Do you ever sit and say “what if I had said…” at the end of an argument? Do you sometimes shout at the telly when there’s no-one around to hear? Do you call people cunts in your head? Do you dream about screaming off rooftops?
I’m a big fan of speaking out and it almost never gets me into trouble. I’m permanently one gob-flap away from statements that will make you laugh, cringe, wince or just basically get on your tits. When I have the strength of conviction (read:wine), I will happily tell people that they are pricks, dicks, pillocks, idiots and fucking morons. Or combinations thereof (I’ve not yet met a fucking dick-pillocking, moronic idiot, but I am well-prepared). Despite coming off as an angina attack waiting to happen, I’m rarely scattergun in my approach and have a clear understanding of what constitutes a reasonable level of outrage that can then directly translate into a lovely unimpeded rantathon.
Do you ever wonder what would happen if YOU just opened your mouth and let it all out?
Not a lot, I’m willing to bet. A couple of raised eyebrows. Maybe even a sharp ‘TSK!’ or two. But realistically, most people will generally ignore a directionless, ranting, isolated individual, preferring to just file them under “curlywurlycuckoo” (if you were at primary school in the eighties) and move on to something less likely to have them making a statement to the local constabulary. Speaking out rarely has consequences, even if what you’re saying is critically important. Unless you are able to support your voice with action or the potential for action. In short: you could be a threat.
That’s when things get interesting.
Like the old adage goes ‘opinions are like arseholes, everyone has one’, but the beauty of an opinion is that as long as it’s somewhat based in knowledge and experience – or both – AND has the potential for creating change, then you set the groundwork for influencing the opinions of others. Which, if you have the appropriate platform, is something slightly scary, but also flat-out fucking awesome. But you need a few things to crack on with this:
Spunk, fortitude, balls the size of an elephant and nothing to lose
The one thing I’ve learnt recently is that being the owner of a neat set of fairly well-operating, if slightly wayward ovaries is that I should expect a good solid “SHHHHHH!” from time to time. It is also widely assumed that my kissy chromosomes make my having a level of informed knowledge and, dare I say it, expertise, completely out of the question. That’s not to say that all bollock-owners are patronising bastards who fantasise about stringing feminists up by their armpit hair (we’re all hairy and angry apparently), in fact I know a magnificent amount of male flag-waving feminists who I would happily clink my prosecco glass with. It’s just an unfortunate fact that whenever I have a vocal opinion the only people who take umbrage are men. And their unitary responses rarely deviate from:
Patronising. “I suggest that I might be better placed to talk about this*insert chest-beating statement*”
Angry: “How dare you suggest *insert aggressive chest-beating statement*”
and my personal favourite…
Thinly Veiled Threats: spoken or unspoken “I suspect that your stance on this will make things difficult for you in the future”. This one is great. Especially when it is they who then proceed to roll out said ‘difficulties’.
I hold no truck with censorship (another thing I can hold my maternal grandmother responsible for), But it comes from lots of places. In fact, a lot of the time I should probably self-censor (yeah, no-one needed to know my ‘naked vomiting out of a window’ story – sorry about that, Glenn). But there is no absolute mechanism in place for preventing a person in this country from speaking their own entitled opinion. And no matter what is threatened or who attempts to ‘put the little lady/man in their place’, no one should be embarrassed to put themselves forward and have their voice heard. Even in a little town like Maidenhead. If lots of small voices start chattering all at once, the odds are that the bigger voices might just get less opportunity to foist their bluster upon us. Be that threat. Collectively.
Unless you stick your head over the parapet then no-one will know what strength lies within.
Shut up or else? Get fucked.