Friday, 17 October 2014

'sounding like a girl'

It was a great blog post.
Beautifully written, filled with wise words on boundaries and work-life balance,
and the need to step back and say 'no' at times.
Know yourself.
Know your limits.
Out of courtesy to the blogger, who I respect hugely, and who is a well-known speaker and writer, I'm not going to name them, nor post a link.
Not that they need 'protected', but rather, this is not a post about calling them out: it's about calling out systems and structures that perpetuate misogyny in such a way that it is normalised to the point of subversive, unhelpful near-invisibility.

But back to the post...
In the midst of wise words, a phrase caught my eye,
took me out of the writer's intended train of thought and moved me along another parallel track.
The premise was the difficulty of saying no, and the added difficulty of doing such without a profusion of apologies,
of 'sounding like a girl.'
'Sounding like a girl'...
We've all heard variations of the '...like a girl' phrase:
cry
walk
run...like a girl.

As if there's something inherently wrong, bad, about the way girls - or women - do things.
And it's a phrase that's used at such a subconscious level that the inherent sexism and diminishing of women can be missed utterly.  One day I hope we can all find a more helpful analogy than the 'like a girl' trope which comes with such an implicit negativity regarding the voices of girls/ women.  Centuries upon centuries of thinking/ living/ working within the default framework of male hegemony have had some impact upon a possible female default response: to please, to be nice, to defer, not to make waves (and, should waves be created or anticipated, to apologise and apologise again).  Apologise for what, however?  For our right to exist, for self-determination, our right to express an opinion?
Is 'sounding like a girl' so dreadful?
And if not, what then, is it to 'sound like a girl?'

This:

or perhaps this:

Wouldn't it be awesome if 'sounding like a girl' was a thing to be celebrated?  I celebrate, rejoice, and give thanks for, voices of girls - young women - like Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.  May she be an inspiration for other girls and women to find and use their own voices without fear...and as they do so, make outdated analogies obsolete and more than a  little ridiculous.

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