A Letter To All Women Who Have Been Told To Quieten Down, Speak Softer and Be Less Angry

November 29, 2013
By

By Mohadesa Najumi

Dedicated to my Mother, Kateryna, Hala, Kim, Gabby and @buonasahra

 quote 2 yellow

Dear woman who has been told to quieten down, speak softer and be less angry all of her life,

You thought if you spoke less, and in a softer voice he wouldn’t notice the anger oozing out of your lungs in the form of words.

You feel like fire in an ocean.

Most days you question yourself. Interrogate yourself as if you are a felon on trial for having a big mouth.

You question whether you are too loud, too opinionated and too damn angry.

You have been taught to accommodate, absorb, and the back of your neck aches sometimes from nodding so much.

Every question you ask in class begins with “sorry.”

You are always made to feel like you are infringing with your opinions, as if your words are a burden to bear.

I know you. I know who you are, how you feel, and what goes through your intricate mind. I am you.

You’ve been told that your anger is counter-productive. That you’re just wasting your energies and that (this part hurts the most) you have too much passion.

You don’t understand how anyone could have too much passion.

You wonder if your brother, male colleagues, and friends are told that they are too passionate.

You recall your mother telling you to speak less while your brother dominated the dinner table discussion. They called him “confident” and you“fiery.” You wondered why he had to be ocean, and you had to be the fire.

You’ve practiced speaking softly in the mirror, but even then you didn’t recognize yourself in the reflection and hated yourself for trying to change.

This way you’ll find a man. You said. No one wants a girl who’s all fire. You told yourself.

You promised yourself that you wouldn’t get so angry so quickly.

You fixed a vapid smile on your face, but even your cat wasn’t convinced of it.

You made goals that you’d exhale and re-think before you said something that sounds angry. It never worked.

One day you met a man who smiled when you raised your voice and watched your tongue as it rolled around inside your mouth as though he was watching artwork. He loved your fire.

But, even he questioned your loudness. Asked you to be less rough around his mother and friends. He shouts at you now and then. But, you tell yourself that you deserve it.

No one can contain your passion, anger, and spirit. It is yours and it adorns you. You hate having to stifle it for anyone.

The worst part about being less angry is all the hard work it would take. Anger is a permanent tenant in your body. All the years of having to suppress your sexuality for others, the doubts about your body, the pressure from everyone around you to be a lesser version of yourself. How can you not be angry?

Were you expected to watch with glistening eyes as your father planted bombshells in the heart of your mother? The shrapnel hit you hard and you cried every time you saw your mother wince from the injury.

Your teacher, your congregation leader, your uncle, they all said you were too much to handle. How will she possibly hold down a husband with that kind of attitude? They mocked. You just stood there thinking about how you would prove them all wrong.

All the arguments with men who insist that you are overreacting.

The countless times you’ve been called “dramatic.

The exclusion. The loneliness. The isolation.

But, your spirit, your fire, your anger always prevails.

To the woman who has been told to quieten down, speak softer and be less angry all of her life, you are my heart in human form. I wouldn’t want to be in a world where you don’t exist.

_______________________________________

Lily AllenMohadesa Najumi is a writer, politics enthusiast and intersectional feminist living and studying in London, England. Contact her on mohadesan@gmail.com and follow her blog here.

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18 Responses to A Letter To All Women Who Have Been Told To Quieten Down, Speak Softer and Be Less Angry

    • latasha on December 22, 2013 at 11:50 am

      THANK YOU!!!!?..I SAY IT LOUD TOO BE HEARD OVER THA MOUNTAINS UP TO THE HEAVENS…I HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT ALL MY LIFE I AM NOW 38YRS OLD!…I STILL BURN WITH THAT FIRE@PASSION IN ANY FORM/..WHAT I HAVE BEEN TOLD IS I’M (CRAZY..RANTING)!!…..SO NOW I WRITE POEMS/POETRY!!!!!…..I’M SPEAKING LOUDER THAN EVER @ I CONTINUE WIT IT ALL…THEN @ NOW!!…..READING THAT MESSAGE(HIGHTEN THA FIRE/PASSION…AND DAMMIT AIN’T NO COOLING OFF!!!!….I THANK YOU FOR SPEAKING TO US ALL..

  1. Fred Murray on November 29, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Bless you for saying what is silent too often!

  2. […] Originally published at the Feminist Wire […]

  3. Paula Trietsch Chaney on November 30, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    Here in Texas, little girls of my generation were constantly admonished to be sweet, and being sweet meant never discussing anything controversial, never being confrontational and never contradicting fiction with fact, even when it seemed like a physical explosion was imminent from the pressure of holding the knowledge of all the stupid that surrounds us inside. Just like the comedian Ron White says, I may have the right to remain silent, but I seldom have the ability. One of the greatest blessings of aging is the disconnection of the insecure part of my psyche that cared what other people thought of me.

  4. Courtney Brandabur on December 1, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    THIS. IS. EVERYTHING.

    Thank you <3

  5. anthon on December 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Angry men and angry women are equally unattractive.

    People always on the edge, always fuming inside, always ready to snap back at you, taking every comment not 100% in line with their opinion as a personal attack etc. There is nothing good about that al all, nothing “passionate”.

    Just sad anger.

    Your article associates patronising attitudes some men have towards intelligent, opiniated women able to express their views and challenge men’s owns with anger being a positive attribute to one’s character and being a sign of passion.

    It is deeply misguided and you would undoubtedly find that you’ll achieve more in your life without being “angry”. This goes both for men and women.

