In praise of stridency


Girl with microphoneI am, apparently, known for my directness.  I would like to think that I was just a straightforward northern lass and, as they say where I come from, ‘Shy bairns get nowt’ (for the meaning click here , I guess you are not from the north east of England 😉 ). Other ways people describe me; ‘calls a spade, a spade’.  So far so good, I guess that means that people are likely to trust where I am coming from.  I certainly try to do my best to speak truths and where I can ‘speak truth to power’.

But I do wonder whether that means you have nowhere to go.  What I mean is, is it like swearing all the time, you know where the shock value wears off?  I have been shouting out as loudly and clearly as I can for more than a decade about several issues relating to my work and other parts of my life.  For example, speaking up to senior nurses about the inexorable march of technology and its impact on nursing.  I don’t think I have ever been slow to speak out and often publicly too.  Yet I don’t always feel people are listening.

Sometimes it works, and people listen.  If you can match your voice to their ear, if you can get them to listen, really listen, to what you have to say, sometimes, sometimes you can change things.

38530579 - gestures in a contemporary version of butoh danceBut what happens when it doesn’t?  You know what I mean, when you have said it so many times and in so many different ways that you feel like a broken record.  You have reframed it as many ways as your imagination will allow you to.  When you have written about it, performed it, sung it and practically modern danced it….. What do you do? Do you accept you must be wrong and move on?

I call this ‘Giving Up’ and I am not sure its part of my character.  I must be one of those irritating people who continues with the same theme over and over.

I found myself shutting myself down a while ago on social media.  I felt my voice was changing and I was stepping into stridency.  But I have been reflecting that perhaps stridency has an undeserved poor reputation and stridency in relation to women certainly has; we are sometimes condemned for speaking in a higher pitched way than our male counterparts and sometimes described as shrill and screechy.

I think its time we reclaimed stridency!

So, what does stridency mean?

 ‘If you use strident to describe someone or the way they express themselves, you mean that they make their feelings or opinions known in a very strong way that perhaps makes people uncomfortable.’

Collins English Dictionary 

When I found myself being strident that is exactly what I wanted to achieve; I wanted to make some people feel uncomfortable.  Is that so wrong?  There are times when people have said things to me that have made me uncomfortable and almost always they have led to periods of healthy reflection.  Why should occasional stridency not achieve that?

I’ve reflected that, so long as stridency means that someone is making their feelings about something known in a very strong and direct way, as long as its not personally directed, or unkind, what the hell is wrong with that?

I think stridency has an undeserved bad name.

64977012 - elderly fighter

 

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