art by Midge Blitz
“Shhh, you’re going to annoy people.”
“Okay, jeez, stop being so bossy!”
“Can you be quiet for a little bit?”
The whole world, it seems, wants me to stop talking.
My parent, my teachers, my peers, even.
The world has always wanted girls to be quiet.
They’ve always wanted us to laugh, cry, or suffer, in silence.
In society, it really does seem like a woman’s voice it worth less, that it is easily cut off or ignored.
Rape victims are ignored. Calling yourself a feminist makes you radical, it’s “dangerous”. Female athletes are forgotten, news articles about them mention their husbands but not their names. Complaining about catcalling is not acceptable, we need to “accept the compliment”.
I’m lucky, that in my life I don’t experience such total extremes.
But I can still feel the world wanting me to shut up.
I can feel it in the looks I get when I raise my hand in class, again. When I take charge in anything. When I strike up conversations with people I’ve just met.
In my mom’s face, when she tells me that I need to be softer, that girls shouldn’t be that loud.
And I won’t lie and say it doesn’t hurt me.
It hurts because this is telling me that because I’m not reserved, or shy, or quiet, that there is something wrong with me.
But I’m learning, slowly, that this isn’t true.
And I’ve decided to stop apologizing for this.
Because I’m loud.
It’s a part of me, a part of who I am.
And yeah, people don’t want girls to be loud and outspoken, especially one that looks like me.
There’s a perception of an ideal woman, I feel, built up by the media, and by our own ideas as a society.
I see that an ideal woman is agreeable. I don’t think she argues with her Libertarian friend about gun control and abortion laws after math class.
(I got him to understand that he’s not allowed to control a woman’s body, so I count that as a win.)
I see that an ideal woman isn’t meant to be a leader, that having those kinds of traits makes me bossy.
I see that an ideal woman is quiet.
And in an attempt to fit those specifications, I’m supposed to learn to be quiet.
And yeah, there’s a time and place to outspoken, and I understand that there are some limits, that I shouldn’t be rude to people in speaking my mind.
But I won’t be silenced completely.
After all, where would we be, if loud women hadn’t been there? If the suffragettes had sat meekly in their home the way society wanted? If all those female writers and artists hadn’t yelled to the world that they had story that needed to be shared? If those female scientists hadn’t exclaimed that they knew the answer?
And now, I’m learning how to ignore the world.
I’ve learned, now, that when people try to silence me from being who I am, if I keep being loud, I can’t hear them anymore.
Aayushi is South Asian teenager in high school in America. She can often be found crying over a book or T.V. show. She also writes, sometimes. Her friends call her Wind. You can find her a tumblr at @pevxnsie.
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