” does advance women.
As women, we need to go back and reclaim our inherent female power. We need to draw the lines of acceptable behavior… and then give that deadly look that says “Don’t you dare cross that line.”
Empowered Women Use the Power of “No”
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