Women often face societal pressure to stay “quiet” – to always be nice, to never kick up a fuss, to avoid being “pushy” or “bossy”. And as a result, it can be difficult to speak up and advocate for yourself. What happens if we challenge this norm? That’s the focus of “Drowning in Timidity: Women, Politeness, and the Power of Assertive Living” by Cara Tuttle Bell, JD, MA. She explores the tools you need to break the cycle of excessive politeness and learn how to voice your needs.
What is your book about?
Drowning in Timidity provides tools and insights needed for extending both the power and benefits of assertiveness beyond occasional use. It improves our every day so that we begin to communicate more clearly, advocate for ourselves and others firmly (but not aggressively) and embrace the responsibility for intervening in the world around us. As active bystanders, we can create a fairer and more equitable world for ourselves, our friends and families and others.
- How politeness can be a trap
- Assessing who you are and who you want to be
- Undoing the lessons of timidity
- How assertiveness is key to good allyship
- Assertiveness at work
- Assertiveness in personal relationships
- The power of healthy anger (particularly for girls)
- Engaging assertively collectively to change the world
Why should people read it? Who is the book for?
The book explores real-life examples to expose the tensions and resentments that arise due to the absence of assertiveness in our friendships, romantic and sexual relationships, family dynamics, workplaces and communities. Drowning in Timidity uses the foundations of assertiveness training to motivate us to prioritize our needs, voice our wants and engage with others directly and fairly. This includes the non-negotiable duty to receive assertiveness as we strive to engage in authentic allyship and build solidarity among women and across movements. While this book focuses on women, it does so inclusively. Its lessons are for anyone wishing to harness the power of assertiveness.
Single most important takeaway:
Assertiveness is key to healthy, authentic, ambitious living.
Meet the author
Cara Tuttle Bell, JD, MA, is a speaker, author, consultant and activist-educator. She has over fifteen years of experience working to improve gender equity in higher education. Bell is the author of Drowning in Timidity: Women, Politeness, and the Power of Assertive Living, and has contributed chapters to various books and publications. This includes The Future Female Leader: Preparing Girls and Women to Lead the World, The Female Code: A Woman’s Book for Empowerment and Confidence and the forthcoming anthology The Professional Woman: Pivoting to the New Normal. Bell leads sexual harassment and assault prevention efforts at Vanderbilt University.