Views expressed are my own and do not represent the Mandela Washington Fellowship program

Pulitzer Prize winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich wrote “well-behaved women seldom make history” in a 1976 and when I saw it I just thought well yeah, Bad Girl RiRi didn’t make history by conforming or being a good girl.

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Anyways, being in the lecture room with 24 other African leaders has taught me some things about how manners could be the thing holding women back in society.

1. Speak when spoken to

During discussions, the men will discuss and contribute more than the women. Cause men have always been allowed to speak freely and out of turn. It’s their birth right. It’s not like the women don’t have the answers, they do, when you call upon them they respond with a correct answer and make valuable contributions.

2. Play it by the rules

So our lecturers will walk in and say what the rules of engagement are and usually hand-raising is one of them. From personal experience, I’d raise my hand til it hurt whereas the men would just speak when they want. So you’ll forever be waiting to be picked if you don’t jump in out of turn.

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3. Use your inside voice

A lady should be seen and not heard. The most outspoken Mandela Fellows are the male ones. We’ve never once had to ask a male Mandela fellow to speak louder. They don’t have any problems with projection. If we didn’t tell women to pipe down then maybe they wouldn’t be so mousey.

4. Don’t talk while someone is talking

Have you stood next to your mom while she is having a conversation and you just want to go home and she just won’t leave? When you tug at her to get her attention she’ll say, “Don’t interrupt me when I’m talking to people.” From there you get anxiety asking something in front of company even if it’s an emergency. When ladies are speaking during the classes, the gents will cut in loudly and disrupt her while she is making her point. If I had money for everytime I heard, “Wait, let her finish.” I’d retire by my 30th birthday (which is next month).

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5. Don’t talk back

Because we are leaders, opinions are shared boldly and then tempers flare. When this happens, the males argue louder and the women cower back into their shells and just retreat to keep the peace. Nah fam, go toe-to-toe educate these men. Let them know wassup. It’s a shame because the women have so much wisdom to share if you let them. Men’s voices will always be louder but keep at it til they take the base outta their tone.

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6. Don’t eavesdrop when people are talking

So this one is funny because we have to do a lot of networking during the fellowship. When you get to the event, people would have already formed little clusters and are in deep conversation while you are trying to join in. This makes me so anxious cause I wasn’t raised to join in conversations that are already in motion. Which sucks cause you really need to talk to a person that’s in that clique and you can’t lasso them out.

So there you have it, the manners that you were raised by could be holding you back as a woman. It’s time to get wild, wild, wild! Well mannered women indeed seldom make history and if you’re raising girls please ensure that they are brought up to raise hell. Good guys, in this case girls, do finish last.

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