Women — time to speak up!

By Caitlin Kelly

The editor in chief of the Financial Times, Rouala Khalaf, (probably the most male of the big newspapers — and boy are they male, especially at the very top) — recently implored more women to write to their letters page.

I was thrilled to have my letter published there, verbatim, a few months ago.

I can see why so few women do:

— It’s intimidating! Letters to the FT routinely arrive from Lords and CEOs and deans of elite universities. How dare we add our voices?!

— Fear of looking stupid or uninformed.

— Fear of professional reputational loss (see above!)

— Too busy working/parenting/caregiving

— Modesty…why listen to us?

As you know (cough!) I’m fine expressing my opinions publicly, here and on social media and in classrooms and at conferences and in letters pages, including those of The New York Times and Newsweek.

I was basically raised as a boy, to be smart and competitive, not sweet and submissive as so many girls and women still are, so this never scared me, even if maybe it should.

I am very careful on Twitter not to discuss the most divisive topics — abortion, guns, politics — in any detail. Women are trolled and harassed and get death and rape threats when they do. No thanks!

So, when and where should we speak up?

— Protest marches

— School board meetings

— City council/town hall meetings

— at industry conferences, either as a speaker, moderator or audience member

— your blog, and others’

— social media

— writing and publishing essays and op-eds

— voting

— call-in radio shows

— as a member of an organization or group or community

I know, it can feel scary to invite argument or ridicule or dismissal!

But the more we stay invisible and inaudible, the more we allow this behavior to dominate and silence us.

Now that the landmark abortion law Roe v. Wade is in danger, and so many U.S. states ready to ban abortion, it’s no time to sit back and shrug. Our many bodily rights to autonomy are being erased daily.

Our voices matter.

17 thoughts on “Women — time to speak up!

  1. It’s also important for men who support women to speak up. Not to overtake women’s voices, but to support the women who are speaking or are afraid to speak. To be their allies when some would like to silence their voices.

  2. David Holzman

    I’m tempted to write to Justices Jackson, Kagan, and Sotomayor to let them know I’m grateful to them for being on the Court even though it must be a drag with people like Alito and Clarence Thomas, not to mention Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.

    And as a guy I’ll say two things about abortion. I’ve been for abortion rights since I understood the issue, probably at 13

    And the only pregnancy I ever contributed to ended in abortion by mutual agreement. ~40 years later, I still feel it was the right decision.

      1. It does…they did not ban birth control (yes) but Plan B. The endless invasion of privacy and civil rights should scare the HELL out of every woman — and man with a conscience.

  3. Jan Jasper

    I am also increasingly scared because of what’s happening to this country. The fact that millions of people support Trump shows a level of stupidity and cruelty that I did not think Americans were capable of. I no longer read the news at length everyday, I just glance at it now because it is too depressing – and I don’t know what I can do. I used to financially support a lot of Democratic candidates, but at this point I think the most effective thing may be to support the few conscientous Republicans we have left – to help prevent a complete takeover of the party, I mean people like Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney, surprising to say I admire them. I think Common Cause is mounting an effort to protect poll workers, which would be a good thing to support

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