March 7, 2012

Speaking up about silencing women

Don't miss these excellent posts by fellow coaches Denise Graveline and Marion Chapsal about the long and insidious history of attempting to silence women who speak out (or just speak) by calling them whores and sluts.

Denise's post "How Rush Limbaugh is helping me celebrate Women's History Month" delivers a thorough overview of this tradition, and Marion's post, A Public Man? A Powerful Guy! A Public Woman? A Prostitute! briefly touches on the recent instances of whore-labeling of Sandra Fluke and Elizabeth Warren because of their activism.

A snippet from Denise's post:

"In our world and heritage, it's assumed that women can be silenced, because that has been more the norm than the exception in our history. Sometimes, I think that even women forget that the women who led the effort to secure votes for women in the United States did so after they were forbidden to speak at an international anti-slavery conference to which they were delegates. To them, it was the right to speak that was worth fighting for; the vote was a way to ensure it. To women around the world in oppressive regimes, the idea of public speaking may not even be a dream, let alone a reality, and yet it's a power any woman has in her own throat."

This topic ties in nicely and in an unfortunate way with my 12for12 challenge this month: Speak Up. There are a lot of reasons we don't speak up when we should. Luckily, most of us will not be called a slut or a whore by our coworkers for speaking our opinion in a meeting. But for a lot of women (and men) there is still a fear of getting shut down, having your ideas stolen, or not being taken seriously. Join my 12 Speaking Challenges for 2012 program and build your confidence muscles by taking on monthly challenges like Speak Up.

Final excerpt from Denise: "Every time you hear someone say that women speak more than men do, you are hearing a well-worn echo of the 'too much' that led to persecuting women for speaking in days of yore. It's a tamer, toned-down way to shame you into being silent. Remind yourself that you're entitled to speaking your own views, thoughts, opinions and dreams. Keep on speaking, and reinforce other women who speak, or want to do so. Perhaps then the most consistent part of the history of women and public speaking won't be the use of the word 'whore.'"

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