Have you ever been part of a group discussion where you feel like no one gives you the attention and respect that you deserve? Have you ever encountered the feeling of being an outsider amongst your family and friends? Many individuals who struggle with the feeling of isolation are the ones who are most often unheard. Consequently, this also leads them towards believing they are disempowered, as the people who surround them pay no attention, whatsoever, to what they have to say.
At some point in their lives, women in various parts of the world have encountered the feeling of being robbed of their voices in various social contexts, such as corporate meetings, and family conversations, amongst other situations, where their comments and views are callously dismissed, regardless of them putting forth a valid point. In turn, this brings to the mind the following questions, are men exclusively to be blamed for this treatment? Are women even open to listening to other women speak and express themselves?
Fortunately, I have been surrounded by secure, confident and supportive ladies throughout the various stages of my life, and they have provided me with a safe space where my suggestions and opinions have been heard, appreciated and respected. Simultaneously, however, I have witnessed various instances where the views that are put forward and the points of concern that are raised, on specific topics by women, are easily shrugged off. Some may argue that we have come a long way since the former days and are now living in a modern and democratic society, provided that women and men can sit in the same room and hold discussions with each other. Unfortunately, I must say, it is not that easy to weed out patriarchy and its practices from the environment that surrounds us.
In today’s day and age, patriarchal practices are not simply restricted to fathers, brothers, and uncles, amongst various other male figures, publicly rejecting the female gender for having an opinion that the former disapprove of. Instead, patriarchy now exists and breathes amongst the female gender, itself, and it is being transmitted over the generations as women put other women down for all kinds of reasons. I have heard several of my friends complain about how they have put their faith in other women, thereby sharing their life’s most intimate moments with the said females, only to have this information thrown back into their faces, as it is either used against them, or turned into a hot topic to be gossiped about. Therefore, the sad reality of our society is that it is tough for women to trust their fellow female companions.
But then I have also heard some of my colleges and friends praise their female friends for their constant support. One of my college believes that it is easier for women to be able to connect with other women because they might have shared similar experiences, therefore have strong bonding reasons. So, after hearing several different yet similar opinions from several friends and colleges, I think there are many factors that influence people and how they interpret other people’s views and way of living life.
Nowadays, social networking sites have replaced face-to-face discussions, as most interactions take place on online platforms. For the majority of people, the said platform provides them with an adequate space to express themselves – their views and opinions, included – through literature, music, and art, to name a few outlets. Moreover, this online refuge can be a means for women to make one another feel noticed. All they have to do is lend a listening ear to each other, on any given platform, to what other women around them are wishing to express.
Now, what do I mean when I use the term, ‘Listening?’ I am referring to two parties, who are giving each other their attention, wholly, whilst one member is speaking, and also to those who lend each other kind compliments for their respective work, intelligence, talents, and make the receiving party believe that they are worthy of love and respect. Most importantly, however, I am referring to the cardinal rule that one must never discourage another from pursuing their dream, or goal, which gives them happiness and of never misusing a person’s trust. During any given conversation, a foolproof confidence booster is to simply tell another woman, “I like how your thought process works, and I agree with what you’re saying.” By doing so, you are making them feel understood and respected, as a result of which they will begin to converse with far greater confidence, and fewer inhibitions.
Then again, the skill of being able to listen to another, particularly in the modern age that we live in – which is dominated by popularity and numbers – is challenging to come by. All of us have a lot to say, which entails the risk of not paying heed to what others are saying around us, so as to be heard ourselves. Regardless of how conscious and mindful we are of this action, we may be guilty of it, too. Therefore, we must all ask ourselves: is there something that someone is struggling to speak to me about, simply because they are failing to grasp my attention?
Furthermore, we cannot overlook the fact that women as well as men, to an extent, are vulnerable to sexism based on all possible criteria. Therefore, there is a possibility that many of us, who may be proud of our listening abilities, reserve this skill for specific voices, such as those which we deem to be significant, or appropriate in comparison to those of the others. In turn, this is a trait that we must change as well. Let’s not just hear what the influential voices have to say. Instead, let’s also pay attention to those who go unheard because their words could quite possibly benefit them and the others in society if only someone lends them an ear.
In conclusion, listening to other women does not only mean giving them an opportunity to speak up. It also refers to being open minded enough that we allow our own ideologies to be challenged by theirs. After all, evolution is an ongoing process and if we wish to develop our world for the better, then we will need to try to enhance our understanding on an individual level. “You can always tell who the strong women are. They are the ones you see building one another up, instead of tearing each down.”
With Gratitude & Love
From Our Founder Caroline Mc Guinness