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To survive—as a citizen in today’s harsh political climate, as a writer in a competitive field and in a house with a 2 & 5 year old—my voice is my #1 tool in my arsenal. But it hasn’t always been.
Like most females, I was socially conditioned to be polite. Quiet. So quiet, in fact, that after I was raped at 15, I didn’t speak a word of it for seven years… So, I’m sure you can understand how deeply the #MeToo movement has resonated with me. We are at the precipice of a massive cultural shift with regards to women’s rights and it is because we spoke up and we spoke out.
What started as a vocal, public takedown of one powerful man—Harvey Weinstein—has turned into an avalanche of women’s voices. And look! Look what’s happening—important conversations about power imbalances, pay equity, sexual harassment in the workplace, sexual abuse and more are happening every day: In the media, at kitchen tables, and in Congress.
It’s about damn time. Women’s voices, experiences, and needs have never been taken seriously, or been given their due. Those days are OVER. Because we say they’re over.
Of course, it’s not always easy to speak up. Women face unfair, systemic obstacles to speaking our truth: we’re called hysterical, we aren’t believed, we’re gaslit. But that can’t deter us. Not anymore.
And for what it’s worth, speaking up doesn’t have to be on the macro level; you don’t have to speak out about massive injustices in order for it to count. It’s like I tell my daughter: never be afraid to lift your voice, even at the smallest things. Start small, build your confidence. It WILL snowball.
There was a day I couldn’t imagine speaking my truth, about my sexual assault. But once I did, there was no stopping me. I had found my voice, and vowed to do whatever I could to help amplify other women’s voices.
Which is why I write.
Why I speak.
Why I teach my kids to “use their words.”
The importance of speaking up and speaking out, especially as women, can’t be understated.
Writer, Op-Ed Journalist, Mama Bear
Maureen is a writer and opinion journalist whose work has been published widely online, including Teen Vogue, Quartz, The Atlantic, Parents, ThinkProgress, Rewire, Romper and more. In 2016, her essay on triumphing in the aftermath of rape was published in the book Making Out Like A Virgin: Sex, Desire and Intimacy After Sexual Trauma to critical acclaim. Additionally, Maureen has been quoted as a subject matter expert on rape culture, reproductive rights & feminist activism in major media outlets. Best of all, she is a proud mama of two.