Feminism 101 : Our Silence is Too Loud

Across America, London, Melbourne and other international locations last week, there were coordinated marches for equality, women’s rights and a retaliation over the results of the American election.

Our silence has become too loud. Our inaction has caused a severe reaction. And now we must stand up.

So these issues have been on my mind and I am sure yours. I wanted to speak out, write something, but I thought:

Who am I to talk about racial relations in my white privilege?

Who am I to talk about the down-trodden female in my University-educated, bourgeois existence?

Who am I to talk about freedom when I don’t understand the hardships in countries not as lucky as mine?

Who am I to talk about choice and rights in an era where I take voting for granted, have a smorgasbord of career and education available to me and in a time where my body is my own?

Who am I to talk about how things should be when I have always known a semblance of equality? Where there is no longer “the man of the house” mentality and it is perfectly acceptable for me to leave my children at home and work?

Who am I, as an accepted immigrant of this country, to talk about other immigrants and how they should be treated?

Who am I to talk about any of this stuff when I am not an expert? When some of these statements may feel wrong to you? May contain information that is not well-researched, referenced and mapped out?

Who am I to talk when I just don’t know everything about these subjects?

But who am I not to? 

Our silence, our head in the sand approach to these issues, is over.

Who am I, in my white privilege, not to talk about racial relations and help bring about a change in the world that makes people understand that we are all human, we are all deserving and we are all the damn same.

As much as people like to separate people, we aren’t able to be separated. Our bodies are cleverly designed to adapt to the environment we live in. Instead of standing in awe and appreciation at how humans can be so diversely beautiful, we segregate and differentiate until some people forget that we are all the same.

We all love and want to be loved. We all hurt just the same. We are all born and we all die.

Who am I, experiencing the joy of femininity, not to help others feel the same way? Do I just close my eyes to pay inequality for those to whom it matters the most? Forget about promotions we miss because of our gender, because of our pre-disposition to giving birth, of putting ambitions on hold for loved ones. Short-sighted companies believing that there is only one way to do things. Maybe it’s not the glass ceilings stopping females to reach positions of power but our unwillingness to play the game the way that it is being played. We are opting out of playing, instead of fighting to change the rules.

America is obviously tired of the game of politics and instead selected a non-conformist, a wild card, someone who is not playing properly.

It is a fertile time to shake-up the status quo and a wake-up call.

If I use a blanket statement and say that men are ruling the world – do we like the way it is being run? Wars and Terrorism are escalating, crime is increasing, economies failing. Men have traditionally taken the protector role but it is time for us to stand up and protect ourselves. Is it time for us to change the way politics is run? The way business is run? The way conflicts are resolved?

Who am I to talk about Freedom in the lucky country? I am not being bombed. I am not in a position where society will cast me out if I am sexually abused. I am not in fear of my Government.But…..as grateful as I am for where and the way I live – as a female, I do not feel safe. I cannot walk the streets at night like a man does. I hurry to my parked car. I use a buddy system on a night out with the girls. I cannot sleep alone at night without questioning my safety. Males contribute three times more crime than females. In my fear-driven scenarios, it is not a woman that is scaring me.

So its unfortunate,but I am not truly free and I do experience the inequality of being female. Change is needed. My voice is valid. I am silencing my doubts by writing this piece.

Countries are shouting out for more nurturing, people are hurting and when they are hurt they want to retaliate. We don’t need to take over from men, we need to work with them in partnership to bring balance to the way our world is working. At the moment you don’t see a lot of feminine characteristics in the power roles that women occupy. From power suits to the long hours and tough attitudes, I see the way powerful women have conformed themselves to play in the male-dominated arena.

But we are pushing back.

Oprah Winfrey, in her earlier career, was all about that suit and would put on guests and themes of shows she didn’t agree with, but as her sense of power within herself grew she got herself a voice, and a company, and started doing things her own way. She threw out the structure – of her wardrobe, the format of her show and the way she thought things needed to be for success.

Arianna Huffington just wrote a book on sleep. She tried things to do things the accepted way – working every hour she could just to keep up and surviving on four hours sleep. Until she couldn’t do it any longer and changed the way she did things to reflect who she really wanted to be – and the success still flowed.

This photo of Hilary Clinton in the 1990’s shows clearly her change in style so that she would be taken seriously. Were the people of American not ready for their first lady President or uncomfortable with the fact that there would be a “First Gentleman” for the first time in history?

And now lets talk about that arena.

As Theodore Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena…”

And let’s believe when he says man, he also means woman.

We cannot complain, belittle, judge or cut down those who have gone before us. Those who have taken what they have been given and worked with it, doing the best they could with the knowledge that they had. If we are not prepared to get in the arena then we should be silenced. We cannot stand by and let the world revolve around us, solely focusing on our own selves, our own lives.

We need to be the change.

Starting small we need to cut out our judgement of other women because it is keeping our entire gender small. We are too scared to act out, to speak out, to write….for fear of being judged. Social media is becoming a glaring example of how women are getting it wrong.

So I am definitely not saying that women are the white knights set to ride in and take over the world.

We are not ready.

We are too busy taking selfies to commit to service.

Concerned about our diets and not the dying.

Our culture pushing us towards materialism and not activism. 

But there are some who are ready and they will teach us. But we need to listen. We need to start thinking about something other than ourselves.

But ultimately we need to believe that we are worthy. That we are enough. That we don’t need to be experts to be heard. Because there are centuries of cultural education telling us woman have little value in anything other than keeping the house and the kids clean. I like to imagine us cleaning house in another way…like at the White House.

We will move forward into an era in which women will start lifting each other up. Supporting each other. Where kindness extends not only to our friends and family but to strangers, other human beings who need our support.

Just as there is no great divide between race, there is no divide between men and women. Once again we are the same and should be in awe of our creator for the differences in our natures that is intended to compliment and spread love throughout the world.

Let us stand for those who cannot stand for themselves.

Let us do these things with love.

Let us rise.


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