Speak up or stay quiet?

Women are supposed to be quiet. Women are supposed to be polite. Women are supposed to be delicate creatures to be seen and not heard. These are just a few of the misconceptions people have about women that can be very damaging to women and society. Growing up, I was taught the importance of being a lady, but did not realize what that could convey to others. While my mother always told me to speak my mind, I realized at a young age that the girls that spoke their minds were viewed negatively. Teachers and students thought they were being bossy or rude when they were behaving like the boys.

Many women struggle with assertion because it is a quality that is more acceptable in men. If a woman is outspoken or bold in her approach to a situation or person, she is at risk of being viewed as less of a lady. This is a problem when they are put in situations where it is very important that they assert their opinions and feelings, such as the workplace.

On July 26, Utah nurse, Alex Wubbels, was arrested when she refused to let police take blood from an unconscious patient. Her arrest sparked outrage because she was following the correct legal protocol for her job and was put in handcuffs. However, how would this situation have been different if she had not spoken up? If this was the case, Wubbels could have lost her job for going against policy.

Because more women are choosing to be in careers that are traditionally male dominated, there is an increased need for assertiveness to ensure that these women are taken seriously in their profession. One step is for women to speak up. They should feel more comfortable making requests and asking questions. While some may feel uncomfortable asking their boss about a promotion, this can open a conversation that can lead to career advancement. It is also important to assume responsibility for emotions. Using “I” statements shows that they are not blaming anyone else for how they feel. The next step is to be ready for the consequences of assertion.

Women are showing their assertion through feminism and following celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Lady Gaga, who have spoken their minds on controversial subjects. This country is more welcoming to this behavior than others. Gauri Lankesh, an Indian journalist, was sentenced to prison for a story about a local leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party last year. On the evening of September 5, she was found dead on her porch from gun shots. Although it is unknown the reason for her murder, she was known to be outspoken.

While there are still grave consequences for assertion, it is still an important skill for women to work on. It can help women move forward in both their professional and personal lives. It truly is a skill to communicate thoughts, ideas, and opinions without being disrespectful. The absence of this skill can keep women from advancing further in their lives, which counteracts with what many women are working very hard toward.