To be a woman is to be daring every single day of the week.
When I was a senior in college I made a bad joke at a party.
I don't know what it was (I make a lot of jokes and college was a long time ago).
What I do remember is that room of the party erupted into laughter and that for a second, just an instant, I felt good, like I'd done something worthwhile.
Then she said it.
"How dare you?"
We will call her Abby.
Abby was a freshman, someone who hung out in the same circles I did. We did work study together. I thought she was a phoney who tried too hard.
I felt like she was always looking for her chance to climb the social ladder.
In our little world that meant unseating me, I guess, and this was her moment.
I blinked at her. "What did you say?"
She repeated herself: "I said, 'how dare you?'"
She wasn't joking. She was serious. Something I said had shocked and appalled her and she was using this moment to belittle me, to make me feel ashamed, and to make sure everybody in that room saw it.
This moment ruined our burgeoning friendship, and it changed the way I thought of that little phrase forever.
But not in the way you might expect.
To this day when someone asks, "how dare you?" it has the opposite effect on me than they probably intended it to.
Instead of reeling and retreating to lick my wounds, I feel rage grow inside me. It only makes me stronger. Here's why.
I'm a woman in a world that is largely run by men.
Voting, taking birth control, asking for a raise, walking down a street alone at night, these are all things that require me to dare daily.
When you try to castigate me for laughing too loudly, for farting in public, for rolling my eyes at an authority figure by asking me how I dare, you're undermining my entire experience as a woman on the planet earth.
If you ask me how I dare, I will say that I dare because I have to in order to survive.
It's fun, casual, playful setting where I get to really interact with the people who read this site on another level entirely. I love it.
On our last show, a man wrote in asking, "How do you single women dare think it is appropriate to be friends with married men?"
The question hit me directly in the stomach.
It was the worst of the "how dare you" remarks I read in quite a while.
I had a hard time framing exactly why it made me so angry on the show, and I've been thinking about it ever since.
I think a huge part of it is what I described above. When you ask a woman "how dare you?", you're denying knowledge of how hard it is to be a woman. How strong we have to be.
Another part of what made me so angry was the assumption that a woman is sex on legs.
Do women have sex lives? Sure. Of course.
But does that mean that every man they meet is going to become an object of sexual desire? No.
There are many other types relationships than sexual ones.
There are relationships where we do not have a desire to have sex with someone at all. You know, when they are a friend, a confidant.
From the minute we slip our arms into our first training bras, women lead a life where we must be daring.
If we weren't, there wouldn't be a woman about to step into The White House.
You can't go through life terrified that you're going to insult someone, or slight someone and perpetually damage your relationships.
Because life isn't about making sure everybody likes you, it's about making sure you are actively contributing to the world, making a difference in the lives of people around you, and forming relationships that are the spirit of what it means to be human.
So when they ask "how dare you?", just smile and move right along, knowing you're doing exactly what you should be doing.