Athena Talks
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Athena Talks

An Open Letter To Women Who Don’t Do As They’re Told

Pairs well with “Not The Only One,” by Bonnie Raitt.

Dear women who don’t do as they’re told,

Thank you. Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for clearing a path through wet mud. Thank you for behaving as a human being as opposed to a gender, regardless of the inevitable consequences associated with simply being a gender. I admire your fortitude and endurance.

Thank you for not making me feel like it’s my fault I’m female. Women are raised to do and act and participate with the foundation of those teachings rooted in what other people think. We’re taught to care very much about what other people think. Talk like, dress like, act like a lady. The consequences of going against those grains never really being made clear. And if I don’t do as I’m told? Then what? Then people won’t like you. Then men won’t like you. Then what? Why is that bad?

We’re supposed to value being liked, being seen as pleasant, easy societal tulips in a field of societal tulips doing the very same thing. Thank you for not being the flower. Thank you for being the dirt.

Thank you for not caring who likes you. Thank you for placing your convictions, your creativity, and your skills above the useless, but often leveraged need to be accepted and adored. Acceptance and adoration come most easily when they are the least of your concern. I am inspired by how little deference you give to the superficial opinions of others. I am inspired by how much deference you give to your cause.

Thank you for knowing that passion and persistence are not hostile, aggressive actions. Men have to throw a punch to be considered aggressive. Women have to disagree with someone in a meeting. Thank you for refusing to accept reactions to your actions that wouldn’t be heaped upon a man for the same behavior.

People call you courageous. When a woman does something typically only a man can get away with without ridicule, she’s considered courageous. I don’t think we should be called courageous for being ourselves, for standing up for what we believe in, for standing up for people who can’t stand up for themselves. But until such time as a woman is considered a man’s equal in every house in this country, including the White one, thank you for your courage.

There is no reaction more motivating to me than a man who has to bear the indignity of a woman defying him.

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, regarding Elizabeth Warren, Senator for Massachusetts.

Thank you for showing the world that the time for men to “put women in their place” is long, long dead. Thank you for not being afraid of the punishment levied upon you by men you made uncomfortable. I know people use your defiance as justification for punishing you, citing all kinds of “she should have known better” and “well, that’s what she gets for doing what she did.” Thank you for proving that punishment is not a natural consequence of being female. Thank you for carrying on as if your punishments never happened at all.

Thank you for demonstrating the difference between fearless and reckless. Thank you for not backing down when the world wants you to. Thank you for not being silent when you’re told to stop talking. Thank you for not hearing commands, for only hearing noise.

We do not all have to like each other. We do not all have to agree with each other. We are as individual as we are a gender, recently called upon to act as one. Our differences, our unique offerings to society are at the moment only noticed in the extremes, thank you for going to extremes. I aspire to be like you, my own meager volume increasing slowly with the help of examples to follow. I am doing what I can, I hope to do more. I just want to say thank you for the thing I value and respect most about you: Your voice, at its loudest. I am listening.



A hub of conversation to help young women mature, budding professionals become leaders and leaders become advocates for equality.

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Shani Silver

Author of A Single Revolution, available on Amazon. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail