Silenced by men intent on controlling the conversation...

I have never experienced anything like this in my life. Silenced.

Being with two expat men—one in particular—who refused to let me speak. Who wanted to shut down every word that came out of my mouth.

Who shushed me, telling me I was “too loud”.

That was at the beginning. It should have been a red flag, but I saw it as funny. And it’s not like I hadn’t heard it before. I’m always getting shushed. Just not by a man who wanted to silence me because of his own view of himself.

Who told me to “wait my turn” because he was speaking, and it was clear that what I had to say wasn’t as important or interesting or valuable as what he had to say.

And then, finally, being accused by the one in particular of being “too emotional”… like that was a bad thing.

I left in disgust.

It should have been a red flag, but I saw it as funny. And it’s not like I hadn’t heard it before. I’m always getting shushed. Just not by a man who wanted to silence me because of his own view of himself.

Circumstances over the weekend meant that I was the last woman standing at a very pleasant social occasion that involved gin martinis and me even smoking a few cigarettes (10 to be exact, and I am ashamed about my slide into depravity).

I was the last woman left standing with two men, both younger than I. Men I didn’t know well.

I should have left as soon as it occurred, but I didn’t. Too many gin martinis had dulled my sense of outrage.

I also wanted to prove that what I had to say was worth hearing and of value… even if it meant I had to “wait my turn” to say it.

And I kind of found it amusing. In this day and age, this shut down still occurred? Really?

In the end, after the “you’re too emotional” thing I’d had enough. I said more people should be emotional because maybe the world would be a better place, that wars wouldn’t happen if people became emotional about them etc. etc. etc.

Then I told him that he was an unkind person. One of the worst kinds of people in my eyes.

Then I hugged the other man (because I actually liked him) and left.

In disgust.

To empty Hanoi streets, the safety of a motorcycle taxi with a kind Vietnamese driver, and warm air caressing my skin.

To sanity.

Last word

The pop psychologist in me tells me that the unkind man was both very intelligent and very insecure. He wanted to show everyone how smart he was by controlling the conversation. I have a feeling he doesn’t like women very much, especially intelligent, confident women like me. He could even be a narcissist. The other man—the one that I liked—was going along for the ride. Maybe he didn’t want to rock the boat. Maybe it was easier to go with the flow, even if that flow was lacking in empathy and emotional intelligence. I’m pretty sure, though, he knew that what was going on was not ok.


This is the 9th essay in the #52essays2017 challenge that I’ve set for myself this year. I’ll be writing (or trying to write) one personal essay a week: 52 in total. And I’m doing this because I’m the first to admit I’ve become a lazy writer: allowing guest posts and series and cross-posting to make up the bulk of content on The Diane Lee Project across 2016. The brave, fearless writing that readers admired and respected me for has all but disappeared. This year—2017—will be different. I’m reclaiming my voice—my write like a motherfucker voice! And if you are interested and want to join the #52essays2017 challenge, you can find out more information here, and join the Facebook group here


Photo credit: G. Henry via Visualhunt / CC BY-ND

Silenced #52essays2017 #Essay9

Diane Lee


Diane Lee is a fifty-something Australian author who quit her secure government job in 2016 because she was dying of boredom and wanted an adventure. Taking a risk and a volunteering job, she escaped to Hanoi, Vietnam and hasn’t regretted it. At all. Diane now works part-time for a social enterprise, and as freelance writer and editor. One day she hopes to marry a red-headed Irish or Scottish man named Stan.


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3 thoughts on “Silenced #52essays2017 #Essay9

    1. Thank you, my dear! I was a bit pissed about it, but I realised I was arguing with a personality. And it’s an argument that can’t be won. I’m all Frozen on this one… I’ve let it go.

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