I’ve always been one for making noise when a status quo is unfair or oppressive or just downright wrong. My primary school teachers always said I had a lot to say for myself (not wrong) and then in secondary school, I was on the school council. At the time we were obliged to wear blazers in lessons and around the school unless it was a coveted ‘Non-Blazer Day’. They were stuff of dreams and summer days, where the weather was hot and the classrooms hotter. But I and many others in my year group struggled to see why we had to wear blazers all the time. It didn’t ruin my learning and I was always a really focussed student. I worked my bum off, but I didn’t always need to wear my blazer in a 1950s, horribly-insulated classroom. So I argued on the school council and I argued a lot. Politely and constructively but I certainly channelled my grump and my strop there.
Flash forward 25 years and now I’m literally an advocate for people with special educational needs. I assess kids for dyslexia and give families advice to people from various walks of life about supporting their kids. I work as a charity trustee for two charities and I spend a lot of time researching and writing about support for people whose voices might not be heard.
So when I commented on an article on Twitter about a lady with terribly precarious and underpaid employment, I was happy to make a noise for people who are on the sidelines and not necessarily in a position to argue or rock the boat. I queried someone’s assertion and then a whole load of insults and whatnot came my way. Part of the insults included me not having the right to comment on others’ lives and not having a clue what I was on about. I was pretty baffled by the sheer tenacity of the person who was writing; I’d love to say replying, but I’d given up writing back by morning break! They did not stop. I wasn’t going to back down and I am not prepared to be insulted when I call someone out for just not being on the ball with their assertions.
So I posted with the sisterhood because I was just baffled and kind of did need someone else to field the ridiculous volume of notices that kept hitting my twitter feed. And they came. The sisterhood came, with bells and whistles on. I was hoping for a couple of likes of a couple of comments that just showed I am not a wally.
Then a full on twitter-war ensued. Said person did not relent and then started insulting everyone communicating with them and through my whole working day and into the evening- it was a tutor day- my phone just kept pinging at me. It has been a cross between really heavy and me wanting to get my pop corn out.
But the mentality behind it, that, “Shush little woman, I am right and I will keep talking over you no matter what!” is really what concerned me. On twitter it really doesn’t bother me, because meh… but that person and many others like them inhabit the world IRL. And that is not a good thought. Not everyone has a whole sisterhood and amazing folks around them to support them in trying to voice their concerns. Not everyone is as stroppy as me or as utterly unwilling to backdown when someone tries to silence or talk over them.
I love that I’m stroppy and I wholly credit team Newton. I am their fault! And team Ross, Mr Dr Ross is to blame for continuing that trait in me. But if nothing else, today convinced me that I WILL continue to ruffle feathers, make waves and amplify voices of those who need a supportive ear a bit of a leg up.