No more silence left to give

Victoria Smith in The Critic:

Self-censorship is like housework: the vast majority of it is done by women, and men only notice when they think we’ve missed a bit. 

She’s writing about Graham Norton and his ill-informed views on JK Rowling, but of course the pattern is ubiquitous.

This is true not just about discussions of sex and gender, but female experience both in the home and in public space: there is so much we do not say, to which men remain completely oblivious. They do not appreciate all our silences, all our accommodations. All they notice are the inconvenient truths we do choose to utter. For those, we are damned. 

One comfort here is that that makes being silent kind of pointless, so let’s not be silent. If we don’t get any points for shutting up why should we shut up? There’s no payoff. Fuck it then.

I suppose the thing that appals me most is the lack of gratitude. Graham Norton and his friends have no awareness of just how restrained and polite women have been whilst being told we are nothing more than ambulatory penetrable holes or ideas in men’s heads. Why should I write thousands of carefully considered words explaining why I’m more than that? Yet I, and countless others do, whilst many more women never get that far. 

Again, it is just like housework. You get a whole room — a whole lifetime — of pristine female politeness and all men notice is that one speck of dirt, that one moment when we women choose to say “no”. They’d best get used to it, though. We have no more silence left to give. 

That last line is such a gem.

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