The Silencing of Women
"Dear God, please help me to keep my mouth shut until I know what I'm talking about."
Those were the words my dad used to say to me, every time I went to tell a story or express my thoughts on any subject when I was a little girl. Not every woman has had a silencing so explicit and complete as I had as a young girl, but make no mistake, most of us did.
It may have been more indirect for you. Maybe you were told that "good girls are quiet," or you were praised for your pretty curls instead of your mind. Perhaps, the teacher in first grade always called on the boy sitting next to you, instead of you. There are so many ways that girls are taught at a young age that what they say doesn't matter. More often than not, it is insidiously subtle. Often it is so inconspicuous that when we look back on our life, we don't recognize when the silencing happened.
Silencing feels like quiet desperation stuck in your throat. It is a sense of helplessness. It comes in the shape of a relationship where we are repeatedly told that we are "wrong" somehow. It comes in our social circles when others put us down for our grey hair or weight, and instead of speaking up on our behalf, we go on a diet or color our hair again. Silencing happens at work when we are overlooked for promotions, earn less, and are chastised for having to be at home with a sick child. It happens every time we stop expressing ourselves and swallow all that we mean to say.
I have been feeling the energy of silent screams for months now. I have been feeling them in my family, my community, and within myself. I see women that have so much wisdom to share, stay silent for fear of judgment. I see women acquiesce their power to men. I have seen women judge other women and call them names. I have experienced women turn on each other for the validation of men.
Being unable to tell our truth is a living death. Silence is no longer golden. Being outspoken is a form of power that all too many girls had taken away. The right to speak is the most significant wealth given. Silence is the vastness of all words left unspoken, opinions unexpressed, abuse erased, and truth unheard.
Being unable to tell your story is a slow death. If you have been raped and you can't tell anyone, if your partner abuses you and no-one believes you, if you call out for help and nobody comes to your aide, if you tell someone you are in pain, and they ignore you, is it possible to feel whole and alive?
Stories are our life. They are the sum of our experiences and our history. We can create stories to trap ourselves or to free ourselves. But freedom always requires the telling of our stories. It is in speaking out that we free ourselves from shame, abuse, and trauma. The right to speak our truth is the hallmark of a free person.
Having a voice is crucial. Being able to speak up, to be heard and to be believed is a vital part of membership in a family, friendships, and society. Discovering our voice and learning how to project it out into the world will ultimately create the kind of freedom that will break down barriers, heal the wounded and create the kind of world our girls can grow up in feeling powerful.
Excavating our authentic voice and learning to express it in powerful, truthful ways, will not only free ourselves but will pave the way for our daughters to express their feminine power. If you feel that you have been silenced and are ready to claim your truth and create lasting change within yourself and your community, I would love to speak with you!