"My Anger Isn't an Attack" & Other Lines to Use When Being Censored

As a fourth year undergraduate student, I’ve been trying to get the most out of my last year here at Western. To me, this means being involved, frequenting shared student spaces, and engaging as much as possible.

What I’ve found, however, is that in many of the supposedly safe student spaces that exist, specifically the ones created to house extra-curricular involvement, is that the conversations are far from safe. Throughout the past semester I have been bombarded by a presence of “jokes” regarding mental health and race that were far from funny and wildly inappropriate. These spaces have been home to explicit anti-feminist and ignorant comments that have personally made me, as well as I’m sure many others, feel uncomfortable. Nonetheless, in many of these situations I have held my tongue in order to avoid censoring anyone else’s free speech, despite how uncomfortable the presence of that speech may be.

Recently, something happened that changed my perspective on the situation. For once, in one of my most regularly attended spaces, a well-thought, progressive and educated debate was taking place. The conversation was a dialogue between willing participants who were all given the opportunity to speak and be heard. I was one such participant and, after another participant made an argument to refute my stance, I began to question aloud whether or not they thought that their argument was valid when considered in context.

I, unfortunately, was unable to finish making this statement before being interrupted by a different individual present in the room who kindly mansplained to me that my question was an “attack” and told me that my comments were unwelcome in the space. I was censored. I was censored by someone who, in said space, held power and privilege. I was censored by someone who I thought would have been better informed. I was censored by someone who ought to know better than to silence anyone’s voice. What made it worse is that I was censored in front of a large group of peers in space where atrocious comments had been running rampant for months, even with this individual present.

Shocked and confused, I did nothing. I went home and stewed. Replayed the conversation over and over in my head. I tried to convince myself that he was right—that I was being aggressive. I tried to rationalize what he did. I tried to swallow my embarrassment for having not stuck up for myself. None of this worked, likely because I wasn't in the wrong.

Now, I’m left with my embarrassment for having not stood up for myself and defended my voice. All too often feminist perspectives are silenced because they make people feel uncomfortable. This was not the first time I have been censored. This was not the first time I have been censored, by a man, at an inappropriate time, in an inappropriate place, when I wasn't in the wrong. It will, however, be the last time it happens.

To anyone else who may have been in a similar situation, I am sorry that this happened to you. I can empathize with the confusion and embarrassment you must feel. So, for you, and for myself, I have built a toolkit of 15 lines you can use to reclaim your voice.

  1. My anger/asking/arguing isn’t an attack.

  2. Actually, I wasn’t finished with what I was saying. Let me continue…

  3. I don’t appreciate you interrupting me.

  4. Are you done? If so, I’m going to continue with what I was saying.

  5. If you were able to voice your opinion about my statement then I should be able to continue voicing my statement.

  6. Just because something isn’t pleasing for you to hear doesn’t mean that it is malicious.

  7. Are you trying to censor me?

  8. Isn’t it funny how I didn’t care to hear your attempt to censor me, yet I did.

  9. Do you feel powerful when you try to silence other people’s voices?

  10. Sorry to interrupt you while you’re interrupting me, but I’m actually going to continue what I was saying now.

  11. Next time you interrupt me can you make sure that what you’re going to say is more important than what I am already saying? I just don’t want to see my time wasted again.

  12. Can I finish?

  13. My voice is as important as yours.

  14. Actually, I was speaking to the group, not just you.

  15. “Yo, I’mma let you finish” but that was one of the worst censorship attempts of all time!

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