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Friday, 27 July 2018

On Nagging

Hannah Barnes

I spent the first half of my twenties trying to avoid nagging anyone. God forbid, I became one of those women. A fishwife. A harpy. A shrew. Always berating someone about something.

All the internalized sexism though? Apparently I was fine with that.

As a kid, I saw my mother's nagging as a product entirely of its own making. As though mum chose to spend all of her free time being subjected to passive aggressive, and aggressive aggressive, bouts of outrage from me...the person who hadn't put the chicken in the oven/had flooded the bathroom/was refusing to dye her hair a natural shade.

Perhaps it was just a hobby of hers? One I'd have preferred she enjoy on her own time.

What didn't click until much later, was that the nagging I was so often forced to bear, was a direct result of my actions, not mum's. If i'd just done what I said, when I said, my she wouldn't have been forced to nag. I wouldn't have been forced to throw a TV down the staircase in outrage and we'd all have much happier memories of the noughties.

In all seriousness, I'd let her down. Whether it was the lack of a ready roasted chicken on her return home or the fourth time she caught me smoking in my room, I had broken a promise. She had every right to express her displeasure. She had so much on her shoulders without managing the day to day of my life too. Me standing there rolling my eyes and telling her to chill out, was seriously shitty behavior.

By calling this valid expression of disappointment and anger, nagging; we negate it; we downsize it and we turn it into something petty. Too often too, we equate nagging with women and not only that, but with subversive women. Belittling those same women for daring to expect more from the other people on their team. Don't believe me? Look up some synonyms.

It is as though the very act of nagging negates the effectiveness of nagging itself. The more you nag, the more unreasonable you are perceived as becoming. The more unreasonable, the less likely it is anyone is going to act on your requests. It's a thankless, and often fruitless, task.

I'm not sure I'd ever have figured out the true cycle of nagging were I a man. I'll never know of course, but my personal enlightenment arose from heading out into the world as a woman. A woman who is often forced to nag. A woman who is often forced to do more than her share. I won't get into that as there is already a great explanation of what the burden of the mental load feels like here.

The choice for women, right now, is simple; add nagging to your mental to-do list, and suffer the consequences, or add the five tasks you're nagging about and get the fuck on with them.

So, if you're still under the impression that being nagged is something you have no control over, consider one is going to nag you about something you've already done. Stop acting like this is their problem. The problem is yours. Take ownership of, and responsibility for, your own life and your own to-do list. Simply said; GROW THE FUCK UP.

If, on the other hand, you're the one stuck in the cycle of nagging know that you are not alone. Know that you are not petty or pathetic or any of that. Know that you are an absolute boss...even if no one else knows it.

Hannah Barnes / Author & Editor

I keep myself busy with my small business; The Loft Gifts, the period poverty charity I run; The Crimson Wave, writing here and for vaious platforms and a growing menagerie of household pets.


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