Letter From A Leader (09/07/2018)

Posted 3:00 PM

By Hillary Gordon


   Throughout my speech career, female leaders have been labeled “bossy.” When a woman has given advice, there has often been someone complaining about how picky she was. I have watched captains of the speech team struggle to remain calm in order to avoid being labeled an “emotional” woman. Women are stuck in a strange in-between: pressured to act “like a man” while warned against being as bold as one.

    At meets, males tend to score better than females. In interpretation events, the bar is lowered dramatically for men because their performance becomes a protest to gender roles. It is impressive if a man cries, while a woman’s tears are viewed as overused. It is impressive if a man can be passionate, while it is no surprise if a woman is emotional. It is impressive if a man can talk about his struggles, but women are just playing the woman card. The same behavior that causes women to be viewed as being “whiny” makes men captivating.

   Because a woman’s emotions have been used as evidence for how they are lesser, many of my female peers have made themselves calm and quiet. Now, as one of the captains of the speech team, I have abandoned trying to contain my opinions. I will not hold my tongue to be respected. I will not feign being detached.


    As a short young woman, it is difficult to look up at my male coach and give him advice, but we constantly need to motivate each other to improve. Despite my symbiotic relationship with Mr. Arvin, I have come to expect resistance when providing feedback to male peers. It is extremely frustrating that directing and teaching men always feels like I am overstepping my boundaries. However, I need to disregard the ingrained idea that men are more knowledgeable and capable than I am in order to disrupt the pattern of men being criticized less harshly than women.

    It is sad that I rarely talk about these types of struggles. I should feel comfortable with openly expressing my point of view, but I know that being passionate about misogyny will prove the point that women are melodramatic. Guys will have another excuse to roll their eyes and raise their eyebrows at a girl. My voice will become another way to justify them speaking over me.

   To any woman who leads— and by this I mean every woman— do not run from emotion. Show them that you do not just have an attitude, but were proving your point. You do not have to be the most soft spoken or level headed person in the room. Keep learning and applying your knowledge. Say what you mean and how you feel. And, to everyone, reach out to women. Ask them for insight. They will be surprised you asked.