Are you outspoken, softly spoken, well spoken........? When I was younger, I believed it to be rude to express my thoughts, needs, or opinions directly. I always agreed publicly or kept my mouth shut. If asked about a preference, I simply stated that it didn't matter. Whatever there was the most of or what the others didn't want was good enough for me.

I was a quiet student who often knew the answers but who did not raise her hand in fear of "showing off".  It's not nice to draw attention to one's self. As I grew older, I found it difficult to participate in undergraduate discussions because my voice was weak and "girly." It is difficult to break into a discussion when one is  uncertain. I preferred to write essays or exams where I was more comfortable showing my knowledge.

In the 1950's and 1960's, it seemed to be important for a girl to "know one's place" and "not to overstep".  The attitudes were better suited to life as a wife who would "retire" after the meal than a full participant in the world

At some time, probably the 1970's, the world changed. Fewer women went from father's house to husband's house. Sexual freedom meant that a young woman's "no" had to mean no. Many women were no longer satisfied with a "supporting role" at home or at work. Employment was a greater investment for a woman whose supporting role might include supporting herself and her children (or even her husband/partner!)

I did not develop these skills as a younger woman. I did not know how to let a man know that I really wasn't interested. I did not know that I could be the "boss" of me and of others without being bossy. But bossy isn't a bad word except that it's only applied to girls. I had a hard time keeping control of a class because my voice was tremulous. Don't ever put me in charge of a gym class. Even the whistle
is wimpy.

Sometimes a woman "wears the pants in the family" because it's a better fit. Some men are nurturing, some women not so much...

Younger women have often been spared the admonishments to be "softly spoken." My daughter, strong, single, self-supporting, represents the grievances and concerns of food service workers to the management of a multi-national corporation. She is articulate and "well-spoken" but can joke about her "resting bitch face".

I am still learning...Sometimes my voice is weak, sometimes strident, sometimes when I didn't say something, I'm passive aggressive!

I'm developing self awareness, I'm learning and frankly at age 66, "I've come a long way, Baby!"


  1. Brava! Such a great post -- so timely.

    1. It is so important that girls grow up with loud, strong voices that are listened to.


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