Devin Brooks

The room was stifling.

I didn't know if the staff had forgotten to turn on the AC or if the financial service center was trying to save money. It certainly wasn't appreciated in the middle of hot, ugly summer in New York City.

I was working as a production assistant then, gaining credit and experience in film to take with me to my own projects.

The rest of the crew, the financial advisors and I had been waiting for over an hour for the shoot to resume. There was something wrong with the outlets we were using, and rather than move to another location, we waited. Waited in that stuffy, clogging heat. 

Finally, one of the executives started to review the script aloud. He came across a particular line of text and asked the room if the phrase was written correctly. As I had studied English in college and had written professionally before, I gave my opinion.

The expression on the man's face widened, first in amusement, and then in conceit. He turned to the rest of the room. His words were something along the lines of, "I'm taking advice from a girl." All sarcasm. I was twenty-one at the time.

I wish I could say this was my first experience. The ignorant girl didn't know that she shouldn't speak up in the presence of so many big men.

That's the thing. I'm not ignorant, and I certainly wasn't a girl. In fact, if I wasn't a girl, if I was, say, a boy, I can't help but feel the situation would have been dramatically different.

It doesn't even matter that I studied English, or that I was strong in my writing skills. What was wrong with answering a question that was posed to the room?

I didn't, however, say anything in my defense. I didn't say anything at all. That's the worst part: I felt that I couldn't speak up. I thought it would have been useless to try.

surprise: women still struggle

You would think that with the advent of such a strong women's movement, especially throughout the last century, we would be over this problem of male priority.

Of course not. While the #MeToo movement has unearthed some of the terrible ways in which men are still asserting dominance over women (and, hell, even other men), there are still subtle stings and mindsets geared to see women as inferior. 

Here's the thing: my experience wasn't just about what the man said. It's a reflection of the ways many men still view women as unequal, as laughable or cute for having the audacity to demand the same respect.

Is this applicable to all men? Absolutely not, but I have still found myself pressed into these situations time and time again.

For the most part, it comes down to the fact that I am an independent, dreaming woman with a voice and a mind to make my best life a reality. I speak loud and clear. I give my opinion. I tell people of my dreams and I make moves towards them everyday. I've found that this has made many men I've met uncomfortable.

But let me be clear: it's not as if some man is wagging a finger in my face and saying no, not for you. It is those finer moments, when I offer advice or opinion, when I receive a laugh or sarcasm as a response to speaking up, when my voice and dreams are weighed less carefully than those of a man's, that make me wary. 

There is a poison that exists still. That poison has many times tempted me to shut my mouth, to give in, to stop myself from daring to be everything that I want to be.

This, women, is why I, you, we, us, need to be strong and proud in finding our power.

women - speak

I'm not saying that we aren't already doing this, because we are. I'm saying continue. I'm saying keep going. I'm saying not to do as I did when I sat in that hot room and said nothing. Say something. Say something on behalf of yourselves, and say something on behalf of others. 

Listen: supporting your dreams means supporting all of you.

You make it all the way or not at all. Don't settle for being demure, and don't let other women settle either.

When you allow yourself to slip into that role even a little bit, when you let anyone tell you what to do and how to be, you change who you are. You change your inner dialogue, you change your mindset, and then you change your future. 

We are forward-moving, not backward. Progress starts with us, and our big, loud, beautiful voices. 

Sometimes our fight doesn't have anything to do with speaking. We can be loud by achieving our goals, by kicking ass, by smashing through the barriers that are still before us.

Here's how you make POWER happen

It's simple, really. Here's five starters:

1. Use your voice.

If you feel uncomfortable with a situation, don't teach yourself to stay silent, for yourself or for others. Speak.

2. Never settle (unless it's your decision)

If you want something, you take it. You have just as much right as anyone else to achieve the life of your dreams. If you feel it's in your heart and your best interest to stop and settle where you are, then that's your power. For those who feel pressured to do so and don't want to, full steam ahead.

3. Dream bigger.

If you think you can't possibly go farther, you can. Success is an ever-changing organism. What are some innovative, creative ways that you define and create your own continuing success? How do you deviate from what's expected of you?

4. Self-love is the biggest middle finger.

Before you can stand up for yourself, you have to stand up for yourself, against yourself. Limit your inner critic and learn to be forgiving and generous. This not only strengthens your confidence, but polishes your armor for the battle ahead.

5. Connect and strengthen your female relationships.

It's sad, but there's a lot of female antagonism that gets in the way of our progress. Finding and creating genuine relationships with other women is one of the best support groups you can have. Honoring your fellow female is honoring yourself.


Take your dreams, make your plans, and fly. And for goodness sake, don't let any man call you a girl.

What do you think? How do you find your power?




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