Friday, July 29, 2011

The Curse of Silence

I am embarrassed to admit this, but there have been times in my life when I have remained silent when I should have been speaking my mind and defending the defenseless. It is one of the curses of being a lady, this compulsion to keep the peace and make sure that no one’s feelings get hurt even at the risk of your own silent dismay. However, the older I get the more that this entire concept seems nonsensical to me. Still, there are moments when I am torn between silence and speaking.  And as I try to discuss this with my husband, he looks at me as though I am a speaking a foreign language. It appears that men just do not have this same dilemma. If they have something to say, it generally just comes flying out of their mouths and they deal with the repercussions at a later time.

I was fairly shy as a young lady, yet I yearned desperately to speak up when I knew that what I was hearing with my ears did not resonate with my heart and mind. I would have intricate debates only in my brain, but was saddened that I could not lend language to these great thoughts. As a matter of fact, this is probably one of the greatest regrets of my life: Remaining mute when assertive dialogue was warranted.

This is something that woman all around the world struggle with and it speaks to the way that girls are just raised differently than boys. I would like to think that the tide has turned through the years, but I still know women who keep their most assertive selves silent. I see it in their eyes at coffee houses, in their body language at family reunions, and in the way that sink a bit deeper in their chair at a cocktail party as their gaze drops downward. It is a shame and it needs to stop. Through the support of other women, and men for that matter, who cheer her own with cries of, “You have a right to be heard” we can bring all of our sisters out of their silence and into a world a civil assertiveness and even debate.

When I finally was able to speak out I was in my 20s and it was as though a verbal and emotional tiger had been let out of a cage. When at last I summoned the nerve to speak out in support of gay rights, in favor reproductive rights or against domestic, I was like a verbal Tasmanian devil…a whirling dervish of rapid fire thoughts spewing from my mouth and wild hand gestures. Lady-like? I think not. Still, I was on the right pathway.

Through the years I learned to slowly gather my thoughts, speak in a language that my audience would understand and communicate with utter conviction.  Women often have a way of asserting themselves with a question mark at the end. As in, “Gee, I think the death penalty is just wrong…?” or “Gosh, in some cases abortion is just warranted…?”.  It is a skill that many of us cultivate through the years and once it is mastered, we can handle most anyone in a conversation regarding controversial topics.

As the challenges of our world become more immense, as those on the far right begin utilizing absurd scare tactics, and as the political issues hit closer to home, we all need to find our voice and speak out on these issues. This is where the power of sisterhood becomes integral as we boost the confidence of each other and come together with a common, cohesive message. It is just the lady-like thing to do.


  1. I recently tweeted w an abortion opponent who I ordinarily would have ignored as a troll. He wanted to argue me on what he saw as the main talking points of the pro-choice side. He seemed to think women saw abortion as insignificant as what to wear to a party! I spoke of my friend who developed a life threatening infection in the placenta, who very much WANTED the child she aborted. He didn't have a good retort for that. It turned out that he was biased because a woman he got pregnant aborted the child for what he believes are frivolous reasons. I don't suppose it occurred to him that she told him a lie about her reason for the abortion to get him to shut up and go away while she was dealing with her own feelings. I cannot believe that choosing to have an abortion is a decision any woman makes without first doing a lot of soul searching. I doubt I could ever change his mind, but I hope I gave him something new to think about.

  2. While I support a woman's right to choose only in cases of life threatening or rape, I do not agree with this. A woman's right to choose should be made in conjunction with the person who helped create the pregnancy, not just force their hand for money later. In any case a a man should not force a woman to have one just to get out of child support or raising a child. As drunk driving is to a possible crash sex leads to possible pregnancy. It isn't like we don't know this before doing but of course we choose to do it anyway doo to our own wants. Taking the easy way out is not something to be taken lightly. I would not trade my kids for anything even though I may have chosen the wrong time in my life to have them. My principle is youvhave your right to do what you want until it infringes on the right of another. This is a tricky issue though as to what someone considers another (life). Idont think it is necessessary to overturn Roe v Wade but open ones eyes to their morality. I was once asked if I should have aborted my autistic son if I had known then.....I paused for a minute and said it would have been easier but I look at him now and dispute the hardships wouldnt have traded him for anything. That choice was made together and neither should support an abortion if one wants the child. I'm not worried about overturning a law but remember your own morals. And for the guys, I don't excuse you either, you are part of it too, that means you don't get a free ride out of your decision. Be there for the woman during such a trying time and be supportive. Remember it goes both ways. Those are some of my thoughts...and wanted to express my opinion.