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Don’t Raise Your Hand, Raise Your Voice.

From a young age, we are told “If you have something to say, please raise your hand and wait for your turn.” This is good on many levels as it teaches us: patience and to respect others around us. But at what point does this stop being helpful? When we get to an age where we have learnt respect and patience, many of us are still too frightened to voice our opinions/interests without being told its okay to do so. We need our own voice and we need it to be heard. Especially females, as we have been told that “ladies are meant to be seen and not heard.” For many years I thought that was the decorum a female should have, until I realised, far too many people weren’t hearing me or they’d just pushed my views to the side, as they knew I wouldn’t say anything against it. It was only when I took to Social Media sites like Twitter and Tumblr, where I saw that I was allowed to have my own mind and that my thoughts were valued.

For females to feel hassle-free for having their own views, we must step out of the social norms that we have all began to accept as normal and fair to both sexes.

“We must decondition ourselves from 10,000 years of bad behaviour.” – Terence McKenna.

Females have been conditioned for many years that we should be apologetic for having a voice, a mind and sometimes even a soul. For too long we have had this need to be someone else’s idea of perfect: to look pretty and to shut up. Without realising females have been: “raised to believe that their being likeable is very important and that this ‘likeable’ trait is a specific thing. And that specific thing does not include showing anger or being aggressive or disagreeing to loudly.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

You ask most females why they do not raise their voice and put a person back in their place if needed, the response will mostly likely be “I didn’t want to come across as aggressive.” How come when a man is assertive, it is seen as an attractive trait something to respect but when a woman is assertive she is seen as a “b*tch”? This is an example of the social norm, which we, both sexes need to change. Personally I admire anyone, female or male that voices their opinion with ease and respect for others and their surroundings. I don’t know if many of you are aware but its 2015, so the thought that we are still fighting for equal rights socially, politically and economically is somewhat disturbing to me.

Never let anyone tell you, your opinions are not needed because they are needed; more than you know. You are worth so much and you should never let anyone belittle you. Next time someone tries to talk over you or patronises you, be polite but be assertive. Tell them, how they’ve made you feel due to their rudeness, and that you are worth the silences from everyone’s lips. So you can express yourself fully and feel fabulous because maybe your words have inspired someone. That’s all it takes to change someone’s mindset, one speech, one sentence, one word. Your word. Your voice is needed.

There are so many reasons why your voice is needed, why you deserve to be on in this earth. We need you. As a feminist, we need you, I need you. I desperately urge you to level up (not man up because gender binary is not acceptable.) and scream from the rooftops “I AM HERE, I’M NOT LEAVING UNTIL YOU LISTEN.” Take to social media sites, any conversations and any form of self-expression, and voice your views. Spread the word. One more voice, one more fighter, gets us one more step closer to equality.

Words by Holly J. Williamson // Photography by Juliette Bélanger.

© 2015 Reef Magazine


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