You are Allowed to Take Up Space: Part 2 MIND

Click here to read You are Allowed to Take Up Space: Part 1 BODY

2 Truths and 1 Lie

Your thoughts are valid and your opinions matter. 

Your voice is worthy of respect. 

All voices will be heard and considered. 

Unfortunately, it is so easy to spot the lie above. If you’re a women, you likely guessed it before you even read it. You probably already know the truth behind that lie as well: that it is shockingly, embarrassingly easy to ignore the voices of minorities.

When it comes to electronic content, there are several scenarios outside of listening to and valuing women’s voices.

If a dissenting woman is lucky, she will only be silenced by being ignored. Those uninterested in her opinion can just change the channel, close the tab, or turn the page to find significantly more male-written and male-centric content.

If that woman is less lucky, her opinions might get her trolled, threatened, doxxed, etc. The list is terrifying and endless. Just this past fall, Amnesty International published this piece, which outlines how easy it is for online abuse towards women to snowball.

As an opinionated woman, when I see this type of silencing happening, it scares me into my own retreat and silence. I don’t like to admit it but I generally feel ill equipped for aggressive debate. I know what I believe and I’m open to discussion, but too often women’s opinions become subjects of attack rather than rational discussion — a luxury most men don’t have to consider.

mad men board table
Fictional period piece or modern tableau?

Have you ever been a lone woman in a male dominated workplace?

I feel beyond fortunate to have worked in some wonderful, women-led organizations. At the same time, I’ve also experienced being one of maybe 2 or 3 women sitting around a boardroom table with a dozen older men. It’s not a great dynamic.

In these occasions I’ve observed a couple of outcomes:

  1. Women fall into the role of submissive contemplation, head nodding, and note-taking.
    • Side note: as an introvert, I actually commend and have deep respect for this valuable role when it is CHOSEN by the woman enacting it. What I’m talking about here is when it is assumed that the women will fall into this role because it’s where we are socialized to place her.
  2. A seasoned woman might raise her voice, interject, and interrupt to make herself heard by her male counterparts. 
    • What I’ve noticed in these cases is that the attitude doesn’t translate well into the realm of all-women conversations. Sometimes it’s obvious which women are used to competing with men for their voices to be heard because they will then use the same technique to trample other women.

So, it can be a problematic dynamic. For women, there’s the added responsibility of using their voices while also helping to amplify the voices of our sisters.

We Need to Raise Our Voices Together

0204_Empowered-Women_Grey-Unisex-Tee_grande
T-Shirt Goals. 

How to Be Heard

The unfortunate truth is that until women are respected as equals, their voices will continue to be ignored — But that doesn’t work for me. You have something worth saying, so here’s some techniques for being heard:

  1. Make eye contact.
    • It’s much more difficult to ignore someone when you’re looking at one another. It’s humanizing and it emphasizes connection.
  2. Speak deliberately. 
    • As a self-admitted mumbler, I’ve noticed that when I take my time and choose my words carefully, I’m taken more seriously. Jumping into a conversation with a knee-jerk exclamation is easy to bulldoze over. Thoughtful comments command attention.
  3. Take up space with your body. 
    • If you didn’t read Part 1, I encourage you to do so. Basically, if you use your body with confidence, it will help people to focus on what you’re saying. Taking up space is complex but you’re just as entitled to it as your male counterparts.

 

How do you make yourself heard?

Stay tuned for Part 3: You are Allowed to Take Up Space – STUFF

Design

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