“Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History”

Say what you think.

My mom bought me this picture. It’s still sitting on a window ledge in my meditation room. I will hang it up today.

My mother is one of my biggest heroes, and this gift is just one example of why. Despite “staying mum” in public when it comes to discussing politics or things controversial, she thinks deeply about the world around her and always encouraged me to stand up for what I believe. She also told me that I didn’t have to tell anyone anything personal if they asked, and I am happy she said that, too. I recalled her advice when a recruiter for a new job asked me about my previous salary, and I refused to tell them. I still got hired.

That being said, I don’t want to be afraid to share my opinion that could benefit others…

I only recently told her about this blog, and she admitted that she was leery to read it for fear of what I had divulged about my childhood hardships. My mom regrets things from our past, but I don’t blame her. I don’t blame anyone, actually. I told her that I am only blessed for all that happened to me because it makes me the person I am today. Adversity creates character, she had once told me, and I agree. That being said, I will not store away my feelings about my past, and I will no longer hide them from the world at large. I want to come out of my shell and state boldly what I think and feel.

I went to a screening of the film Miss Representation last week. It’s a documentary about the media’s objectification of women, and particularly how women of power or status get media attention based on what they wear, not what they say. At one point, they term modern, female film heroes as “fighting fuck toys”. Despite the fact that women are now coming into their own, there is a backlash to represent women as firstly being sexy, and secondly as being brave. It’s our job as women (and men) to correct that archetype: we are all human beings with drive and ambition, and we all have something important to say. Women should not have to candy coat themselves or their words to fit into some male fantasy (or what the media trains men to think is their fantasy).

But I diverge: the reason I bring up this film is because in the discussion thereafter, I raised my hand to share my opinion. I sometimes get ahead of myself because I do boldly speak up, but sometimes without thinking my statement through. I then spend the rest of the day worrying about what people thought of my comments, or if people disagreed. I am a bold woman, but I still have the instinct to keep the peace and make everyone feel happy. That, in my humble opinion, is what women have been raised to do. To keep the peace while the men say what they want without suffering the pang of regret.

That’s not to say that men mustn’t also be careful about what they say in this society. Just open a newspaper and you’ll see countless men being ostracized for their statements. But I firmly believe that the debate platform is still not equal; the state-your-opinion pendulum is still swinging in favour of the male gender. Men are raised to firstly be strong. Women are raised to firstly be a living doll (not always, but generally speaking).

I call out to all women of this world to think strong and speak strong. If you have something to say, realise that it will not, in most cases, be well-received by all ears. Don’t regret what you say, and if you do say something that you realise is wrong, correct yourself and move on. We all have a right to be wrong! If we can’t admit that, how do we evolve as a species? This especially goes for men…men seem to have a really tough time, in politics particularly, admitting they are wrong. Now that social media has planted itself permanently in our lives, reaction to our statements are immediate and coming from multiple sources. Putting up one controversial video can go viral in a matter of minutes. But I say good! This will only teach us to more intelligently dialogue with each other, male or female.

I’m reading a book called Art & Fear: The Perils and Joys of Art Making. This quote below highlights the idea that your art may not always be well-received, but that this is one of the beauties of making art. It is a statement about yourself and your perception of the world. Make art from your heart and soul; speak from your heart and soul.

“In following the path of your heart, the chances are that your work will not be understandable to others….wanting to be understood is a basic need – an affirmation of the humanity you share with everyone around you. The risk is fearsome: in making your real work you hand the audience the power to deny the understanding  you seek; you hand them the power to say, “you’re not like us; you’re weird; you’re crazy”. And admittedly, there’s always a chance they may be right – your work may provide clear evidence that you are different, that you are alone. After all, artists themselves rarely serve as role models for normalcy.”

Let women and men be role models for what they truly believe. Let us all make our statements boldly, but with humility and willingness to then hear the bold statements in return to ours. Let us recognise when we have misspoke, and let us continue to evolve humanity.

One comment

  1. Pingback: Listen to your elders (but don’t live for them) | evolution

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