Let her speak.
A post first appeared in my Facebook newsfeed a while ago, and it recently came to mind again. I searched for it and re-read it and got goosebumps again just as I did the first time I encountered it.
I recommend reading the full story from Marilee Talkington here.
Talkington shares an experience she had at the 2017 World Science Festival in New York City. She sat in the audience of a high-profile panel discussion among some of the greatest minds in Cosmology, String Theory, and Physics-based Philosophy. It was a panel made up of five men and one woman.
Throughout the panel, Talkington became increasingly upset as she notices that Veronika Hubeny, a female theoretical physicist, is barely given a chance to share her views. In fact, when Hubeny is finally posed a question, the moderator proceeds to interrupt and speak over her rather than let her speak for herself.
For Talkington, this is the last straw.
“So at this point, after seeing very clearly that she was not going to be given space to speak and in fact having her own theories described to the audience by the moderator, I am in full outrage.
My body is actually beginning to shake.
The sexism is beyond blatant.
It is happening on stage and NO ONE, not a single other physicist or panelist is stepping in to say anything about it.
And I can hear other audience members around me, both men and women becoming more and more agitated with what is happening. Jim Holt, even at one point, asks Veronica a question and she laughs because he has been answering his own questions about her work...and he makes fun of her for 'giggling'.
So at some point while he is still talking about Her theories, I just can't handle it any longer.
With my hands shaking, I finally say from my seat in the 2nd row of the audience, as clearly, directly and loudly as possible;
"Let. Her. Speak. Please!"
The moderator stops.
They all stop.
The auditorium drops into silence.
You could hear a pin drop.
And then the audience explodes with applause and screams.”
Wow. What a powerful account of one woman standing up for another.
And for me, it’s a reminder to be an ally for those whose voices aren't heard. Not to speak for them, but to actively create the space so they can speak for themselves.