Too polite to stay safe

We’ve all done it, I suspect. Not said ‘no’ despite knowing full well that not to do so puts us in a situation that is at best a bit embarrassing and at worst in real danger. Usually it’s somewhere between the two. An older relative once said to me, ‘you’re so very sensible,’ and she wasn’t being complimentary. I was generally sufficiently slow, stupid or sensible that I said ‘no’ more than most. But I still did the wrong thing on occasion.

I’ve got the most recent Hollywood scandal in mind now. But it could be almost any other situation in history, because people never change.

I’m so ancient that I must have heard the accusation ‘she slept her way to the top’ for at least fifty years. I used to treat this with a pinch of salt, feeling that many successful women might just have got to the top by dint of talent and [other] hard work. Now, though, it’s become quite clear that while there might have been ‘sleeping’ involved, it wasn’t the poor, powerful man who was being lured into letting a cunning female use sex to get where she wanted to go.

She was most likely forced to. Too scared to say no, too cornered to say no, or too polite to.

I’d not thought about the being too polite [until it’s too late] to step away, until the other day when I read this: ‘You know it’s a bad idea. — You know he’s going to do you harm. He knows you know. But what do you do? You don’t wish to offend him, so you step closer. How dumb are you?’ This was about a teenage boy not keeping a good distance between himself and a dangerous criminal in the latest Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy. But the sentiment is there; you are young, or pretty or female or any other thing that makes people try to get at you. Because they know you’ll be too polite to realise where it is heading before it’s too late.

Another book I read, years ago, was about a boy with Asperger Syndrome, who was bullied at school. Between them, his mother and his teacher devised a way to deal with the bully, helping the aspie boy to learn a short script, ending with a humorous surprise. It worked. Humour, and cooperation, are two great weapons. Ridicule your bully/sexual predator/film producer/boss.

If someone is doing it to you, then very likely they are, or have been, doing it to [many] others as well. Find them. Work together. It seems that employers, police and even your parents won’t necessarily believe you. Think about the film, 9 to 5. Try to find your inner Tomlin/Fonda/Parton.

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