I recently wrote a post on Medium.com called “Motives in the sexism debate — personal vendetta vs. for the feminist cause” about the best time to share your story around being sexually harassed, abused, or even just around an everyday sexist experience. Specifically, I was speaking about how to move feminism forward in the most positive way with your story.
I was trying to figure out for myself why one incident in the news really struck a chord with me. This story made me wonder when (if at all) is best to speak out about women’s issues as it relates to your own experiences. It was surrounding a woman named Charlotte Proudman who lashed out at a guy from LinkedIn who contacted her to remark on the beauty of her profile picture.
Her response was legitimate, and she made a very valid point. I just wonder if she could have done it without shaming the man who sent it to her? I’m sure she didn’t expect her tweet to pick up the speed it did. So it was a reminder to me that if you’re going to write something/anything then you need to be ready for the backlash if you are going to throw something into the ether.
It got me thinking about feminism, when to speak out and how to speak out so I wrote the article.
After I wrote the article, I came across this podcast with the most loving Brené Brown, author of “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” (watch her TED Talk on this subject here) and the ever-enchanting Elizabeth Gilbert, author of all my favorite books. Although they weren’t speaking specifically about women’s issues, they were discussing when the best time to tell your story would be. That part of the podcast can be found here.
So in addition to my article, they had some specific tips that I thought added a lot to what I was trying to articulate:
Specifically, DON’T speak until you have healed completely from the story you are trying to tell.
Own your story.
And further guidelines for when is the best time to share your story according to Brené Brown:
- Own or orphan your stories because often your self worth lives inside the story
- Share the stories with the people who have earned the right to hear them UNLESS
- you have healed from this story OR
- your healing is not contingent on the audience’s opinion on this story
- Share your story if the story serves your life’s work in some way
I’ve made this mistake time and time again. I’ve shared a story too soon or for no reason whatsoever besides it felt cathartic. What happens after I write that story? I run and hide away in my room waiting for the attacks to come.
It was only recently that I realized I don’t need to hit publish right at the moment I’m figuring it all out. I can write and write behind closed doors in order to figure out what I need from that but until I can look at the incident at hand and say “Yeah, that doesn’t affect me anymore” or “I’ve kicked this issue in the ass and have moved on” I am not ready for the world to know about it. AND most of the time, there is no reason to share it if it isn’t something that I feel needs to be put forward.
Share your story when you are ready and only then.