Comedian Amy Schumer is all over the place this summer telling women to speak up. Right there on the cover of Glamour: “I want to make women laugh. I want them to use their voice.”
In the interview, though, Schumer acknowledges there’s sometimes a price to pay for being outspoken. “I have gotten death threats—that was scary. But it just made me want to use my voice more.”
When women speak up, all kinds of hostility can be unleashed.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave disconnected from all devices … you know that Donald Trump got belligerent during last week’s GOP debate.
Trump responded to a question about his attitudes toward women with a gratuitous swipe at Rosie O’Donnell. And then spent days spewing venom about Megyn Kelly for asking the question. Including a thinly veiled reference to her menstrual cycle.
(If you heard the audio of that conversation, it’s very clear what he was talking about. Backpeddling later, claiming that when he said Kelly “had blood coming out of her … wherever”, he meant it was coming out of her ears. Well, that’s ridiculous.)
And Trump’s antics are the least of it, to my mind. He’s a showman doing what he does best.
What bothered me more was the response supporting Trump. Vile, ugly comments about Kelly that were very gender-specific.
Do those guys have wives? Daughters? Mothers? I don’t consider myself naïve, but I was shocked at the creeps that came out of the woodwork to attack Megyn Kelly for, um, doing her damn job.
And it wasn’t just the Fox anchor. Presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina tweeted, “I stand with Megyn.” And she got a dose of the same online treatment.
Now I’ve heard people argue that these are grown women who can defend themselves, Tweet back, and maybe even benefit from the publicity. I don’t doubt it.
You might know that I’m doing a program next week: Find Your Voice and Be Heard. Lisa Kaplin and I are teaming up for a NAWBO event because we deeply believe that women too often stay silent when they could be making a contribution. Promoting a cause. Standing up for themselves and others.
As a psychologist and life coach, Lisa sees what happens when women hold back from full expression. And when they finally free their metaphoric voice.
And I work with the literal voice. It breaks my heart when women apologize and justify and talk with little tiny voices that keep them playing small. I’ve heard clients surprise themselves by the sound they can make when they stop swallowing their words.
Does the vilification of Megyn Kelly make us think twice about telling women to speak up? Not really. Oh, it was definitely instructive about the culture in which we speak.
But in the end, the answer isn’t to cower in fear of hormone references and name-calling. The answer is to speak more. Speak louder. And speak together.
It doesn’t hurt to speak with humor, too. Amy Schumer’s a good example of that. And so are those women who are tweeting Donald Trump with the hashtag #periodsarenotaninsult. My personal favorite is: “@realDonaldTrump Just finished menstruating. I still don’t like you. Guess it had nothing to do w/ my period.”
Well, speaking more, louder and together with humor is my answer. I look forward to hearing yours. Post your comments below…
Megyn Kelly – By MattGagnon [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Donald Trump – Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Amy Schumer – Photograph by Mario Santor [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons