Recently I read a brilliant editorial written by Laura Bates, the founder of Everyday Sexism, in which she discusses the reality of womxn being taught politeness and the very real, very devastating ramifications of said politeness. For the most part, I was raised to be polite. Not Mr. and Mrs. polite but you know please and thank you polite. Having worked in service industry for as long as I did I cultivated a deep well of politeness.
"Often what we euphemistically describe as "politeness" ends up sounding like an apology for taking up space, for asking anything of others, for even existing at all." -Laura Bates
One of my biggest pet peeves, one that I am guilty of too, is women apologizing for being in a physical space. This is born out of lessons in politeness. When we bump into someone, the phrase to use is excuse me; not, I am sorry. If you need to get by someone in the grocery aisle, pardon me works; not, I'm sorry. There is no reason we have to apologize for existing on this planet. Unless, I mean, you are a complete shit bag, then get to groveling.
One of my favorite podcasts is My Favorite Murder. One of the reasons I love listening to Karen and Georgia is that they are not afraid to reveal how messy their lives are. They show up, they talk about the hard parts and then they talk about murder. I know, I am a weirdo. But one of the best parts of their show is the fact that they discuss how womxn are trained to be polite and how dangerous that can be.
Recently Taylor Swift won $1 in a lawsuit against some creep who grabbed her ass while standing next to his girlfriend during a promotional photoshoot. She said thank you to him after the photoshoot! Why? Because she was raised to be a polite women. Her mother has gone on the record talking about how disturbing this fact is, to her and to Taylor. Taylor kicked some serious butt in the courtroom and I am thrilled she won that $1.
When you are kind to people they are often more likely to cooperate with and accommodate you. Use politeness as a tool, not a default. Be nice to the operator who puts you on hold when you have to call the electric company, but don't let being polite get in the way of showing up, in your body, on this earth, with your brain and heart in full on function mode.