Last year, during the US presidential election campaign, Hillary Clinton was the subject of many critiques, but one in particular was quite disconcerting. Many people – and let’s face it, most of them being men – from anonymous trolls lurking in the dark corners of the internet to political pundits, said her voice is shrill, that her demeanor is somehow a bit off, that she sounds impersonal.
Many of the women watching from the sidelines saw once again how society treats any woman who dares to share her opinions in public. So it’s no surprise someone took courage to ask another feminist icon, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the following:
We’ve talked a lot recently about voices, especially female voices, being irritating, or being interrupted, or being too shrill, or how to tone down your voice, or how to be a woman in a profession that’s dominated by men…. Do you have any strategic advice for those of us who are trying to convey our voices?
Ruth Bader Ginsburg answered,“You should speak in your own voice.”
US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the second female judge named to the highest American court, and she too gets interrupted by male colleagues, criticized for her voice or the way she speaks. She firmly believes women should speak up, use their voice, express their opinions, so men and society at large finally understand that “women speak in different voices, and hold different views, just as men do.”
The importance of using your voice
Women represent half of the world’s population. It would be only natural to see women equally represented in boardrooms, governments, the workforce, etc. But that is not what is happening. In too many parts of the world, women are raised in a masculine-orientated culture in which women’s opinions are second to men’s. We’re still fighting and lobbying for equal pay even in the most economically advanced nations.
Tabby Biddle is a Women’s Leadership Coach, Leadership Ambassador with Take The Lead, and an excellent TEDx speaker and writer. As one of the first TSC guest experts, she shared with us some amazing insights into how a woman can transform herself into a Feminine Leader. She also talked about why we need to use our voices. When the women’s voices are missing at the tables of leadership, what they care about isn’t taken into consideration.
She thinks there is an urgent need for the female voice, sharing the truth of our lives. In the absence of the voices of women, public policy will keep reflecting the masculine priorities, points of view, aspirations, and fears. Those points of view aren’t necessarily the ones to help women thrive, to support them. When women aren’t thriving, all of society suffers. Women are the ‘mothers’ of society. When society isn’t benefiting from their talents, skills, and wisdom, it is affected – inequality increases, there’s a compassion deficit.
In a mini-masterclass, Tabby and Murielle Marie, our Founder, discussed how women can start using their voices for change. Here are the 4 tips Tabby shared with us, which will be useful for all of the members of our global sisterhood network and those outside of our circle who want to become feminine leaders:
#1 Identify the cause closest to your heart
What is it that you see on the news that really makes you angry? What is it that you wish wouldn’t happen anymore in the world? For some women, answering these questions is really easy, for others, it might be a little more difficult. Usually, the issue you see with the world also has a correspondent in your own life. Take for example sexual harassment. You can be enraged by the news and even have personally experienced it.
You need to identify the issue that really digs into your flesh because you’ll need that fire to sustain your efforts for change. If it’s not a cause you passionately believe in, you’ll be quickly derailed as soon as the first obstacle appears.
#2 Identify what your personal utopia would look like
How would the world look like after making the issue you want to solve history? Take your time to figure this one out, meditate, explore, and don’t pass any self-judgment. Whatever utopia you have in your mind, you should own it.
#3 Decide how you’ll communicate your vision
Once you have identified the big issue and the utopia, you have an intention. Using your voice with a clear intention will make your message more powerful.
To use your voice, you need to know what are your natural skills and talents. How do you best communicate? How do you feel more comfortable expressing yourself? Is it through public speaking? Writing? Teaching? Painting? Photography? Social media? Use your voice in a way that helps you leverage your skills and talents.
Using your voice to get your message out there is just one way of generating change, but you can also reach out to your local representatives involved in public policy, run for elected office, lobby, adopt a new positioning for your company, etc.
#4 Start collaborating with other women
Amplify the power of the female voice by supporting other women and letting them have your back, joining their networks and accepting them into yours. Figure out how their utopia looks like and figure out if you can intertwine your visions and work together for generating change.
Tabby Biddle also believes that you need to own your vision and speak your truth even if it’s scary. As you’ll start using your voice, you’ll start wondering if you’re doing enough, if you’re contributing to change… You might also start hearing people say negative thing about you and your message. Don’t let self-doubt kick you off your path. Don’t let others blow your candle with their ignorance. They’ll all shut up when more women will speak up, when more of us will use their voices. That’s when they’ll understand, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, that women “women speak in different voices, and hold different views, just as men do.” Own your message and do what you can to spread it.
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