to the women who's been told to be quiet

A Letter To All Women Who Have Been Told To Quieten Down, Speak Softer and Be Less Angry

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Guest Post by ~Mohadesa Najumi~

Dear woman who has been told to quieten down, speak softer and be less angry all of her life,

You thought if you spoke less, and in a softer voice he wouldn’t notice the anger oozing out of your lungs in the form of words.

You feel like fire in an ocean.

Most days you question yourself. Interrogate yourself as if you are a felon on trial for having a big mouth.

You question whether you are too loud, too opinionated and too damn angry.

You have been taught to accommodate, absorb and the back of your neck aches sometimes from nodding so much.

Every question you ask in class begins with “sorry”.

You are always made to feel like you are infringing with your opinions. As if your words are a burden to bear.

I know you. I know who you are, how you feel and what goes through your intricate mind. I am you.

You’ve been told that your anger is counter-productive. That you’re just wasting your energies and (this part hurts the most) that you have too much passion.

You don’t understand how anyone could have too much passion.

You wonder if your brother, male colleagues and friends are told that they are too passionate.

You recall your mother telling you to speak less while your brother dominated the dinner table discussion. They called him “confident” and you“firey”. You wondered why he had to be ocean, and you had to be the fire.

You’ve practiced speaker softly in the mirror, but even then you didn’t recognize yourself in the reflection and hated yourself for trying to change.

This way you’ll find a man. You said. No one wants a girl who’s all fire. You told yourself.

You promised yourself that you wouldn’t get so angry so quickly.

You fixed a vapid, smile on your face, but even your cat wasn’t convinced of it.

You made goals that you’d exhale, re-think and before you say something that sounds angry. It never worked.

One day you met a man who smiled when you raised your voice and watched your tongue as it rolled around inside your mouth as if he was observing artwork. He loved your fire.

But, even he questioned your loudness. Asked you to be less rough around his mother and friends. He shouts at you now and then. But, you tell yourself that you deserve it.

No one can contain your passion, anger and spirit. It is yours and it adorns you. You hate having to stifle it for anyone.

The worst part about being less angry is all the hard work it would take. Anger is a permanent tenant in your body.

All the years of having to suppress your sexuality for others, the doubts about your body, the pressure from everyone around you to be a lesser version of yourself. How can you not be angry?

Were you expected to watch with glistening eyes as your father planted bombshells in the heart of your mother? The shrapnel hit you hard and you cried every time you saw your mother wince from the injury.

Your teacher, your congregation leader, your uncle, they all said you were too much to handle. How will she possibly hold down a husband with that kind of attitude? They mocked. You just stood there thinking about how you would prove them all wrong.

All the arguments with men who insist that you are overreacting.

The countless times you’ve been called “dramatic“.

The exclusion. The loneliness. The isolation.

But, your spirit, your fire, your anger will always prevail.

To the woman who has been told to quieten down, speak softer and be less angry all of her life, you are my heart in human form. I wouldn’t want to be in a world where you don’t exist.


Mohadesa Najumi is a writer, an aspiring political scientist and intersectional feminist. Her work has been featured in the Huffington Post, CounterPunch and GreenLeft Weekly. Her research interests include democratic theory, post-representative societies, political power and inclusion, intersectional feminism, women’s rights, existentialism philosophy, gender binaries, secularism, challenging the traditional, liberal paradigm, post-colonialism, development, Latin America, MENA, U.S foreign policy and global social, resistance and revolutionary movements. Mohadesa blogs regularly here and tweets at @mohadesareverie.


**Posted with permission from Mohadesa.  Thank you, again, for sharing your beautiful talents!

Read Mohadesa’s other guest post here:  To the Woman Who’s Made to Feel Like She’s Difficult to Love

See her on Huffington Post here.

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Kim says September 19, 2019

I just read that letter. It took me back to my childhood where I was always stifled. Never allowed to express my opinion or views. I seemed to feel wholly inadequate or lacking something. My father was the narc and mom was the subservient caretaker. There were 6 of us, 2 brothers 4 sisters. I was the lower middle child. Always overlooked. My father never told me that he loved me. There was no affection. Mom was a stay at home mom. There was a movie called “Conspiracy theory ” with Julia Roberts and Mel Gibson that stated it pretty well. It was, “Baden Powell the boys and Betty Crocker the girls. This was exactly how it was when I was growing up. This letter sure brought up some painful childhood memories. My husband thinks I should wait on him and not speak. He’s made sure I have no friends. Only his. And he controls who likes me or not. He tells them things to keep us distant. When I ask about a certain person, their aloofness, he tells me I’m to loud or opinionated. And I’m just having a quiet conversation with them.
Thanks for the enlightening letter. Helps me understand much better.

Kim says October 3, 2014

When I read this I was captivated by the beginning and was then consumed with recognition as if this were someone writing from my internal experience. Thank you for sharing this wonderfully open and enlightening work. I too have been told and still get told at 48 years that I am ‘too………’ You know what ??
I am enough and I am me and I don’t really care anymore for other’s judgements based on their own fears, insecurities and distastes. I am me. Love me and leave me be or simply leave.

Shannon says October 2, 2014

<3 <3 <3

Elisabeth says October 2, 2014

At last I mostly said ‘hum hum’ to everything he said. Now I don’t do that anymore. I can answer and say what I want.

irenedesign2011 says October 2, 2014

Great post 😉

    Kim Saeed says October 2, 2014

    Yeah, I really like Mohadesa’s writing 🙂

Angela says October 2, 2014

That was an awesome read. My ex narc uses to tell me all the time to lower my voice bc I talked and laughed too loud….but yet he would have the t.v. on full blast..go figure. It seemed as if he hated to see me happy.

    M says July 31, 2023

    I agree, Angela. My (possible) narc is an odd fellow indeed. He seems bothered if I show happiness too.
    Like if I laugh or smile, he will seem offended by that. We have been to concerts where people are singing and everyone is having fun…except him. He just sits there with this weird attitude and it kills the vibe. It makes me feel self-conscious that I’m an embarrassment to him, although I’m not doing anything wrong.

    It’s just strange behavior. Some people don’t like to see others enjoying themselves and simply living life.
    I’ve been surrounded by these types my whole life…family, so-called “friends” and even strangers.

    I want to simply be me…free to smile, sing and dance, wear clothing that makes me feel attractive without him (or other people) trying to put me down.
    Like the other day we were going to dinner and I wore a nice dress that wasn’t revealing at all. He looked at me with what can only be described as disdain. It’s extremely hurtful when this happens. He loves to criticize women (just like his father does) and when he looks at me that way, even without saying anything, it hurts.
    I keep myself in shape and my clothes are modest compared to what many other women wear. So I don’t know what his problem is.

    Narcs are weird.

Deedra says October 2, 2014

This post made me cry. Thank u for it.

    Kim Saeed says October 2, 2014

    You’re welcome, Deedra…Mohadesa is truly a talented writer and I enjoy sharing her work.

    Hugs <3

CPK says October 2, 2014

With the narcissist either can be wrong. If you keep your mouth shut the narcissist wonders what you’re keeping secret. If you voice your opinions your “mouth” is not appreciated. I think the key to recovery is to find one’s true voice…not the reactionary, but the responsive. This is a great article because I think it points to the greatest of all dishonors…the narcissist isn’t listening to your heart, and could care less about it.

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