When A Girl Raises Her Hand

“Oh my god. Stop talking,” one person whispers.

“She’s such a kiss ass,” says another.

She hears them, but she’s used to it. She loves learning and asking questions and making her points. The other students don’t like her. Outside of class she’s quiet, but in class it’s another story. She talks too much, she takes too many notes, and she raises her hand too often.

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She sits next to a guy named Dean. They’re not really friends, but they talk to each other in class because they both care about school. When Dean raises his hand people don’t notice as much. He makes a point and people either don’t notice or they agree with him. No one whispers in irritation if he speaks for the fourth time. Not like they do with her.

When he talks people think he is:

Assertive

Insightful

Witty

Well spoken

Bold

Intelligent

 

They can’t put their finger on it, but there’s something about her they can’t stand. By the third time she’s spoken even the sound of her voice is enough to make them cringe. They listen to what she says, but only so they can find fault with her ideas. They don’t want her to make good points. They want her to say something stupid, so they can call her stupid. So they can reduce her to what they want her to be.

So she’ll know her place.5139726_orig

When she talks they think of her as:

Pushy

A know-it-all

Annoying

A suck up

Too feminist (whatever that means)

Whiny

Conceited

A girl who raises her hand is fine. It’s the girl who raises her hand too much who’s the problem. She’s the one who gets on everyone’s nerves. They can tolerate a girl who has one opinion. We can push her aside. The girl who keeps taking, who keeps questioning everything, she’s the one to watch out for. She’s the one they hate.

“Look who’s hand is up again.”

“Why doesn’t she shut up?”

She’ll never shut up. Because that’s what everyone wants her to do. And you know what? She has a voice that they can’t take away.

Her voice is powerful.

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Her voice is beautiful.

Her voice can change their minds.

Her voice matters.

If you whisper about her, if you roll your eyes, if you hate her, then you’re the problem. Strength is talking when everyone tells you to be quiet. Strength is all the women in history who fight to go to school, to be recognized, to be heard. Weakness is fearing strength. Weakness is whispering about the girl who raises her hand. Next time she says something, listen to her. She might know more than you do. And there’s nothing wrong with learning.

 

By Ashley Foy // Artwork by @MurjArt 



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