Over the past few months WomenSpeak has received some submissions which I have hesitated to post. For those of you who have left your email contact I would have replied to you stating why I haven’t published your stories. For those who haven’t included their emails and for others who would like to submit stories in the future, I’d just like to highlight some of the reasons why your story may not have been posted.
1. The story is not yours or is written in the third person.
We ask women to share their stories of discrimination to enable them to tell it from their perspective and to describe their feelings about the incident. This is important for a number of reasons.
Firstly, and most importantly, it gives women the opportunity to explore their own feelings about an incident. Often when we have gone through a traumatic experience we choose not to think about it or block it out. While this is a normal reaction to dealing with these experiences, the prolonged psychological pressure of having to remain silent can sometimes affect one’s physical and emotional well-being. Writing your story can be a first step to really thinking through and analyzing what happened to you and how it has affected you. You may find that taking the brave step of sharing your story, can give you the courage to seek additional help or address the issue in a more direct and proactive way.
Secondly, other women who have gone through similar situations may find solace and validation for their own feelings. So often women feel they are the only ones that have experienced such a situation. They blame themselves or think something is wrong with them. Women who are able to see their own stories reflected through someone else’s words, will have more confidence to stand up for themselves and join forces with others to help create changes in the lives of all women.
Thirdly, when women write their stories and express their thoughts and their feelings, the reader is able to better understand exactly what women go through in these situations. There are so many erroneous preconceived notions about issues like sexual harassment, rape, pregnancy discrimination at work and street harassment. When women tell the truth about their lives and how these incidents have affected them, we all have a better understanding of what needs to be done to support women and debunk some of the myths surrounding these issues.
If you are writing your story in the third person, using the word “She” to describe your experience instead of “I”, then the reader is not sure whether or not the story is really about you or someone else you know.
Further, we respect the right of women to share their stories or not. If you are writing someone else’s story, we cannot be sure that the person on whose behalf you are writing does in fact want you to share certain details.
2. Your story may be libelous or you have shared too many identifying details.
It is absolutely your right to tell your story how you want, when you want and to name names if necessary. However, you cannot do that on this blog. While we want you to feel free to tell your story, we cannot be held accountable for posting the names of persons or easily identifiable details that would enable others to know exactly who you are referring to. So, you can’t say “My dentist, John Doe, who lives in Maraval and is the father of a famous Soca star.” We simply cannot account for what may be construed as libelous claims.
A second reason we discourage using this identifying language is that the focus of the story is shifted from person telling the story to the perpetrator(s). The story can quickly shift from an exploration and analysis of the situation and experience of the woman, to a source of gossip and conjecture. We want this to be a process that focuses on understanding the situation from the woman’s perspective and while the temptation is to expose the perpetrator for what he or she has done, we believe it detracts from this process of self-examination.
3. Your story does not relate to an issue of gender discrimination against women.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where people are discriminated against for many different reasons. And women necessarily fall within all such categories. This blog however aims to help us understand more about gender discrimination as it affects women. We explore such themes as gender-based violence (intimate partner abuse, rape, sexual harassment), Street Harassment, Workplace discrimination (pregnancy discrimination, organisational culture, compensation and equity) Sex and Relationships (sexual and reproductive roles, sex and consent), as well as other issues related to the way in which women are discriminated against because of their gender.
Are you still here? Good.
We appreciate all of who have taken the time to read the blog, share the stories and information with your friends and most importantly all those of you who have had the courage to tell your story. We are happy to get feedback on what you think we can do better and how we can take WomenSpeak to the next level.