If you are a woman who has been criticised for standing up for herself – perhaps you have been accused of shouting or being aggressive, when all you were doing was speaking up – read on———
First off, remember we live in a society where male values are the ‘norm.’ It follows that women’s ways and women’s rhythm are often not understood or accepted – more, they are regularly maligned and sometimes punished. It’s important to stand up to this, and to recall that women’s energy is vital for the planet and in order for the world to come to some semblance of balance, harmony and peace. This can be a supportive and encouraging thought in times of need or doubt.
It has been recorded that, in situations where women and men are present, men generally speak more than women. Why is this? Have they really got more relevant things to say? That seems doubtful. Of course, given the above – the fact that we live in a patriarchal society and that often a man’s views, thoughts, opinions and ideas are valued more than those of a woman – it isn’t surprising women may be reluctant to speak up.
It’s vital to overcome this. It’s a challenge, it’s true. Particularly given facts like these – ‘Throughout history, women have been punished for talking too much or talking in the wrong way. Linguist Connie Eble lists physical punishments applied in colonial America: women were strapped to ducking stools and held underwater until they nearly drowned—-silenced by a cleft stick applied to their tongues.’ Deborah Tannen in ‘You just don’t understand me – Women and Men in Conversation.’ Given this historical background and the fact that although strictures on women speaking up may not be so extreme they still exist and it takes courage to do so. We must find that courage.
It is apparent that there is a lot of societal fear around women expressing themselves – as the reactions can be so extreme. But, as women, we do not have to buy in to this ‘Women must be seen and not heard’ syndrome which is so prevalent. We do not have to subscribe to the variable vocabulary used for women and men using the same or similar words; such as that men are speaking authoritatively whilst women are being ‘bossy’ ; that men are being decisive, whilst women are being aggressive or contradictory or shouting. This is male-speak.
Why it is important to speak up
- The world needs women’s energy. The Dalai Lama himself has averred that the world will be saved by women. That can’t happen unless women speak up and speak out.
- Sounding one’s unique note is good for the health, mental, physical, emotional and spiritual – that of the individual as well as of the planet. Suppressing one’s thoughts, needs and ideas is good for nobody.
- As more and more women take up the challenge and sound their note in the world, this will become the norm and the old ideas mentioned above will fade away. Yes, please!
How To Do This
- Listen to yourself – your needs, thoughts, ideas and opinions. If you don’t do so, why should anyone else? Give yourself credence. Women find it all too easy to put themselves down and negative self-talk. See the wider picture and become aware of how much harm this is doing not only to you but to the world and how much good you could do if you reverse this.
- Learn to like, love, cherish the sound of your own voice. Talk out loud to yourself sometimes in order to hear it; express your ideas and opinions. Get in touch with your own authentic voice. Have fun with it.
- When with others, practise speaking up just for the sake of it, to hear yourself. Voice that thought or opinion rather than just think it. Tell people if you do not like the way they have treated you. Take a stand for who you really are. Notice how good that feels. Do it some more!
- Take a course which will support you in speaking up. Singing, perhaps. Or a course in a new competency and talk about it to air your new knowledge. Or an Assertion Skills or Confidence-Building course.
If or when you feel fearful or nervous about speaking up, remember what a great opportunity we women have to make a difference in the world, simply by having the courage to come forward as our authentic selves. See the bigger picture and visualise the sort of world you want to live in and how exciting it is to play a part in creating that. We are all in this together and can support one another.