Don’t Shut Up. Keep Speaking Your Truth.

Don’t Shut Up. Keep Speaking Your Truth.

January 11, 2018

By Jennifer Davis-Flynn

Like many Gen X women, I was raised by Oprah.

During my tender middle-school years in the late 80s’, I would settle into the kitchen table after school, with a peanut butter sandwich and glass of milk, and tune into The Oprah Winfrey Show at 4 p.m. With Oprah as my guide, I learned about our society’s most painful problems for the first time: depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, domestic violence, and racism. I watched Oprah banter with female performers I worshipped like Diana Ross, Bette Midler, and Whitney Houston and converse seriously with thought-provoking writers and intellectuals like Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and poet Maya Angelou.

I commiserated with Oprah as she publicly struggled with her weight, just like I did. It was clear to my twelve-year-old self that despite all her success, she didn’t feel like she was good enough. She telegraphed to so many of us: the inherent pain of trying to live up to expectations and always falling short—never quite being worthy of love. But, through it all, she maintained her dignity and projected intelligence and strength under the fierce scrutiny of television lights and tabloids, in a world so hostile to powerful, black women.

Oprah is a seeker – forever on the path of self-knowledge and self-improvement. Later in high school, I would get my first taste of spirituality and mindfulness from Oprah. I learned about self-care, self-compassion, practicing gratitude. She started a book club and got millions of women to read and share their opinions. Oprah was a mentor and a mom to me. A gifted business woman, she built a billion-dollar empire while honestly portraying her struggles, voicing her failures, questioning the status quo, and continually striving to grow smarter, bolder, more loving, and more generous to others.

(And she LOVES dogs.)

So, fast forward to the Golden Globes last week, where Oprah was deservedly presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for “outstanding contributions to the field of entertainment” and gave her now viral acceptance speech stating “What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

She’s right.

It’s our responsibility to seize this moment and keep the #metoo momentum going. Right now, centuries of darkness is coming into the light – so rapidly that the truth is almost blinding. We must keep sharing our stories of sexual abuse, discrimination, and injustice, because for the first time, people are really listening. Men are listening. Your children are listening.

Do. Not. Stop. Keep talking. Keep sharing.

A new day is on the horizon.

Comments

Sandra T-B

Sandra T-B said:

I spent last weekend with 10 other women ranging from the age of 15 to 55, in a Model Mugging workshop, learning, training, witnessing, and supporting each other while learning about criminal profiles from actual cases, discovering we can transmute our fear into incredible power, and benefiting from 40 years of women and men before us. Then we hit the mat to experience and fight back in simulated assault and rape scenarios. Some of us were there to reclaim lost pieces of self and soul. Some of us were there to protect against them ever being taken. I got my ass kicked and kicked ass literally more times than I can remember. My body is bruised and aching as it never has before.

It didn’t take me long after returning home Sunday evening to notice on Facebook that something big happened with Oprah. I quickly found her speech on YouTube and snuggled up on the couch with my 12 year old son. Just hours before, he and my husband had been at my graduation and witnessed the model assailant (wearing 60 pounds of protective gear) throwing the filthiest, most hateful, most demeaning words and most violent physical actions against me and my classmates. There were simulated assaults from behind (the most common way women are attacked) and simulated night time home invasions (the hardest for me to watch and experience). My husband and son witnessed things I hope they never again witness and I never experience for real. It was emotional. It was beyond difficult. I didn’t want to go and I didn’t want to go back for the second day. It was a Hero’s Journey. We women had endured it all weekend, and we were honored to have friends and family there at graduation to witness the power our instructors had helped us excavate from deep within each of ourselves during the weekend.

To come home to her speech after that was grounding, another sign that goodness shall prevail and that the small steps I am taking are in alignment with this shift we are experiencing. To watch her speech with my son was a blessing and a cleansing.

It was a thoughtfully-considered and somewhat difficult choice to have my son at graduation. But not only did he want to see me in my full badass glory, I wanted him to see what girls and women endure and to do everything I can to make sure he stands as a warrior and behaves with honor, courage, and respect throughout his lifetime.

Someone told me a few years ago that such workshops are a waste of time, that it’s not possible to learn how to defend yourself in a weekend. I now know that is wrong. Such ego-based, self-righteous talk from men does nothing more than contribute to the oppression of girls and women and to the environment of fear and violence. It works to prevent us from even trying to fight back, thinking there is no point because we are not strong enough. True, we are not strong enough if we try to fight like a man. But we can break bones and deliver lethal blows when we fight like the warrior women we can all learn to be. I am thankful to those men who are doing their part to empower women and teach us how to fight for how our bodies are built. Not just because they have wives or daughters or sisters, but because they are good men.

After all of this, what do I know for sure? I know that—despite our best efforts and a training that pushed us beyond anything we thought possible—some of us might go down anyway, beaten and bloody. But at least we would go down fighting.

Their time is up.

Missy langholz

Missy langholz said:

I am a brand new member and I was not aware I would be exposed to political views. Could someone please confirm if this is the norm please?

Cindy Klang

Cindy Klang said:

I recently joined as I am a adventurous
and love new challenges. I am going to be 55 this month and I don’t want to slow down in fact I want to continue conquering all of my goals and much more. I am a mother grandmother and a wife. I am business woman and constantly learning something new everyday as my mom is dealing with dementia and her family of 13 is dying from this and cancer almost every year I have funerals yearly now it is sad but this our new normal as my in laws are 89 and 90 I see we have no state chapter in North Dakota but that is not going to stop me, from traveling with this great group. We have traveled and vacationed for many years I have been to many National Parks and Monuments even underwater parks and I will fight to keep them safe and accessible for all to visit. I love our Big Blue Planet! My special places that I love to visit are oceans mountains forests and unique rock formations. Traveled all but 13 states which are left on my travel map.
Spent time in Canada Mexico Puero Rico Aruba Virgin Islands love the Caribbean Sea. I have hiked trails swam with sharks manatees sea turtles many different fish rays barracuda seem to love me in every ocean repelled down a cave ziplining wild rollercoaster rides snorkeling some diving need to improve swimming in sunken volcano WOW I love adventures. I am a strong woman and I say constantly I went through Hell and made it out the other side. I will continue to fight and stay strong. I finally opened up to my best friend (husband) after 31 years of marriage and having not told anyone about my horrific ordeals as a child teenager and young adult. I am so glad I was finally able to get it all out after decades of silence. I was repressing all my emotions way to long. I feel so much better now but when the flood gates open you are drained and I slept a whole weekend and finally cried.
Speak about your me too’s! I feel every woman has some type of me too. My wish is for both my granddaughter and even my grandson to never have to say me too. I will fight so no child has to say this in their lifetime. I am a Fighter for our Earth, Oceans, Sea Mammals Land Mammals all creatures need our voices including my favorite Dogs even after I had my left ear bitten off by a dog in 2014 I continue to protect dogs and even cats. Some of my future goals are hike Glacier Yellowstone and Yosemite tough terrain or back country swim with a Whale Shark and Humpback whales Kayak with Orca’s and do more Paddleboarding. Hoping the Bold Betties will be my new adventure group. I am ready to conquer new land and waters.

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