Being heard

30 July 2019 | Columns

Justicia Shipena

One of the greatest challenges I have faced with writing a column has been taking a specific posture in each one. It seems fundamental that a piece writing in the opinion section of a newspaper contains an opinion, but that is harder to achieve than expected.

I have sought to balance being relatable and assertive in my writing, and in doing so, I have realised that this struggle to be firm in my stance, without alienating others, is a common struggle among all feminists and columnists.

In a society that etherises the feminine, treating it as something inherently different or alien, to be an advocate for it means we must find our own voices and believe that they deserve to be heard.

‘Being heard’ is a concept I learned from a good friend of mine. She used to answer all her text messages with ‘heard’ rather than ‘yeah’ or ‘OK’. When I asked her why, she said, “Heard is the new ‘word’.”

Never mind that she was reading with her eyes and not listening with her ears. When we write something, we are saying it; we should likewise be ‘hearing’ when we read.

Being heard has always been an interesting phrase to me, because it is not the same as ‘being listened to’.

Within this juxtaposition, ‘heard’ suggests power on the part of the hearers. Though they may hear all the noise surrounding them, they choose what they listen to and judge what to agree with, as is their right.

While hearing may not be the same as listening or agreeing, we nonetheless acknowledge the importance of what is being said, learn things we didn’t know before and expose ourselves to different ideas about how to make the world a better place. Then we respond. Feminism uses these conversations to amplify the voices of women and validate their experiences.

But quieter voices expressing new ideas and different perspectives can be drowned out over time by remarks like “you belong in the kitchen” or more targeted attacks like: “Why don’t you write about something less trivial?”

Neither feminists nor journalists can afford to worry about what people think of them outside of their immediate circles or let critics detract from their right to be heard. I consider myself lucky to be writing for such an encouraging and supportive network of people.

When I set out to write this column, I hoped I would have a chance to teach my readers and learn from them, and I can honestly say that I’ve done more of the latter than I anticipated.

It is often said writing provides a bubble of safety for its students - be it physical, spiritual, emotional or intellectual.

I’ll agree that it is a better environment than many others for an accidental feminist to find her footing and take a stance, but it has by no means protected me from criticism, be it from Twitter trolls or anyone else.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. At least I know I’m being heard.

I called this column ‘The accidental feminist’, because it was always intended to be aspirational in tone. I am accidental no longer, but I am still evolving in uncertain ways. Despite that uncertainty, I can now picture the feminist I intend to become. And I know that to be her, I must be heard.

Similar News


Death of a genre

3 days ago - 11 October 2019 | Columns

I am so disappointed and irked by the way R&B is being let down in Namibia. At the moment I have no favourite Namibian R&B...

Kora hearing stinks of suspicion

6 days ago - 08 October 2019 | Columns

The decision to have the hearing dealing with the lost Kora music award millions held “in-camera” - to the extent that the public, including the...

The danger of comfort zones

6 days ago - 08 October 2019 | Columns

Ester KamatiMany find it difficult to move from the place that has always given them shelter - the place where they grew up and call...

Accountability, for its own sake!

1 week ago - 07 October 2019 | Columns

During the Swapo election manifesto launch at Outapi on Saturday, the ruling party attempted to distance itself from the economic ruin the country is currently...

NPL a victim of its own success

1 week ago - 04 October 2019 | Columns

The suspension this week of the Namibia Premier League (NPL) by the Fifa normalisation committee currently in charge of the Namibia Football Association (NFA) cannot...

We all can't be stars

1 week ago - 04 October 2019 | Columns

You know the name Donlu Africa. You likely do not know the name Llewellyn Adams. That's because Adams is the invisible supporting the visible; he...

Is this election year for real?

1 week ago - 02 October 2019 | Columns

The presidential and National Assembly elections are slated for next month - yes, next month. Yet as things stand, it's nearly impossible to tell what...

The importance of arts training

1 week ago - 01 October 2019 | Columns

Octavia Tsibes Arts education is an integral part of any learning process, especially in times such as these. Many have studied arts over many decades....

The devil is in the detail

2 weeks ago - 27 September 2019 | Columns

The news broke on Wednesday that a very large herd of elephants, 70 in total, gained access to the Musese green scheme and managed, within...

Respect time

2 weeks ago - 27 September 2019 | Columns

I am a very impatient person and at almost every event I attend my patience gets tested. It is almost like they do it on...

Latest News

Amupanda KOs Doeseb

22 hours ago | Sports

JESSE JACKSON KAURAISA - Namibian public figures had a chance to stretch their muscles after participating in the MTC Knockout Project at the Windhoek...

TransNamib gets N$2.5bn

22 hours ago | Transport

TransNamib CEO Johny Smith says Namibian and southern African development banks have approved funding of N$2.5 billion for the parastatal's ambitious business plan that was...

Crashes cost millions

22 hours ago | Accidents

Injury grants totalling more than N$21 million and funeral grants of N$2.5 million have been paid out by the Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund in...

Nudo promises welfare state

22 hours ago | Politics

The National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) promised a welfare state when it launched its election manifesto in the Havana informal settlement on Saturday.Addressing a crowd...

Every anti-GBV effort counts

22 hours ago | Opinion

The MTC Knockout Project held over the weekend was a huge success in many ways. Naysayers, spurred on by armchair critics, had a field day...

The Desert Dash is on

22 hours ago | Sports

The 20th edition of the Nedbank Desert Dash is set to take place in the first week of December. The event, which annually attracts...

Pack and leave

22 hours ago | Sports

JESSE JACKSON KAURAISA I am writing this hoping that it will reach those that I believe do not have the interest...

Expired meds limit campaign

22 hours ago | Agriculture

Only some cattle in the northern communal areas will benefit from this year's free lung sickness vaccination.The agriculture ministry would neither confirm nor deny that...

PDM slams LPM's 'blatant lie'

22 hours ago | Politics

The secretary-general of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), Manuel Ngaringombe, has denied allegations that the party has struck a deal with Swapo to rig the...

Load More