After catching a bad upper respiratory infection (aka the common cold) I developed a severe case of laryngitis. This is not the scratchy throat and sound like a frog kind of affliction, this is total loss of voice – I cannot even grunt! I’ve been like this since last Sunday and while my husband is pretty much overjoyed, my doctor says I need to rest my larynx. Believe it or not even whispering puts a strain on the voicebox I have been unable to speak for the better part of a week and it’s been very frustrating.
An almost full week of silence got me thinking of women who are denied the opportunity to voice themselves. Some of the female characters I’ve included in my books have been denied the right to speak for themselves for one reason or another. In Bartlett’s Rule Paige was denied the right to say “No” when an ex-boyfriend viciously attacked her; In A Chaunce of Riches Samantha was blackmailed into silence about who she really loved; and in Hyphema Seudah was raised a Muslim Pakistani woman in a place where some women are still forced to hide behind veils and are not allowed to talk for fear of offending the men.
Although the things I’ve been able to do have been seriously curtailed without having a voice, I’ve been lucky to have friends and family who have been patient and willing to interpret hand signals, read hastily scribbled notes and crane to listen to a few whispered words. My silence has lasted a week and I have reasonable expectation of once again being able to talk for myself, hopefully soon. But what of those women who live lifetimes without the ability to say what is on their minds, to voice their feelings, to be heard and be allowed to matter.
This past week has given me a mere glimpse into their frustration. It is difficult to tell folks your needs when you can’t speak. In the United States the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was signed, recognizing women's right to vote on August 26, 1920. There has been progress worldwide over the right of women to have voices about family, religion, politics and health. But there are still lands and social situations where women are not afforded the right to have a say. This is a subject that should concerns us all; when human rights are denied to any person(s) it is an affront to us all.
Read up on women’s issues at these sites:
http://www.now.org/ National Organization for Women (NOW)
http://www.un.org/womenwatch/ Womenwatch: A United Nations project
http://www.wedo.org/ Women's Environment and Development Organization
http://www.hrw.org/home Human Rights Watch