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
— 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.