Tackling Taboo Talk

Alliterations aside (heh), part of why Whole Damn Woman exists is because I grew tired of being told things weren’t polite to discuss. I remember in the early days of my Instagram use, I shared I wanted to talk about bodies and sex and food and politics and sexuality and race . . . a friend replied, “You mean all the stuff that’s not polite to bring up over dinner?”

Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.

Think about it. We live in a constant relationship with our bodies, but we rarely talk about them. During a presentation this morning, I asked attendees if they were ever asked as kids, “How do you feel about your body today?” Or even “How are you feeling in your body today?” No one said yes.

Yet we’re also told, “Listen to your body.” Like how? No one teaches us that. But we can’t bring it up because talking about bodies is impolite.

The same goes for politics, which influences and affects literally everything we do. Yet it’s rude to talk about it because it’s supposedly divisive.

Sex? Literally how we are created.

Food? Literally how we stay alive.

Sexuality? Literally how we maneuver major relationships.

Race? Literally a part of how we encounter one another.

Yet we aren’t supposed to talk about these things? This is my problem. Calling such major topics “impolite” forces us into silence, which perpetuates hatred, violence, abuse, and ignorance. If we can’t talk about what massively affects us, how are we to tackle the problems?

Maybe calling it all “impolite” was by design . . .


Since the Black Lives Matter protests began, two sayings floated around: “Silence is violence” and “Silence means you’re complicit.” I want to add one.

Silence hurts.

Since June 1st, I’ve sent emails, Instagram direct messages, and texts asking my friends, loved ones, and colleagues to speak up, if they haven’t already. Some of those people gave nothing.

It’s not merely the silence that hurts. It’s the disregard. None of them have asked if I’m safe. None have asked if my family is safe. None have expressed shock or outrage over how George Floyd and countless other Black Americans have died. None have even said, “All lives matter” or “Make America Great Again,” which would at least let me know where they stand.

It’s total silence.

I know some are pretending the world is fine. Some don’t know what to say. But saying anything is better than silence. What’s wrong with saying, “I don’t know what to say”?

Sometimes, people need time to reflect, and I respect that. Though it feels like we’re into our fifth year of 2020, it’s only been seven days since I sent my first request for something other than silence. I and people like me have felt every emotion in those seven days. We’ve screamed louder than ever. We’ve shared resources, ideas, thoughts, tears . . . and yet, silence.

I woke up this morning feeling nothing but hurt. I am safe in my home. I am loved and protected. I am comfortable.

But all I wanted was for those folks to break that silence.

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