Untaming My Wild: Why Women Need to Use Our Voices

As I kiss my sleeping daughter on the cheek, I notice how she’s changing.  Tucked up in her bed, she is no longer the baby I cradled or the toddler that I pushed on the swing.  She is a young girl with a big voice and thankfully, she’s not afraid to use it.

She uses it to tell me when I’m wrong.

She uses it to tell me when she feels uneasy.

She uses it to tell me what she needs.

She has a voice and so she uses it.  Simple, no?

Last month, Taylor Swift won her court case against David Mueller, a DJ who groped her during a meet-and-greet.  Her claim was a symbolic $1 - a particularly revealing statement against female harassment.  Yet why is such a statement needed?  

As a woman in 2017, I am all too familiar with having a voice and deciding not to use it and it would seem that I'm not alone, as even megastar Swift has noticed the permeating silence of women too, pledging financial donations to various organisations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves.  Quite simply, she said, "my hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard."

The fact is though, that this high-profile court case is not uncommon in its subject-matter.  Assault against women, harassment against women, the silencing of women...these are all ingrained into our culture, our neighbourhoods and our collective subconscious...this is happening closer to home than we might realise.

My own voice and I are often like secret lovers…communicating with subtlety and minimalism as opposed to grandeur or even straightforward confidence.

You see, I learnt to soften my edges so that they didn’t grate against the patriarchy around me, leaving me bloodied and bruised...

I learnt early that boys were physically stronger than I was and I didn’t let myself forget it.

I learnt to turn the creepy bus driver’s flirting into light-hearted banter on the way home from school, at age 13.

I learnt to speed up my pace when walking home at dusk, making sure that my phone was accessible at all times.

I learnt not to lose my shit when I got really mad; I learnt to tame my wild.

I learnt to smile sweetly in the face of adversity, danger, sexism, discomfort and unease.

I learnt to lower my pitch in executive meetings, as I went head to head with male superiors twice my age.

I learnt to soften, to facilitate, to bend, to morph and to accept.

I learnt to hold my tongue...but isn’t it time to speak out?

Isn’t it time to raise our daughters to embrace their voices and not sacrifice their volume?

Isn’t it time that we, as women, take the space that is rightfully ours in this world?

To risk our soft reputations by baring our sharp edges, to pull out our claws when we need to, instead of hiding them behind polished baby pink hues.

For my daughter, I will use my voice.  And in doing so, I will show her that it’s ok for her to use hers.  More than that; it is necessary.

Because without speaking up and out and doing so with conviction, there can simply be no change to this norm that we’ve all become accustomed to.  And that’s one risk that I will not stand by and silently smile about through gritted teeth.

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