Well Behaved Women Don't Make History.
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Politics and Activism

You Don't Have To Be A Loud, 'Rule Breaking' Woman To Make History

The erasure of introversion and/or shyness.

You Don't Have To Be A Loud, 'Rule Breaking' Woman To Make History

This piece will mark one year of pieces I've submitted for Odyssey. My very first piece shed a bit of personal light on a controversial topic. To start off another year of writing with Odyssey, I wanted to cover the topic of introversion in a different sense. How the dismissal of those who are quiet are what's preventing a different type of role model profile to emerge.

You've seen the title quote in some form or heard it around. It's a slap in the face to those of who want to make a difference in the world, but yet are introverted and/or shy. It's hard being an introvert/shy in an extroverted/assertive world. Which was why when Susan Cain published "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking," she became a hero to all of us who had no idea we could make a difference in the world because we are quiet.

Even when it comes to conveying my feelings in a romantic safety situation, I find I cannot process how to express myself without feeling like I'm being bossy or demanding or intimidating. I find people only want to communicate on their terms, and they either don't realize or don't take the time to access alternative means of communication and emotional signals. What is common sense to one person may not be common sense to another, and this is especially true of introverted/shy common sense vs extroverted/assertive common sense.

For example, in the kink/BDSM scene, when one wants to play with someone, a negotiation takes place beforehand. Now, one-on-one interactions are ideal for a great number of introverts and shy individuals, but what if something goes wrong during a scene? One is expected to disclose immediately and tell their partners how to proceed or to just stop altogether. This may seem like a Safety 101 No-Brainer, but this is actually pretty terrifying to someone introverted and/or shy. What if they don't stop? What if they continuously coax you into more because they sense you're afraid to say no? What if the play partner stops the scene due to frustration with you and not only never plays with you again, but also tells others to stay away from you too?

A good majority of the time (it feels like 100% for me) when an introverted and/or shy individual stands up for themselves, the backlash is worse than the threat to our autonomy. "Why you have to be so mean?" "Why does that bother you?" "Why are you being so difficult?" "It's not that hard!" "That's easy, why are you having such a hard time with it?" "That's common sense!" "That's stupid."

There's never a consideration that though some of us are extremely humble and just have subtle means of communication. We are looked over and avoided for play interactions because we don't communicate the way the world of extroverts and assertive personalities want us to.

People think that introverted/shy women don't make history because of our personalities; however, three years ago, this piece was written with a very similar title to this piece. Though it was great and useful to attribute the original quote to its rightful owner, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, as I predicted, there wasn't even an attempt to research if there WERE any quiet women of note in history to try and dispel the validity of the quote. So my piece here will hopefully do just that.

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

\u201cWell-behaved women seldom make history.\u201c

It's ironic to me that the woman who coined this quote was not extroverted or assertive. She leads a quiet life doing what she is passionate about for a career. Her literary work even delves into the every day of a quiet person.

Annie Edson Taylor

Annie Edson Taylor next to barrel

Annie needed some money, so on her birthday decided to travel over Niagra Falls in a barrel. Unfortunately, in true introvert fashion, she was barely noticed and consequently died pennilessly.

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson Poetry

Ms. Dickinson has ALWAYS been a role model of mine. Not only for her incredible poetry, but also because she lived my introvert's dream. She never left home; just wrote letters to those she cared about. She was so secretive that it's not even 1000% certain what her sexual orientation was. She quietly made history by publishing her masterpieces anonymously, and when they were heavily edited or published without her permission, she withdrew her genius from the world and shared with friends.

Susan Cain

Susan Cain book

The author of "Quiet" had to end up here on my little list because she gave myself and the current generation of introverts and shy people a recent role model. She's done right by so many people that it would almost be a crime to not pay a little homage to her. The amount of research and data collection and self-assessment it must have taken to complete this project while still staying true to her introvert roots deserves an award.

I'm sure there are many more. Yet their names are probably buried under the hundreds of extraordinary extroverted and assertive women that got the attention their ways. Most likely the women on my short list endured much social death due to not openly and actively and brazenly fighting to achieve the little things they wanted. Not including those kinds of struggles in addition to the struggles of actually achieving their goals perpetuates a narrative that only women who extroverted and assertive can make history. These women are neither, and they made history. These are my role models.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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