Why Women Silence Each Other

Updated: Mar 17

This morning I was sitting in a doctor’s waiting room waiting to for my to be called.

While I was waiting something interesting happened.

A woman who had also been waiting went up to the desk and asked if she hadn’t been called yet because her doctor was running behind or because arrived a few minutes late.

I felt both surprised and intrigued by her question.

I don’t know about you but I’ve been there.

Feeling like I was waiting forever for my appointment, wondering if they forgot I was sitting there.

But that wasn’t the reason for her question — she wanted an answer as to why she was still waiting, long after her scheduled time.

I was impressed that she asked the question out loud and without apology.

And then…she apologized.

When the assistant was silent in response to her question, the woman backtracked and apologized for asking.

This caused the assistant to finally say, “Oh, no, its fine!”, in her highest pitch voice, even though her initial reaction said otherwise.

Together they determined that the doctor was late due to traffic on her way in and had just arrived.

The woman again explained her reason for asking and apologized for a second time before taking her seat.

I was rattled by this exchange for a few reasons.

The first was that the woman spoke up to clarify her wait, which hardly ever happens.

Second was that she apologized twice for asking this perfectly reasonable question.

And third, that the female assistant responded passively agressively to the woman’s direct question.

I see exchanges like these all the time and find myself making them sometimes too.

It’s an example of women silencing each other. It really gets me at the core when I see this behavior.

We are silenced enough in our society, why are we also doing this to each other?

Judging other women by their appearance, the kind of car they drive, how well they parent, and how much they do for themselves and others.

We live in a patriarchal society and are so influenced by the expectations place on women that we often don’t see these interactions for what they are.

Women being silenced.

Being told to just shut up and go with the flow.

Don’t need too much, god forbid you are needy.

We feel limited and apologize just for being ourselves.

Not knowing where the line is between confidence and bragging.

We’re sent the message that we shouldn’t question the status quo.

What I’d like to ask you today is to question more, even if just in your own mind.

Break out of the box that society tells you that you belong in.

And we will do this for a few reasons:

  1. To feel empowered and heard in our relationships.

  2. To live a life we love.

  3. To show our daughters that their feelings are valid and worth hearing.

  4. That you both deserve to have your questions heard and answered without feeling like you’re asking for too much.

In my work with mothers and daughters, I show them how to better understand their needs and ask for them to be met, unapologetically.

Let’s all be women on a mission to giving ourselves permission to live an authentic life, thus inspiring our girls to do the same. And one day we will have generations of females who are no longer victims to silence.