TOD: When a Woman Stays Silent to Avoid Threatening a Man's Masculinity

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Photo: UN Women.

Topic of the Day: Staying Silent

Last Wednesday, I met with friends at a local cabaret club. As we caught up and laughed over theatre and life experiences, one friend recounted the tale of when she found a bee in her salad while on a group date at a restaurant.

It was Homecoming several years ago, and she and her friends were around 16 years old — not kids, but not adults, just beginning to navigate their way in the “real world”.

Disgusted by the dead critter in her food, my friend wanted to make the waitress take the salad back, but her girlfriends talked her into not speaking out about it. Their reasoning was that she was on a date and guys don’t like women who “complain”. It would look bad on her, they said; to demand a proper salad with no extra critters in it would embarrass the guy. Men don’t like women who complain, they said.

Men don’t like to be embarrassed by a woman. Think of what the man prefers and what is best for him. Don’t be demanding. Keep your mouth shut.Β  Women have heard this all too often, starting when we are very young. Girls are enculturated from childhood to put their own wishes and needs secondary to a guy’s. This means girls grow into women who do not feel empowered to speak up for themselves, or to speak out against sexism, date rape, and domestic violence.

This need to keep women quiet to preserve insecure men’s delicate feelings can be sourced to at least the New Testament of the Bible: “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet,” (I Timothy 2:12). No wonder such misogyny still pervades our patriarchal society and culture.

But this is the 21st century. We are past all that misogyny … or we should be. Part of me can’t believe this thinking still exists, that women should be silent just so men don’t have to deal with a woman who knows what she wants and is brave enough to demand it.

Ladies, know what you want. Speak out. Demand your desires. Live out loud.

trish

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