    • Tiffany on December 8, 2013 at 11:50 pm

      you are missing the point. the LAST thing on a woman’s mind when she is told to quiet down and be less angry is how attractive she is. Who in their right mind would want to attract a jerk who constantly invalidates her and her opinions, as you have done in your reply? Anger cannot and should not be ignored or stuffed down or pushed aside: it means an injustice is being done and the person knows it. Personally, I find it sad that the majority of men who come into forums where women are speaking of their pain in the world today, get all huffy as if the injustice is being done on THEM. We are not looking for men to lose their rights as humans, simply their rights to demolish OTHER humans, namely the women they have squashed as large bullies for so many years.

    • Fred Murray on December 9, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      Anthon. I fully agree with Tiffany. I have seen it done to women where the man in the situation who is clearly wrong to everyone witnessing the event, including the offender, pats his sister, girlfriend, wife, etc and says ” There, there,dear” as if it excused his behaviour. It usually means that if she does not give in publicly that she will get a beating privately.

      Your woman or any woman may not have the same opinion as you, but they have as much right as you to have that opinion.
      You are speaking down to Mohadesa as if she is a dog or a small not very smart child. I guess that, by your written behaviour that you think because you are stronger, more violent and have gonads that you are better in some way.

      Do not believe it buster!!!
      If you cannot acknowledge that women have the right to be offended when verbally or physically attacked, then you are a very poor imitation of a man.
      I wish you well in your search for the perfect inflatable woman. They do not talk back!!!

  6. […] A Letter To All Women Who Have Been Told To Quieten Down, Speak Softer and Be Less Angry – The…. […]

  7. Tiffany on December 8, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    Thank you for what you have written. I live in the U.S. but still feel very angry as I feel I am constantly being told to quiet down and be less angry, mostly by men, it makes me furious. I have passion. I have opinions. I detest the unfriendly-to-females world we live in and am often afraid to speak out about it. When I do, people look at me like I’m crazy and I find very little support. So frustrating.

  8. EllaBlue on December 13, 2013 at 3:41 am

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for articulating everything I have been feeling ALL MY DAMN LIFE so well.

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!

  9. Link Love (2013-12-14) | Becky's Kaleidoscope on December 14, 2013 at 7:32 am

    […] “You question whether you are too loud, too opinionated and too damn angry. You have been taught to accommodate, absorb, and the back of your neck aches sometimes from nodding so much. Every question you ask in class begins with “sorry.” You are always made to feel like you are infringing with your opinions, as if your words are a burden to bear. I know you. I know who you are, how you feel, and what goes through your intricate mind. I am you. You’ve been told that your anger is counter-productive. That you’re just wasting your energies and that (this part hurts the most) you have too much passion. You don’t understand how anyone could have too much passion.” A Letter To All Women Who Have Been Told To Quieten Down, Speak Softer and Be Less Angry – The… […]

  10. Betty on December 14, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Thank you for this. Just…thank you for saying this, for writing this, for sharing this.

  11. Sarah G. on December 19, 2013 at 4:36 am

    Ahhhhh Mohadesa!!!! Thank “YOU” for existing. This is honestly the story of my life until I was 21. I began to think as you described in your letter since I was six. Sometimes, I still do. But, in a way sometimes people don’t understand why I am so quiet and so afraid. My fear is so intense that to this day, now I am 22, I am still afraid of being hit or hurt in some form for speaking, getting angry, or standing up for what I believe in. Sometimes, I was even afraid to literally move at school until I was told to move. Teachers, professors, classmates, and just people in general would in some way convey how they were disgusted by my behavior, my race, my hair, and as you said “my having too much passion”; especially when I could identify with other people like me in my local and global communities and could not stand to see them hurt in albeit different or similar forms as I was hurt. But it gets hard. However, your letter lets me know that there are still women out there that care for the well-being of other fellow women. You say that you would not want to live in a world without a women like me in the world. I echo those words back to YOU. You and your words, give me the strength, the hope, and the energy to continue to fight for the freedom of myself and for those around me. Thank you soooo much Mohadesa!!!!Thank you!!!

    • Fred Murray on December 19, 2013 at 10:45 am

      Bless you Sarah
      There are many men who know that you are an equal, who will love and negotiate with you rather than do our best to dominate you with physical strength. Keep on growing!!! Keep on demanding equality in the schoolrooms, the street, the workplace, and particularly the home. You are a being of love and light as am I and all who are on this lovely planet. The men who want a quiet slave rather than a partner are scared little boys inside, no matter what they show to the world. They are so scared that they are feel that they are unable to keep up to an intelligent forthright woman. And so they abuse, lie, cheat and steal from the person who could help them to feel whole. Therefore, keep on practicing strength and love. You will find someone who will value you for the being of light that you are!!!Show your light to the world as a strong woman who does not accept anything but equality, love and respect!
      Namaste

  12. bikerella on December 22, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    to this day my favorite line said to me “you talk too much” and this is after i was asked my opinion about something or i was personally attacked by someone who did not share my beliefs and principles and i said a piece of my mind to these people. i have been told by many a man i was in a relationship with to “simmer down”, to “not take everything to offense” and to “let the big neon pink elephant in the room slide”. to add insult to injury, the cherry on top, “why so serious, smile!” while i mind my own business. the day i stop hearing that i am too loud or to soften the way i speak, after i or someone else was mistreated or abused, that will be the day i know i have died inside. thank you for sharing your words, thought i was alone there for a second.

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