Mouthy Women

This morning, Dana and I made it to yoga for the first time in two weeks. My kids have been sick, her kids have been sick, and the dang time changed. You know what I’m saying right? One of those weeks.

So what to write about?

We just passed the one year anniversary of Full of Graces….Almost 500 honest to goodness readers…we just had our first comment criticism and throw down, which made us very excited because you must be doing something right if you can’t keep everyone happy…it’s women’s history month, you know we have things to say about that…and it’s Lent, a very holy and sacred time of the year.

Too many choices, too many choices! So today we’re going to punt, to ourselves and a post that originally appeared on Hallelujah Highway in 2012.

Do you know Glennon, from Momastery?

She’s been talking lately about a woman named Brene Brown, a research professor from Texas who has spent ten years researching shame and courage. She posted a pic of a page of Brown’s new book Daring Greatly. This page talked about the social rules women are expected to follow, summed up here: “Basically, we are expected to stay as small, sweet and quiet as possible”.

Glennon was almost smothered by these rules. So many women can relate to that feeling. Trying to stuff themselves into some mold and feeling inadequate when they don’t quite make it.

But her post made me think about other women, the ones who never followed the rules, or at least knew the rules were crap from the beginning. They never stayed small, sweet and quiet. They opened their mouths and said what they felt, thought and meant. Or, they looked small and sweet, but opened their mouths and roared like lions.

I have always been a mouthy woman.

Maybe because I was six feet tall since I was twelve, I did not feel constrained by the rules. The small and quiet ship sailed fairly early in my life, and I was not on it.

It could also be that in my family, children were seen and heard. We were encouraged to talk and the adults listened to us. I knew my opinion was important very early in my life. I saw my dad honor my mom’s opinion, and my grandfathers honor my grandmothers’. Not once in my life have I ever struggled to voice my opinion. More often, my struggle is to discern when my opinion should be voiced, or how to express it appropriately.

Maybe it was sports. My success was not tied to how I looked or dressed, but how hard I played. And I controlled that. In college, boys flocked to us, drawn by our strength, health, intelligence.  They were the men who didn’t need us to be quiet or small. Most of us married men like this—men who are delighted at our “take on the world” approach to life.

But they are the exception. Most people are extremely uncomfortable with the Mouthy Woman. Some men don’t like her because she seems threatening, like she’s reaching out of her province and into theirs. See how male politicians expressed Cave Man opinions in this last election. See women at the highest levels of politics in this country and how they are treated. See that we have not had a female president. Yet.

More distressing to me, though, is how women turn on the Mouthy Woman. Why is that? Why do women eat their own? Why do we poke those who do the very thing we all say we wish we were strong enough to do?

Just recently, a friend of mine told me that my very presence demands honesty. It took me a minute to see the whole truth of this statement: it’s a compliment for sure; but also a question, a “How can you be so sure that you are right?”; and a request to go easy—honesty seems like a hard standard to meet.

I do hold myself to a standard of truth. I believe in truth. Lies are unpredictable and messy. Truth is simple. Truth is a survival skill.

Glennon would agree. She is with those of you who are still struggling to find your truth, to silence your shame, to open your mouths. I know you can do it. You can find and live your truth. I don’t know any secrets. I just made a choice. You can make it, too. Start by telling yourself the truth. Then tell others the truth. Make a commitment to never lie. This doesn’t mean you have to speak all your truths all the time. Sometimes it’s enough that you know the truth. But never speak a lie. Not to yourself, not to your partner, not to your kids, not to your friends. Make truth a habit.

To my mouthy sisters, to the ones who were never concerned with being small and quiet in the first place, or have learned to speak the truth: Keep talking. Talk for your daughters and grand-daughters, so they will know that truth is safe. Talk for your sons, so they will know the value of an honest woman. Talk for those less fortunate, talk for those who cannot talk.

And listen to them all. Show them the respect of being heard. Grow a future that believes in itself and the honesty of what it knows. Grow a future built on a mighty mountain of truth.

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9 thoughts on “Mouthy Women

  1. Mouthy Women can be a mighty force for good. Or not. As one who has experienced both ends of that stick. Which, I too, carry. My mama always said I got the whole “iron fist in a velvet glove” thing alll wrong. 😉

    All of that said, I agree (shocker!). Truth is vital. We must not confuse submission with weakness. Sometimes, though, I’m learning that the velvet needs to reach beyond skin deep. Then again, sometimes, the iron has to poke on through.

    Happy Anniversary Jen & Dana!

    • Super true. My issue with the denegrating concept of the Mouthy Woman is that somehow women don’t know truth, and aren’t thoughtful or capable of speaking that truth. On the flipside is the equally disturbing idea that our men don’t want or need truth from us. And Mouthy is very different from b*tchy, which is never ok. But I have found that when I calmly and respectfully and quietly speak up, that is still dismissed as b*tchy.

      We have to conquer the idea that women need and give truth with a dose of dissemination. No shadow. Stand all the way in the light!

  2. What about women who deliberately insult other women publicly? For whatever it is they are trying to gain…dominance control power by verbally harming another woman. What about them?

    • Well they using their powers for evil instead of good. We stand for love and life and God. We would never stand for hate or hurt. That said, I will admit that I have not always used my words for good. When you have so many words at your fingers, it’s easy and tempting to wield them like a sword. Look at some incredibly intelligent women on the political stage–Sarah Palin is an excellent example. I was excited to see her, for about five minutes. And then I realized she was aiming to kill. We can’t get behind that. As women we have to hold each other to a higher standard.

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