Speaking Up

“I’m 10. And I Want Girls to Raise Their Hands,” writes Alice Tapper in her New York Times editorial. This is how she recounts her experience on a recent field trip.. “I noticed that all the boys stood in the front and raised their hands while most of the girls politely stayed in the back and were quiet. It made me upset,” Her awareness led to the creation of a Girl Scout patch called “Raise Your Hand” patch. To earn it, the girl scout must pledge to raise her hand in class and recruit three other girls who will do the same.

A few days after reading Alice’s editorial her words return to me as I listen to Scarlet Johansson speak at a Times Up rally. She reflects on how hearing other women’s stories of abuse and harassment touched her. “Suddenly I was 19 again and I started to remember all the men I’d known who took advantage of the fact I was a young woman who didn’t yet have the tools to say no.”

If we don’t encourage girls of ten to speak up, where does that leave them at nineteen? I care passionately about women speaking up. Owning our voice is the focus of my work. It’s central to my personal journey. It’s the message I wish to leave with my daughter and granddaughters. Frothy years of teaching, writing and exploring this topic has shown me it takes…


Awareness lets us discover ways we swallow our voice and also alerts us to make new choices. Practice allows our voice to become stronger. Support encourages us to speak boldly.

My writing is usually more about our inner journey than our outer journey. However, spiritual paths teach us the importance of being present in words and deeds. Gandhi said, “Those who say spirituality has nothing to do with politics do not know what spirituality really means.” Truly the two cannot be separated. Meditation, contemplation, and yoga are preparation for mindful living. Ultimately, spiritual paths requires we take a stand for what we cherish.

I am heartened that our culture is once again becoming aware of its treatment of women. Disruption is an opportunity to reshape our cultural narrative. Men and women are struggling to understand acceptable interactions in bedrooms and boardrooms. It will continue to be messy, awkward, and also liberating as we find our humanity and our voices. We need patience to stay in the process. Discernment and distinctions take time to form.

My work brings me profound satisfaction. In the process of helping others, I’ve become more comfortable with my own voice. Fear and discomfort has not gone away. They are no longer a reason to stay silent. They signal that I am moving into uncharted territory. Each of us must find places where we struggle to speak our truth.

Here are my three wishes; May we notice when we are silencing ourselves. May we practice speaking up in big and little ways. May we hold up our hands in the classroom of life and encourage other women to do the same.

2 thoughts on “Speaking Up”

  1. Barbara Clevenger

    Hi Nancy, Love this!!! Going to share with my 9 year old granddaughters who are either still brownies or they are girl scouts. Will be interesting to hear what they have to say!

  2. Barbara, Thank you for responding. I love this also. Please let me know how the girls respond. Alice Tappers article is on NYT 10.31.2017. It’s quite charming and timely. Could it be that the young have the strong voices that we’ve prayed would appear?

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