29 Mar Let Your Voice Be Heard
A few days ago, I was chatting with my aquarium maintenance guy about something really interesting. He witnessed me take a video of a mediocre painting job, send it to my contractor, voice my disapproval, and get him to come back to fix the work. He told me that his wife would never even conceive of doing something like that. He said that whenever his wife wants to get something redone or has a complaint about something, she always delegates it to him because she is unable to voice her opinion or disapproval.
That made me think. Most women are like that. There were countless moments in my life where I was like that. We prefer to be quiet and just take things with “silent dignity” because we are afraid of what people would think of us if we threw a stink. We have all been there before: a moment when we were unafraid and we voiced our opinion or put a boundary up, and we get called names (diva, B*tch, high-maintenance, etc.). These names hurt and they make you feel small. You do not want to hear these again so you end up silencing yourself because sometimes the consequence of speaking up is painful.
But over time, I realized that these names not only make you feel small, but they are there to KEEP YOU SMALL. First of all, name-calling, categorically, is not okay, and even more unacceptable when the names used cause to limit you.
There is a lot of research showing that women who are more assertive become prone to gender bias. Women who are more assertive are not only deemed unlikeable and incompetent, but they are also deemed unattractive and undeserving of respect, whereas in men, assertiveness is a desirable and attractive quality.
Being able to allow my voice to be heard is something that I constantly struggle with. Even more so, being an Asian female, where I have to think not only about gender stereotypes, but also try to navigate Asian cultural norms. I always worry about sounding stupid, uninformed, or uneducated, and constantly have to edit myself in my head. Oftentimes, I never speak up unless I am 100% sure about what I want to say and that it is unassailable and impeccable. But your truth is YOUR TRUTH and no other person can voice it or let it be known to the world. If we all spoke the same way and agreed on everything, the diversity that makes the world beautiful disappears.
Enabling your voice to be heard can empower others to speak out as well. Seeing another woman speak for herself and stand her ground gives every other woman the courage to do the same.
It is not easy. It is a daily practice, a daily struggle. But if we start small, over time, we can end up surprising even ourselves.
Lots of love,