Women in public speaking (PART 1)

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…STRAIGHT TALK WITH LAWRENCE MUSUNTE

PUBLIC SPEAKING: A Domain Traditionally For Men?

PHILOSOPHY Students are familiar with Philosophers like Plato, Immanuel Kant, Socrates, Aristotle, Rene Descartes, Karl Max, Thomas Aquinas, Confucius and many others. These famous Philosophers are all men.

Now, just before you conclude based on the above statement that our thinking was shaped only by male philosophers, history has recorded women philosophers like Hannah Arendt. Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) was a German Philosopher and Political Theorist. “There are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is dangerous” she wrote.

Ayn Rand (1905-1982) a half Russian, half American writer and philosopher. Quoting her words Ayn wrote – “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it is who is going to stop me?”

The challenge of women philosophers among other things was that women think emotionally rather than rationally. Because philosophy is a field of critical thinking, women who are already deemed emotional beings are already disqualified or disqualify themselves.

Public speaking, arguments and debates dominated philosophy. Women who were still regarded weaker vessels, home-makers and emotional beings are unlikely to pursue this field of public speaking because a woman can’t be seen arguing against men. Women winning against men, women articulating themselves in front of men goes against the cultural norms of those days, even now.

Most women in family gatherings and in corporate world come up with brilliant well thought through solutions, but are shot down, dismissed by male colleagues because to them a woman is incapable to think rationally.

Speaking in gatherings whether family or village is a duty for leaders in those cultures where men lead, and where women follow it’s difficult for women to consider public speaking.

Because rational thinking has to do with intellectual, critical thinking, women who are deemed emotional thinkers can’t be given space in public speaking because those who speak, lead. Those who listen and obey, follow.

Have you messed up an assignment from your boss and you said, “I thought….” and before you could finish your sentence your boss shouted, “I didn’t hire you to think but to do as told”.

More and more our culture is discouraging thinking. Thinkers are pushed away and their ideas frowned upon. We pride ourselves by these words, “why reinvent the wheel” and with these words our will to think is demotivated. We can’t make changes to the wheel, improve on the wheel or change the wheel altogether because we don’t have the will to think differently and independently.

Therefore, in a culture where women aren’t allowed to be leaders, public speaking remain predominantly a domain of male speakers unfortunately.

Truth is very few public speakers are philosophers or thinkers. We don’t want to reinvent the wheel, we tag along with Plato, Kant, Socrates, Karl Marx without critically applying our minds. Motivational speakers continue to recycle the same ideas from John C Maxwell religiously.

Coming back to women, I believe and know that there are many women out there who are thinkers. But thinking alone is not enough. One has to labor thinking with their intellect but most importantly convey, communicate, speak forth their thinking in a language of influence.

Those who think without writing or speaking go to their graves loaded with gold that was never offloaded. I speak to women to step out of their cultural, social, political and religious box of limitations and break the boundaries, break them rules!

TO BE CONTINUED NEXT MONDAY

STRAIGHT TALK will take a four pronged approach on Social Justice, Public Speaking and Relationships. The author holds a Degree in Theology from GWC, Cape Town, South Africa. He is married and blessed with two children and Pastors GFLC Cape Town Campus. He can be contacted on Mobile/Whatsapp: +27845517018, Email: [email protected] and Facebook: @ Lawrence Musunte

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