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When You Speak Up | Anita Hill 20 Years Later

When You Speak Up

  • By Eve Ensler


    When you stand,

    when you speak up, speak back

    speak out,

    when your voice trembles, throat chokes,

    brow sweats

    when you can’t walk away

    can’t sleep

    can’t pretend it didn’t happen, doesn’t matter

    when you were taught all along to be polite

    to not make a fuss

    not put yourself in the center of things

    when it’s so obvious, so unjust

    so crazy wrong you can’t imagine anyone could disagree

    when you have to say,

    have to go

    have to fight.

    When they come at you from unpredictable directions with every menacing tool,

    when they instinctively know

    your Achilles heel

    or pay researchers to find it.

    When they don’t say directly we are practiced sex harassers or we don’t want black people here or we think women should be seen not heard

    when they say instead you’re a lousy teacher, a scorned woman, narcissistic egocentric, sophomoric writer got hired on affirmative action, a hack,

    a whore.

    It doesn’t require tougher skin.

    It requires the suspension of skin.

    When nothing in your training

    as a women prepared you to be hated, despised, misinterpreted, misunderstood, undermined, reduced, shamed made to feel insane.

    Dark hole

    When you fall into it.

    When you tell yourself it isn’t fair, your life is hard, you already suffered enough.

    It’s true.

    When you tell yourself you didn’t choose it,

    yes you did.

    When the group you love more than your life calls you Judas and turns on you.

    When the dark hole suddenly grows spikes. Remember your heart is a piñata, you don’t get the gifts ‘til its smashed open.

    When you suddenly get hit with issues you never knew were issues which are not really issues except those in power have made them seem like issues—

    you didn’t come forward before, you went back to the room, you called him again.

    Power under attack is genius at diversion

    They have PhDs in it.

    When you want to withdraw deeper into the hole.

    When all the voices blur into one ugly voice and its somehow the same voice that told you once you were stupid or selfish or wrong and you are suddenly five and thirty five exiled then and now.

    You never got the rules.

    Cause power owns the rules and reinvents them as they go

    When hate is a blinding grenade in your path.

    When hate shrapnel’s in your mouth, your stomach, your soul.

    When no one can say anything to make it better. When you’re on your knees screaming out.

    When that moment comes, when you’re up against the wall.

    When you know you have no choice, when the pain is so intense it takes you somewhere else, it takes you out of you and you gets smaller and bigger than it was and you dissolve into the bigger stream and are suddenly connected to all the other ones—no one can touch you there

    When you know finally you are good and you didn’t mean more than to tell the truth, didn’t mean to hurt, didn’t mean to upset, but truth does that.

    Truth does that

    Friends help

    Insane laughter helps

    Letters of supporters help

    Dancing helps

    Screaming helps

    Chocolate helps

    I am over people in power

    I am over power

    When you speak up speak out speak back, when you find the words you melt power even if they appear to win then, you will never be afraid like that again. When you keep going and don’t give up, the world changes for a lot of people

    Women will speak up speak out speak back

    Women will know it is possible

    It is possible

    It is possible

    It is possible.