The Power of Rude by Rebecca Reid
Women who are tired of being polite to their own detriment.
In a nutshell:
Author Reid offers tips on how to be ‘rude’ in different life situations as a means to stop putting everyone else’s needs above our own.
“My desire not to be rude made me the absolute worst version of myself.”
“…all of this advice comes with a great honking caveat, and that is to keep yourself safe.”
“However, there is a tendency for women to use ‘sorry’ as a catch-all, often when what they really mean is ‘thank you.’ If you can swap out those sorries you can assert yourself as a more competent person.”
Why I chose it:
It looked pretty interesting. Also, I’ve read books and kindness and niceness this year, so it seemed kind of funny to read one about being rude.
Reid’s main theory is that most women have been socialized to be polite since we were young (the whole ‘he’s mean because he likes you and you should be flattered’ thing that happens in primary school), and we tend to be judged as ‘rude’ for doing things that should not be considered rude. And that this unwillingness to be rude means we are putting ourselves second when we don’t need to.
By rude, Reid means ‘good’ rude, not ‘bad’ rude. Bad rude would be yelling at the waiter when your food comes out wrong; good rude would be kindly telling the waiter about the error and asking for the correct dish; what many of us do is just pick at the food we didn’t order, pay, and leave.
Obviously, it’s more nuanced than Reid saying we should all be jerks. Instead, it’s more about asserting ourselves in situations where normally we might just grin and bear it. Many are things that we might consider quite small and minor, but her theory is that all those little things add up over time. A really basic example is when we get a haircut we don’t like. Instead of just smiling and thanking the hairdresser and then going home and crying, we should say (kindly, and without being an ass) that it hasn’t turned out as requested and then see what can be done to set things right.
I did see myself in many of the suggestions. I’ve definitely put the comfort of others ahead of myself for no good reason. And that’s the key – this book isn’t about putting one’s self first above all else. She’s saying that our focus shouldn’t be on trying to spare feelings when someone else is wrong and there is a (safe) way to work to make it right. It’s okay to point out a problem or issue and seek to rectify it – the key is to not be ‘bad’ rude about it.
She also operates in the real world, so in the section on dating, for example, she repeatedly points out that while we SHOULD be able to say ‘I’m not interested’ to a man instead of pretending we have a boyfriend to get him to go away, society isn’t there yet, as that can still be a physically dangerous situation for a woman to find herself in.
I also appreciate that Reid caveats what she says by acknowledging that women of color will have a tougher go in situations than a white woman like her, and that they often carry an even greater burden of being judged rude when they are merely being assertive.
Recommend to a Friend / Keep / Donate it / Toss it: