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Forget What Mama Taught You

Aug 22, 2013 | Uncategorized | 7 comments

Recently something happened that has made me think of the words that I hold inside; the things that I think but don’t say.  It was an act of courage by another woman- a woman I didn’t know.  She shouted out and saved me from danger. And, since it happened, I’ve been asking myself if I would have had the courage to do the same?  Or would the “pleaser” in me have stopped me?

And I’m not alone. We come from a generation of women who were taught to be pleasing to everyone.  I remember my Mom telling me that no one was going to love a loud woman who says what she thinks. “No one really wants to hear what you think….don’t make yourself too loud, too boisterous, don’t stand out. Men won’t like you….”

And now there are times when I can’t form the words, much less have the courage to say them. You know, those times   when saying what you think might not make you popular. People might think you’re not being “ladylike” or “attractive” if you say what’s on your mind.

Well, here’s the story. I was in my regular restaurant at lunch, sitting with a coworker. My jacket was over my chair and my purse by me on the floor.  I was too wrapped up in my conversation to notice the man who sat near me. I didn’t notice his face or the sound of his chair as he inched his way closer to where I sat. I was oblivious to the drama that was unfolding as he tried to lean in a little closer and steal my wallet out of my purse.

“Don’t you try to take her purse!” I heard someone shout. And then to me- “Miss, you better watch your purse, he’s going to take it!” She pointed, she yelled- and she got everyone’s attention, including mine. This wonderful statuesque African American woman stood up and yelled at this man trying to steal my wallet. She shouted so everyone could hear. She shouted and scared him off. He ran and others ran after him- making sure that he didn’t get away.

I stood there amazed. This woman who didn’t know me had taken it upon herself to look out for me. She was not afraid at all of causing a ruckus. She was not afraid of embarrassing anyone. She was righteous and she shouted- and she shouted to help someone she didn’t know.

And when I realized what had happened she said “I saw him sneaking over and I was not going to let something bad happen to you.  We women have to watch out for each other- and not be afraid to speak up when something is wrong.”

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve stopped from saying the right thing, stopped from yelling it out from the rooftops if it needed to be. I am embarrassed to say that the way I was raised gets in the way of doing what this wonderful woman did for me.  And, it’s going to stop. Right now.

And, I’m going to forget what Mom said.  I’m going to remember this woman and keep asking myself “Where is my voice?” until I find it.

So, use your voice! Shout something out to me! Is there something that needs to be said? I hope we all can say it.

Give me a shout out!

 

7 Comments

  1. Dawn Biocca

    That women did you the biggest favor of your life. She not only gave you back your wallet but she gave you the voice you lost. I were raised in the generation that “women are to be see and not heard”. Well you are right if we don’t look out for each other who will. We need to speak up and not let the ghosts of the past rule us. I also have been afraid to speak up but after reading this I am going to step up and change that.

    • Virginia

      I love that reminder- women are to be seen and not heard. A guy that read this let me know that the women in his family were taught to speak their mind. It’s good to hear that maybe we were the rare ones. Thanks for sharing Dawn, V

  2. Missy Leathers

    Love this story, and thank God for that woman who had the guts to speak up! Bet that was the last thing that man expected. Yes, it is important to have a voice and use it. Thanks for sharing such a great story of courage.

    • Virginia

      I so wish I had gotten this woman’s name, she will always be a symbol of courage for me. But I’ll still remember her. Thanks Missy, Virginia

      • Missy Leathers

        Who knows, maybe you’ll run in to her again and have the opportunity to get her name. Life is full of wonderful coincidences!

  3. b+

    Shouting out is the first skill, shouting for yourself is the second. I had a friend that was accosted by a purse snatcher in a grocery store parking lot. She grabbed the woman by the hair with both hands and screamed at the top of her lungs. I, on the other hand, would have just stood in amazement that any woman could do something so unladylike as steal a purse. Being quiet is a nice quality but only if you don’t lose your voice!

    Barbara (b+)

    • Virginia

      Wow Barbara- what a story! Your friend was so brave and she deserves everything good in the world. I hope that examples of these women are in our lives so we are also able to be brave and shout out! Thanks for sharing- Virginia