How comfortable are you speaking up for yourself?
One of the challenges women face is feeling comfortable speaking up for what they want. It seems so simple but in reality it can be very difficult, given that many of us were raised in a women-do-not-speak-out time and place. I was constantly chided for talking as a child and teen. My mother told me men wouldn’t like a woman who spoke her mind.
Tuesday, a female senator was banned from speaking at a confirmation hearing. Is it a coincidence that she’s female? Hard to say. She’s certainly one of the most vocal female politicians in America.
Just recently I shared my article, Don’t Tell Us to Calm Down on Google+ and a Mr. John Smith called me the C–t word. Twice. It was a quick sharp, nasty outburst that shook me a bit. I used his comment to reinforce one of the points of my article–some men are uncomfortable with women who speak out. To put it mildly.
And many men are not. We can’t group all men, or all women in one category. That’s my disclaimer…moving on.
Now, more than ever, women need to learn to speak up for what they want, what they see as right or wrong, and to feel comfortable taking up space. In my work that means confronting intimacy and aging. In the political agenda it means not being afraid to advocate for things that feel important for families, healthcare, equality, the environment and whatever else speaks strongly to your heart.
Women in their 50’s and 60’s face the double burden of being labeled “old” at the same time that they’re dismissed as sexual beings. It can feel like society discounts us on several fronts. It’s up to each of us to find our comfort level in using our voice. Or to feel a little discomfort and push through it.
In those moments of feeling uncomfortable there is an opportunity to grow. To take up more space and feel good about what we’re doing. Because staying small and putting up with discomfort just so someone else isn’t made uncomfortable by our voice is not going to work. That troll on Google+ thought he was taking me down a notch. I don’t know what happened in his life to make him resent outspoken, intelligent women but that’s not my problem.
When someone reacts strongly to your request or opinion the problem is theirs. Not yours. It’s a reaction to their own particular issues. When we decide to “not rock the boat” it’s often detrimental to us. Not them. It’s important to remember that when we face resistance to our voices.
Ask yourself, where do I need to be bolder?
- Is it in the bedroom? For instance, your partner is doing that thing you don’t really enjoy but you’ve been silent for so long that he assumes you like it. You don’t want to hurt his feelings, yet it’s so annoying that it takes you completely out of the mood.
- Is it that condescending person you see several times week who calls you deary in a voice that clearly indicates they see you as “old”?
- Is it a family member asking you not to rock the boat at the family dinner because he/she feels uncomfortable with your point of view?
- Is it your fear of alienating a reader or client who may not agree with your point of view?
Are you silencing yourself every time you look in the mirror? Telling yourself you’re too old, too fat, not sex enough, too wrinkly……
Right now. Today. In the politics of 2017, in a world where women’s role in society is being reshaped. When sex is being discussed more openly than ever. It is time for you to use your voice. By indicating what you like and by saying what doesn’t suit you. By choosing what your present reality could look like. “I want this, not this.” “I prefer to…..”
What do you have to lose?
A lot actually. Each time you remain silent you risk not having a more pleasurable experience. You allow yourself to be spoken down to or dismissed. You get pushed into a box, not of your own design. You get labeled and treated in ways that you know aren’t acceptable. It feels just…yucky.
Our silence erodes us. It makes us small. It keeps us stuck in old patterns and ever narrowing choices. The alternative is to feel free to say what you think, to ask for what you want, and add your voice to the conversation. This expands us. It allows us to take control of our lives in a way that is fulfilling and satisfying.
What do you need to say, right now?
If you missed it earlier you might enjoy Finding Our Voice: How it Benefits Our Relationships and Sex Lives