I’m a fan of Grey’s Anatomy, a show run by Shonda Rhimes. She is a powerhouse in the industry, and I love “hearing” her through her shows. She is strong, beautiful, loving—not claiming perfection or denying flaws—and definitely not afraid to speak up.
Indulge me as I talk a little Grey’s to begin my thoughts today. In last week’s episode, poor Meredith undergoes yet another devastating turn of events (hey—it’s in its 12th season…gotta keep the drama coming) that leaves her unable to communicate. The message of the story, though, is loud and clear (I mean, you’d have to be really dense since the voiceover narration tells you specifically).
First, did you know that women’s voices are harder for men to understand? Yep. It’s in the episode, and I verified it. Apparently, since women’s voices are “more complex,” it goes to a part of the brain that takes men longer to decipher. When men hear other men, though, easy peasy. Hmmm…interesting, no?
It is while sharing this factoid that Meredith encourages women to speak up—because really getting heard is harder for women. Of course, there are a LOT of other factors as to why women are not always listened to with the same level of attention that men are, but hey—knowledge is power, right?
In my experience, women in my age bracket especially, have a hard time “admitting” that they are feminists. We grew up in a time where feminists were often called “men haters” and Phyllis Schlafly and Pat Buchanan played major roles in the shaping of women’s (lack of) rights.
I can recall as a young woman that if I spoke up too strongly about equal rights, I was on my own. I learned to tone it down if I wanted to fit in and not be seen as “one of them.” And in doing so, I lost some of my voice.
Of course, as time went on, I learned that it wasn’t worth tamping down my beliefs to fit in. Being a square peg in a round hole was something I’d had plenty of experience with over time, and I grew to speak up even if I was the lone wolf—or at least in a very small pack. Years of working for a conservative church while being a liberal democrat certainly honed my skills!
So, when Megyn Kelly said she didn’t like the word “feminist” on Colbert’s The Late Show the other night, I thought, “Really? Here we still are…” She said that she feels the word is alienating because she feels the movement is “co-opted by some people who don’t want you in their club unless you see certain women’s issues the way they see them.”
She finds it unattractive.
And…scene? Oh, no. she went on to say that her motto is to be so good that they can’t ignore you. By working harder, she made it to where she is today. I’m glad she’s a hard worker, but if that’s all it takes according to her, then any woman who doesn’t “make it” hasn’t worked hard enough. Sigh.
Well, I do consider myself a feminist, and I will tell you that part of being the kind of feminist I am is to empower women to be who they want to be even if I don’t agree with them. That’s my club. So Megyn Kelly can share her beliefs, and I can grimace and say “Another case of a woman who’s made it but doesn’t want to offend the boys’ club.”
See? Both of us can respectfully coexist.
I do not believe that every time a woman doesn’t get a job or promotion it is because she is a woman…but I do believe it happens. Just like it happens with race, sexual orientation, religion, and other distinguishers.
The old just work harder ”solution” merely takes any responsibility off of the power holders and keeps it solely on those striving to be treated fairly.
Thankfully, this generation has women like Malala Yousafzai and Emma Watson who stand up to say we are ALL better when we are treated fairly and equally. Malala received the Nobel Prize for being an education activist who believes that “free, safe, quality education is the right of every girl.” Emma’s creation of the HeForShe organization encourages women and men to work for a better world for all. Go Hermione!
Why, that’s not unattractive at all.
I hope and pray it is this generation who can once and for all show that fighting for equality doesn’t mean putting anyone else down, but rather lifting us all up. Wouldn’t that be grand?
By the end of Grey’s, Meredith again finds her voice, and with a renewed sense of perspective she even better appreciates the ability to use it. Knowing what it was like not to have a voice makes it all the more valued when she does.
All of us should find our voice and strive to be heard.
Imagine what could happen if we all listened up.
All photos are my own or used with permission.
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