The trouble is that, for women, being “nice” often translates into putting up with things we should never put up with. How many times has some creep sat uncomfortably close to me on the bus and stared me down, yet I’m too afraid to just get up and move, lest I offend him?
We smile when we’re harassed on the street or hit on by jerks. We laugh at sexist jokes. We learn that when we have strong opinions, we’ll be called bitches and that if we get angry, we’ll be called hysterical. When we say what we want, we’re called pushy or aggressive.
Part of learning “ladylike” behavior is about learning to smile politely when someone is being crude. Femininity has long been attached to passivity and to being docile. Men fight, women giggle and fume silently.