I went to a great talk today in my college, focusing on women of colour and intersectional feminism more generally. Hearing about the many ways in which women of colour are silenced and erased from mainstream narratives was truly an eye-opener, and made me rethink lots of things. I was most struck by something the speaker said about making space for others and for their voices. She emphasised the importance of listening to the experiences of others, particularly when they differ to your own. As a white woman, I cannot presume to know what it is like to be a Muslim woman, or a disabled woman, or a black woman. So why should I assume that I can speak for these women? They are infinitely better able to speak for themselves. And yet they are rarely given the chance to do this. Surely the best way to be an ally is to give them that chance.
Sometimes it’s not about leaning in; maybe instead it’s about sitting back and making space for those voices that are usually left out of the circle.