“Women should be seen and not heard.”
That was the message I heard growing up.
I was taught – in ways both overt and subtle – that it was more important for “good” South Asian girls and women to “look good” (by conventional and colonial beauty standards, ugh) than to develop our voices.
So it is both professionally exciting and personally meaningful that today, the audio version of my book Inclusion On Purpose was published – and I recorded it. In my voice!
(How’s that for being seen and heard?!)
You can purchase the audiobook and hear me read to you on Audible. If you do, thank you so much.
I also want to thank you profoundly for your patience. I regret that it took so long to release the audiobook, and it pains me that so many people were waiting to get their hands (or ears, I suppose) on the audio version. Having an audio version is KEY to being inclusive to all communities and I acknowledge that I should have done better to ensure my book was accessible to as many as possible. Please accept my humble apology.
I hope it’s worth the wait!
Is it a Non-Western Thing?
I’m musing on the “women should be seen and not heard” message. Is it unique to growing up in a traditional Indian family? To Singapore? To Asia and the Asian diaspora?
If you live in North America or Europe and believe the answer is yes, I’m not surprised. There’s a false belief in the U.S. at least that in other countries (read: non-western ones), the plight of women is to be subservient and silenced.
Yet when I moved to the United States I found no escape from the “be seen but not heard” message. I can’t tell you how many times in the corporate workplace I was told – in ways both overt and subtle – not to say anything, not to speak up, that my career growth and success would take a hit if I used my voice.
The women of color I interviewed while researching Inclusion on Purpose confirmed that they’ve had the same experience.
I imagine that white women experience this message too – but nowhere near to the extent that women of color do. That’s why I center the intersecting identities and experience of women of color. Always.
So yes, recording this audiobook is a personal and professional milestone. Not only because it contradicts the harmful and silencing messages many women of color experience, from within our communities and outside.
Recording this audiobook was also a powerful experience because I had to be intentional about how I was working.
The final audiobook is over 8.5 hours long, and it took three full days to record in a studio. Mentally, I knew it would be a marathon and not a sprint. That was challenging for me! My inclination is often to “power through” and “get the job done,” no matter how exhausted I am. That wasn’t an option here, as I didn’t want to lose my voice and delay the project.
I had to pace myself.
On the practical side, I prepared for recording by embracing Ayurvedic practices: I ate teaspoons of honey with haldi (turmeric). I drank warm rather than hot liquids. I avoided dairy products and vinegar. And I spent the 30 minute drive to the studio taking deep, calming, navel breaths that true yoga practice (and not the whitewashed version!) teaches.
I am proud of how the audiobook turned out, humbled that I have the opportunity to share my voice with a wider audience, and deeply grateful to you for encouraging me and sending me notes and comments. For being such a supportive and uplifting community.
And if you need to hear it today: your voice matters. The world needs your stories. You are enough – right here and right now, today – to share what’s in your heart and on your mind.