Woman are still remarkably voiceless in our society. The loudest voices: the media; advertising; politics; performing arts; are still dominated by men. White men.
Those of us who speak too much, too loudly or in non-traditional arenas are punished in ways blatant and insidious. I have lost count of the amount of times I have been told, as a child and as a grown woman, to keep my voice down, or shut up, or have been spoken over, or interrupted. And this happens in the workplace, socially, on dates and even in my own family.
I used to pride myself on my bolshie response to this repression.
But tonight, I feel I have little fight left in me. Only enough to post this poem.
Warm blood trickled from my nose after he hit me across the face. Annoyed, he went tad-poling with my little sister. I lay on the grass, recovering; plotting ways of getting back into his affections.
I should not have spoken to him that way.
She blanked me once, on the bus. I felt the hot flush of embarrassment seep out of my face. I’d been talking too loudly to a friend. She couldn’t bear that this load of commuting strangers should know that this raucous girl was her daughter.
I should have kept my voice down.
He farewelled me from my teaching contract. After six months of working tirelessly for students. Never taking a sick day. Starting groups and encouraging the most disenfranchised. All he could do was joke about how I could be heard coming down the corridor.
I should have modulated my speech. And my ideas.
It was always thus. I have lived my life being too loud. Talking too much. Speaking out of turn.
Little good it has done me. I sit here alone. Unemployed. Broke. Broken. What once was anger has putrefied into a deadening fatigue.
I lie down.
And all I can hear is the sound of my own voice, ringing in my ears.