Malte Mueller / Getty Images This is the weekend edition of Culture Study — the newsletter from Anne Helen Petersen, which you can read about here. If you like it and want more like it in your inbox,…
The more specific you can be about what you actually need with a communication, the better.
I’ve tried to say no more over the last year — frankly responding that “I don’t have the bandwidth for this right now,” or “I want to do this, but can it happen in four months?” But I still feel weird every time. ‘No’ makes me feel like an asshole. Many over-extended women have told me they find ‘no’ particularly difficult to access: for women, there’s a gendered expectation of even more availability, of receptiveness and eagerness, which makes a ‘no’ read as cold, or standoffish, or bitchy. (Which is why I still dream of creating a second email account that can pose as my ‘assistant’ and say no, repeatedly and firmly, for me). But I also feel like every ‘no’ is a lost opportunity. My internalized logic, accumulated through years of academic precarity and freelancing and working at BuzzFeed and book writing, is that you never know where a yes could eventually lead you.