Silence

Habitat #7: Silence

I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a woman. I cannot deny that being a female has certain impacts on the relationship I have with people around me, and on how I was perceived by society. I was taught since I was a young girl that the most honorable thing a woman can do is to become the perfect wife. The wife who goes to bed after her husband to makes sure all the chores are finished, and the wife who wakes up before her husband to make sure that everything he needs is ready for him. The wife who behaves well, who brings honor to the family. The wife who is excellent at all crafting, cooking, and cleaning jobs, but also great at out-of-the-house jobs (to help with income.) The wife who listens to her husband and does not speak of anything that may bother him or any other man. The wife who trusts him with all the decisions and does not question his action.

…the wife that I decided not to be.

Working in the field of architecture makes the issues of women’s expectations and how society sees us even more apparent. Denying it all you want, but architecture is just like many science fields, it is still white-male dominant.  I was a leader of an architecture student group; students selected me because they know that I qualified. However, the validity of my knowledge always comes into question when I meet with clients. I found that people sometimes ignored my input, but then they would listen to another student even though that person was simply repeating my answer. Maybe it is just in my head, maybe I am crazy, maybe I am too young for the job, maybe it is the way I dress, it might also be my race, or gender, or all of the above. I can never know.

Similar issues have been happening worldwide from the scale of a household to the world political stage and it makes me wonder why women’s voices are not heard. Is it because we speak too low?  Is it because we were too nice when speaking? Is it because we don’t know how to speak? Is it because they did not let us speak? Or is it because they choose to ignore us?

Personally, I think the biggest problem is when they choose to ignore us. The receiver has the most power. No matter how much you try to send out the message, if the other person refuses to take it, they would never get it.

This “Habitat#7: Silence” painting was part of the Habitat painting series that I created in 2012. All the paintings in the series were influenced by my involvement with humanitarian architecture. This painting was also published in the 2013 IVORY TOWER magazine.

by Beau Sinchai

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14 thoughts on “Silence

  1. sonyakuzy says:

    Beau,
    Thank you for your honesty. Unfortunately, I think a lot of fields are still this way. It has NOTHING to do with who YOU are, and all to do with how society has groomed the receiver. Continue being the smart and strong woman you are!

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  2. I def go through this dealing with just simple conversations. I have noticed that most of the time, one on one with a male talking about a serious issue, it is easier to get through to them. But once another male gets involved, my voice gets heard less and less. I too, wondered if I was talking to quietly. Its funny because in my situations, these men actually respect me alot, they just dont even notice their actions.
    What I have noticed studying these interactions, is, they seem to interrupt each other rather then listen all the way through, as I realized I listen a little more… So then I never, or hardly get a chance to chime in… but the sad thing is, I have noticed myself doing the same thing when it is me, a male, and another women at times. its a weird thing to notice, but I really appreciate this article because it is helping me notice when I do it as well. thanks. so true.

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    • BeauSinchai says:

      Totally agree! It is worst when you know that the men didn’t have the intention to ignore you. I brought it up to my friends’ attention a couple of times. Sometimes they actually thought about it and agreed with me. Other times…they told me to “speak like a bitch” and talk louder. So, basically my opinion doesn’t count unless I speak with angry and loud voice…because that makes so much sense and it is such a civil thing to do.

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  3. lexismanzara says:

    Wow Beau I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate this article. It’s so personal and particular to you but at the same time I can apply it to so many other contexts. I especially like the part about deciding not to the wife that you described. That’s something I feel strongly about, even though I did not grow up with those ideas I still feel the pressure of them so I can’t imaging how hard it might be for you.

    And to both of you what you said is so true! About how one-on-one its fine, but as soon as another guys comes in the conversations immediately shifts and it becomes infinitely harder to get a comment in. Amy I noticed myself doing it too and to me it’s such a horrible feeling. I feel like if I am am doing it subconsciously and its that difficult to change I can’t even imaging how hard it will be to change this on a large scale.

    From now on I’m going to consciously try and speak up even when that happens and change conversation dynamics! Whoo!

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    • Jenna says:

      I agree, I often feel the same way in male dominated settings (including casual conversations). I have brought it up a few times but in those occasions, not all but most, I feel like I usually get labeled the “extreme feminist” or that I am being overly sensitive. It’s always a bit of a dilemma in choosing battles for me. The way to go about this confrontation is important to think about as well.

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      • lexismanzara says:

        Ooh this kind of goes along with the article I want to write! I want to start a discussion about how to respond to sexism, both overt and when people say things unknowingly. A lot of times I don’t say anything because it either catches me off guard or I have no idea what to say.

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      • BeauSinchai says:

        Yep, got it every time with being overly sensitive thing. I ended up learning that the right friends will actually try to understand why it bothers me, when the wrong friends would never really care about how it may make me feel.

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    • BeauSinchai says:

      Lexis, can’t wait for the article about how to respond to sexism. I think most people still don’t understand how the things they do are considered sexist.

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      • Jenna says:

        I agree! That will be a very useful and practical article. Confrontation is so important and good strategies are important to talk about.

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      • lexismanzara says:

        I’m excited to write it! I’m hoping that others will share similar experiences and we can all pass around some strategies 🙂

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  4. Magdalena says:

    Have yall ever brought up the group dynamic thing when you’re in the group? Certain male friends of mine treat me differently depending on the setting we’re in and I haven’t ever confronted them about it but I wonder if that’s something I should do and, if so, how I should do it. I spose that’s something you’ll touch on in your article. Today I mentioned this post to some male housemates of mine and they jokingly said they felt offended but overall made me feel heard. I was glad I brought it up with them.

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  5. lexismanzara says:

    Wow good for you for bringing that up! I don’t think I’ve done it in that setting before. I hadn’t thought of including that, but I definitely will. I feel like it’s especially hard to bring up when they are well-meaning like your friends

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  6. meganleys says:

    Thank you Beau for writing and sharing this!!! I struggle with this a lot in multiple environments but honestly I never know if it’s me just making it up in my head or it’s the reality. I always wonder if I should say something… but get disappointed when I realize I don’t know what I should say to approach the situation in the best way possible. Hearing others express similar situations makes me want to and understand the importance of saying something.

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