Speak Your Truth: I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

When I heard the news that Osama bin Laden had been assassinated, the very first thought that popped into my mind was, ďDing dong the witch is dead. Rejoice, munchkins!” Then a brief 10 seconds later, it was followed by a heaviness in my heart. Everyone all over the US was celebrating. Twitter was all atwitter with gleeful cheering. Facebook was one big PAR-TEE. There were parties in the streets.

And yet, I found myself crying, not because the world isnít better off without bin Laden in it, but because our reaction as a society breaks my heart.

Speaking my truth

So I wrote this post. And I tweeted it on Twitter. And I posted it on a Facebook. And I quoted Gandhi saying, ďAn eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.Ē

And then people started un-liking me on Facebook. And un-following me on Twitter. And I started getting hate mail. And that just made me cry more.

Not that I really care how many Facebook fans I have or how many people follow me on Twitter. And Iíve gotten hate mail before, so I know none of itís personal. But what breaks my heart is that people have such a hard time accepting opposing views. Thereís so much pressure just to follow the crowd cheering into the streets, even if you donít feel like celebrating. And so thatís what most people do.

Womenís voices have been oppressed for so many years, and itís still happening today. Iím a powerful woman with uhÖyou could say strongÖopinions. And after years of keeping my pie hole shut, Iím no longer afraid to speak my truth, even if I know it wonít be popular. Iíve spoken out about everything from abortion to male circumcision to vaginas. So I wasnít about to keep quiet about my jumbled up feelings about bin Ladenís death.

But I was still saddened that people felt the need to reject me because they didnít agree with my feelings.

Why can’t we live in love?

Why canít we create space for others who disagree with us? Why canít we stop the dualistic thinking that makes one person right and the other person wrong? Why canít it be okay that I feel both relieved and saddened at the same time? Why canít I speak my truth without worrying that some person I care about might decide they canít have a relationship with me because of what I believe?

When I wrote Whatís Up Down There, one person I love dearly decided to reject me. She just couldnít be in my life anymore if I could write that kind of book. And it deeply saddened me. Must authenticity equal rejection?

But whatís the alternative? Silencing myself? Sugar coating my authentic beliefs so they come across as more palatable to the masses? Spouting off things I donít believe so I can repair a relationship that broke down?

Regarding the post I wrote about bin Ladenís death, one person who has been a vital part of the Owning Pink community for two years, said, ďAs an American, a woman, and a human being, I found this blog to be very offensive! I understand that you are on a mission to help people live in love and peace, but some things are better left unsaid!Ē

Really? Better left unsaid?

Like I should just shut my trap, when my whole mission is to empower you to open your hearts, minds, and mouths? Nah. I canít do that. Iíve come this far. Once you discover the joy of being free, you canít climb back in your cage.

In response to her, I wrote:

I love you honey. I really do. And I know you and I disagree politically about a lot of things. But really — “Some things are better left unsaid?” Do you really believe that any person should silence their true beliefs? I don’t. I believe we can agree to disagree, but I have my right to speak my mind and you have yours. Must we make it personal? Can’t we disagree and still share love?

Why canít we accept that weíre not all clones? Why canít my beliefs just be my beliefs without threatening yours? Why must it be such an either/or society? Canít I express sadness that people are celebrating a death without being labeled as an un-American traitor? Canít you just love me — because of and in spite of my beliefs — the way I love you?

So many of you havenít discovered the joy of being free to speak your truth yet. Youíre still in the cage, feeling muzzled, thinking things without saying them, stuffing your feelings down, wearing masks, saying what you think will make you popular, rather than what is true. And it eats away at your soul.

In fact, dozens of people on Owning Pink, Facebook, and Twitter messaged me anonymously or privately to say they agreed with my feelings but were afraid to go public about how they were feelings. While I did get hate mail, I also got loads of love letters from people saying I inspire them to overcome the silence and speak their truths.

In fact, in the end, after I tweeted about how people on Facebook were un-liking me, I wound up with way more Facebook fans that I had yesterday, before the whole bin Laden thing went down.

Let your light shine

Which is pretty much how it goes. For every person you lose because you spoke your truth, youíre likely to gain 100 more. And the ones you gain are precious, because they love you BECAUSE of your truth. You start attracting your tribe. You surround yourself with people who value your authentic self and love you all the more because you are vocal about what you believe, even if itís unpopular.

Itís time to stop the Gentlemanís Agreement, the one they made the movie about, the one that says that polite people just go along with the pack, even if the pack is killing Jews or oppressing black people or dancing in the streets to celebrate a death. Every time you silence yourself instead of speaking up for what you believe in, you imply agreement with what everyone else is saying. Every time you keep your mouth shut to play it safe, you deprive the world of your zone of genius. Every time you fail to let your Inner Pilot Light shine, you die a little more.

Donít you want to stop keeping quiet? Donít you have something to say in your life that youíre dying to say? If you had 10,000 people and soapbox to speak to them from, what would you say?

This is your time, baby. This is your chance. Tell us what you believe — about anything. Come out of the closet. We value your voice. Speak loud and proud and let us celebrate you.

*††† *††† *††† *

Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Pink Medicine Woman coach, motivational speaker, and author of†Whatís Up Down There? Questions Youíd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.

Learn more about Lissa Rankin here.

