Women’s right to vote in England and the USA was hard fought and “won” in the early 1900’s. My mother was born in 1920, the year women won the vote in the USA. The way that my mother lived her life, you would never have guessed that she was a “free woman”.
As a young adult woman, my life was busy with family, husband, pets, house, job, volunteer time and the unexpected. One such overwhelming day, I wasn’t sure if I was going to get around to voting. My teenage daughter reminded me of the suffragettes and their long, arduous battle for women’s right to vote. That was it. I voted and never again considered if I had the time to exercise this right which is also a privilege.
I’ve been a “voiceless” woman and witnessed many others. It was through journal writing that I expressed my inner private world. And even there, I felt wrong for having thoughts that were considered “outside the box” of a woman’s entitlement. The first time that I ventured out to read my poetry in public, I heard my own voice echoed by other women in this writer’s circle. In our shared words, we reflected the restrictions and the timidity we felt in being a woman with a voice. Our true expression felt counter to either our familial, religious or societal upbringing. Writing poetry or prose that reflected our true thoughts and feelings was scary. Sharing it publicly felt risky. Yes, even living in America.
For your journal:
As a woman, have you felt restricted or curtailed in your self-expression? Has this changed for you? If so, how?
As a man, are there women in your life who seem to feel inhibited when it comes to self-expression (through writing or otherwise)? Have you been an encouraging force in their lives?