“Why are you so bossy?”
“You’re too loud. Use your inside voice.”
“You don’t have to get so worked up over everything. Learn to take a joke.”
“Wow, you’re really over opinionated for a woman.”
“Come on, you’re just looking for an argument.”
“Calm down, you don’t always need to have an opinion.”
These are the words I have been told my whole life, used to silence me. They were said to effectively end my voice or cut me down for my passions. I have received them from men, but I have also received them from women. That, I am “too much to handle”. That I should, “know my place as a woman”. That, “men don’t want to marry a girl who feels the need to always stick her nose into politics”. I’ve struggled and I’ve hidden my passions because of these words, but not any longer.
I am my father’s daughter. He raised me to have an opinion and to always have the knowledge to back it up. My father pushed me to work hard for everything I wanted, and he always reminded me that “hitting like a girl” was a good thing.
Of course he taught me how to be compassionate, empathetic, comfortable with my emotions and even suffered through Pride & Prejudice with me, but despite all of that he showed me what real passion looked like. Something that I would later find out, was not what the world wanted to see women be.
“When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch.” – Bette Davis
Throughout middle school and high school I found myself in many situations of conflict. I used to tell myself that It was all my fault, that I liked to argue too much and that I needed to just shut up about the beliefs that were burning inside me. What I have come to realize is that I didn’t like to argue with people much during my adolescent years; I just wanted my voice to be heard. I wanted the chance to share what I had been learning or voice my convictions, but because I was a girl the people around me didn’t know how to handle my passions. I had to raise my voice because no one would listen. So I was told that I was too much for people and that I need to calm down; I regret deeply that eventually did.
It was not until my sophomore year of college that I found my voice again. After suffering through a very controlling and manipulating relationship, I realize just how weak I had become and how much I was letting myself be pushed down. I switched my major from Education to Political Science; Something that I had always wanted to do but had told myself I shouldn’t pursue due to the fear of being called ‘bossy’ or ‘too opinionated’, like in high school.
That fear quickly became true.
What I have realized from my past year in my degree plan, is that society sees opinionated men as intelligent, engaged, decisive, holding the characteristics of a leader. But that it does not see opinionated women as the same. A few expressions of my opinion on Facebook, and I have had both men and woman jumping to put me back in my place. I practically started World War III by posting a sexist remark I received from a man about, “women being created to do the job that men can’t”, and had my Christianity called into question for stating that I am a feminist.
Ladies, if that fact that calling ourselves a feminist is chastised, mocked and deemed as sinful is not enough of an indicator that we still live in a patriarchal world, I don’t know what is.
When I have told people that I am a liberal their response is instantly, “well of course you are. You’re young and a woman”. That by somehow me having a vagina and two X chromosomes makes me too intellectually impaired to make a decision on a political party. I’ve been reprimanded for saying that I believe rape is an issue we need to solve at the source, teaching men that it is not okay, instead of just trying to help women avoid it. Being accused of always “playing the victim”.
When people ask my plans for my career I am met with questions of, “how do you expect to have kids and a job in politics? Are you seriously going to ask your husband to stay home? Won’t he feel less than you?’. They then turn to my male friends and begin to ask them about which programs they want to pursue and even encouraged them to go further in their studies.
When society meets an opinionated woman, I have seen that they do not know how to handle her. They shame her for being a feminist and speaking out for equal rights. They feel the need to try to make her seem ignorant in her beliefs. They tell her that she just needs to lighten up and not be so driven all the time. They attempt to take away the beauty of a woman; her strength, her voice, her ambition and her heart.
Despite all of this, I have decided to not stop speaking out for what i’m passionate about. To not back down from calling myself a feminist and encouraging other women to fight for equal rights as well. I’ve found that when I am being my loudest, it allows other women to feel comfortable to speak out as well. The more I vocalizing the need for women being seen as equals, the more women I have come in contact with that, like me, felt shamed for so long when they were attempting to show the world who they really are.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of the most encouraging men, who support me and want to work just as hard to remove gender roles. But I would have never met these people if I hadn’t stopped worrying what other’s would say about me and used my loud, opinionated and feisty voice. We waste so much of our potential when we try to confirm to societal standards and hide who we truly are.
Yes, people might tell me I’m bossy, but bossy people get things done. They are driven and want to work their hardest for what they want.
Yes, people tell me I’m ‘too loud’, but the loudest people can speak for those who have softer voices.
I do not say any of this to throw myself a pity party, the challenges as a woman have been hard but I would not trade the lessons I’ve learned about strength, desires, humility, and accepting myself. I write to let other girls know they are not alone.
When someone tells you to ‘calm down’ about an issue; DON’T.
When someone tells you to “learn to take a joke” about something you don’t find funny; SAY NO.
When someone tells you, you’re “too loud”; BE LOUDER.
We should always try to be loving when speaking to other’s, but loving does not mean silent. Love is passionate, it speaks fiercely and it is not afraid of what other’s think.
So if you’re one of those girls like me; If you’ve been told any of those phrases from above and feel ashamed for how you were made, know that there are women out there just like you raising hell and being ‘too loud’. We will be your voice while you find yours again; and when you do find it, USE IT. You’ll give freedom to another woman just like yourself to do the same.
“Cautious, careful people always casting about to preserve their reputation or social standards never can bring about reform. Those who are really in earnest are willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathies with despised ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.” —Susan B. Anthony
So I have decided to be ‘too loud’. I’m going to continue to raise my voice in a discussion until, as a women, I’m not called ‘too loud’ or ‘too opinionated’.
Until I’m seen as just someone who has opinions and passions and is willing to argue for them.
I want finish with a video of Emma Watson giving her UN Women Goodwill Ambassador speech a few years ago, which always brings me to tears.
“If not me, who?
If not now, when?”
So if you need me, I’ll be the ‘too loud’ girl always yelling about feminism,