68 comments

Tasha B.
Tasha B.4 years ago

We are blessed with this thing called 'freedom of speech', which is something not everyone can say they have - I have the utmost respect towards those who actually use it. I respect you - one truth does more justice than a thousand lies - and thanks.

bud m.
bud m.4 years ago

You have a beautiful heart.
"The prayer for our souls is a petition for persistence, not for one good deed or a single thought; but deed on deed and thought on thought til day calling unto day shall make a life worth living"
W E B Dubois

Carol H.
Carol H.4 years ago

Amen to this article. Several of my friends and I discussed our mixed feelings about the death of America's Most Wanted over Facebook. I can't say we came to any conclusions but there was healing in the discussions. Healing in that we felt safer because the danger of such a man was no longer hanging over us. Healing because we realized that it wasn't him, but the threat of his ideology. Healing because we strengthened the safety we feel as friends who can discuss anything openly. In my work life and in interactions I have with people outside my circle of friends, I often feel that people can't get past the differences to see those things we have in common. My husband and my friends and I disagree quite a bit. I feel this is because we are all thinking and caring individuals and having different opinions is normal and beautiful. Sometimes the disagreements get heated and that just speaks to the fire in our spirits, that we find the issues discussed important. We can agree to disagree; we can agree to stop a discussion that is getting too hurtful in some way and come back to it later; we can change our minds because of an aspect of the issue we hadn't thought about before. I don't need friends that want me to hide my feelings or my opinions. I'm better off without those people because I have so many wonderful friends and a wonderful husband who wants me to be truly me, even if we disagree sometimes.

Raphael M.
Raphael M.4 years ago

End of comment:

We will all win or we will all loose together, as one humanity. As long as a people or nation is oppressed or exploited by another, all talks of love are impractical and irrelevant.

Raphael M.
Raphael M.4 years ago

America has been transformed from a culture of individualism to one of conformism...people here have been trained, by primary education and by the mass media, to think, feel, behave and even dress alike...and it is nowhere more evident than in suburbia, the cultural twilight zone of America and the triumph of middle class mediocrity.

Imagination and creativity can only overcome where and when fear is no longer exclusively defining our thoughts, feelings and actions.
When fear rules, conformity and uniformity become law, under ever more coercive authority and social pressure, as we can see today.

America is a very fearful nation...proof of this statement lies in the might and number of its weapons, within its overblown military budget, and in its desire to achieve absolute control over all nations.

Calling an individual or a people or nation evil simply reveals intellectual laziness and willful ignorance...all actions have an origin, a cause....not to look at the political cause of terrorism is hypocritical at best and idiotic at worse, and always counterproductive and dangerous.

Do not forget justice is a form of love in action...as was chanted in LA years ago, "no justice, no peace". The US can roll over all nations militarily and bomb many to oblivion...but war will never end as long as justice does not triumph FOR ALL PEOPLE WITHOUT EXCEPTIONS, no matter how brown or how poor.

We will all win or we will all loose together, as one humanity. As long as a pe

Toni C.
Toni C.4 years ago

"Some people" (and most of them are men) think that women are the weakest gender in the society. Maybe because women has the heart for all things that happened around us and thus "some people" stripped down women for voicing out there opinions. As a woman, I'm afraid to say what's running inside my head, I speak with all liberty for as long as I don't stepped down somebody else's a**, I cry whenever I want to be and laugh with all my heart's out.. after all, I am woman.. and as you say.. HEAR ME ROAR!! Lissa Rankin, i love your post and keep roaring.. Cheers!

Brenda Gilbert
Brenda Gilbert4 years ago

Thank you, Lissa, for your courage in speaking your truth. I agree entirely with your sentiments. My reaction was the same when I heard of bin Laden's death.
What many people seem to have forgotten is that when he was fighting the "evil Communists" in Afghanistan, bin Laden was regarded as a hero and was supported and funded by the USA. When the Soviets left that country, the US turned their back on him and attacked his home, killing his two sons. He, himself, was not there that day!! I'm not saying at all that this justifies his subsequent actions but I do think it puts a rather different light on the matter, doesn't it?
Let's not judge - especially not prematurely or without being sure we have all the neessary information.
I would also add that we can NEVER know the story of anyone's soul or what lessons they have to learn or to teach on this earth. Perhaps we could just look at ourselves and make sure we act, think and feel as lovingly as possible for the highest good of all concerned.

Brenda Gilbert
Brenda Gilbert4 years ago

Thank you for speaking your truth, Lissa. I agree with you about everything you say. I felt the same when I heard the news.
I find the celebration of bin Laden's death especially sad when most people have forgotten that when he was fighting the "evil Communists" in Afghanistan, he was the hero and supported by the US. Only days after the Soviet withdrawal from that country US forces killed bin Laden's two sons. He, himself, was, by accident, not at home that day!!!!
Nothing is ever quite what it seems. That's why we always need to remember there are at least two - if not many more - sides to any situation. Let's not judge anything - especially not prematurely or with only part of the necessary information.

Loo Samantha
Loo sam4 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Lorraine M.
Lorraine Morris4 years ago

To have lost loved ones to 9/11 or other atrocities is unimagineable and I would not presume to deny the views of anyone who has been in that loss process. However, for the rest of us to rejoice when someone is dead is incredibly sad. Its seems somehow that it takes something away from what it means to be human.