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Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. If women are nice, they are seen as weak and ineffective, but if they are tough, they are labeled a bitch. Her accessible advice and hard-won wisdom detail how to balance being empathetic with being decisive, how to rise above the double standards that can box you in, how to cultivate authentic confidence that projects throughout a room, and much more.

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A single city woman meets Mr. Right-he has amber eyes and a wily heart. There's only one catch. Relatively indifferent to the natural world, allergic to dogs, and happily independent, writer Carry on, Mr.

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Charity Girl. During World War I, seventeen-year-old Frieda Mintz secures a job at a Boston department store and strikes out on her own, escaping her repressive Jewish mother and marriage to a wealthy widower twice her age. I had asked politely, but he had not listened. The next time I turned around and the guy was standing right there, in my personal space, I opened my mouth to tell him to get lost… but nothing came out.

It was like my voice was literally stuck in the middle of my throat—as though it was a tangible thing I was choking on. I knew what I wanted to say, but I could not get the words to exit my mouth. I felt so overwhelmed and helpless, and I started to cry. Finally, I felt something break loose. Break free. At that point, it clearly looked like a fight was about to happen, and the bouncers intervened. I got kicked out of the club that night, but I knew that from then on, I would never have trouble finding my voice.

And she asked me a very simple yet fundamental question: Why had I had such trouble speaking up?

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Why had I been effectively struck mute, if only temporarily? Yet as I pondered the question, I realized there were some deeper reasons behind why I had not immediately or easily been able to speak up for myself that night in the bar.

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And it had to do with everything I was raised to be. I grew up in a nice, safe middle-class suburb.


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My parents were good parents, loving and attentive. I did not have much time to get into any trouble. I was a good kid, basically. My parents, who only wanted the best for me, had taught me how to behave. I did as I was told. I listened to my teachers and coaches. I was polite and compliant. I did not talk back or make a fuss. Instead, I learned how to smile even when I was angry or sad. Negative emotions like anger were usually met with strong disapproval. Over and over, I got the message in both indirect and direct ways that I was only truly lovable and worthwhile as long as behaved the way the most important adults in my life expected me to behave.

I was raised to be a Nice Girl, in other words. And as such, I knew the Nice Girl rules. Not that I had to remind myself of them—by the time I was 7 or 8, it was like breathing. Rules like: Be polite and nice, even if someone is being mean or rude to you. Think of others first. No one likes a needy, shrill, and demanding girl or woman. Watch your tone.

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And I admit there is a good side to being raised in this way. I learned the social niceties that allowed me to function quite well in a lot of different circles. But there is a dark side to it, like losing your voice right when you need it the most. And if you do not know what you need and want, it is very hard to assert yourself and your boundaries. When you learn that being pleasant, compliant, and accommodating is paramount, you never really learn how to speak up.


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  8. When you raise girls to be Nice, you cannot turn around and expect them to shed years of expectations and training and morph into people who are able to fight for themselves. Now I know what you are thinking: I clearly just have issues. My experience does not match yours—you were raised to speak up for yourself.