The other night my daughter (let’s call her V), correctly identified the breaking of wind with the above word.  While we found this uproariously funny at first, soon predictions of embarrassment set in as we contemplated her publicly announcing either of her parents’ social faux pas…or worse yet, a stranger’s!  Thus begins the conditioning to arbitrary social conventions.

“Don’t tell someone that they need better hygiene!”  “If they ask if their pants make their rear look big, lie!”  “And for goodness’ sake, don’t question other peoples’ opinions to their faces!”  Well, you get the idea: be nice at the expense of the truth.

I then realized that this could be the beginning of a slippery slope that can lead to the silencing of our citizenry.   Too often, we don’t speak up, or at least not in an effective manner.  I’m especially concerned about this regarding my daughter as I often see women being talked over in the class (or board) room.  I know this generalization doesn’t apply to all women, but there are documented studies about females and assertiveness (this behavior is reinforced by a variety of external factors).  I don’t want V to internalize a socially-constructed passivity that is often expected of women, especially at the behest of patriarchal values that still dominate our culture.

(The exception to this is what I like to call the ‘golden estrogen ration.’  At a certain female to male ratio—and I’ve been there—enough women outnumber the men (usually about 3:1) to the point where they feel free/safe/empowered/inscrutable motive to verbally cut loose and incidentally instill the fear of Gaia into whatever male schlep happens to be standing nearby who is usually cowed into a state of shock and awe. This isn’t a misogynistic criticism, but merely an observable phenomenon that can—and should—occur even in the absence of such a ratio.  I’ve listened to enough alpha (and beta, and zeta) males to know they’re full of crap and think other, more thoughtful input should be heard more often).

Bringing this back to my daughter, I want V to scream the truth, to make sure people know what it is and why it’s important.  I want her to face the truth about herself and in doing so become a better person than her father.  I want her to smack liars in the face with the truth (metaphorically), preventing them from getting away with their schemes.

I want her to do all this because as soon as we stop seeking and demanding the truth, we lose more than just our voice.  (It also allows things like the Patriot Act and the invasion of Iraq to happen).

So yell “farrrr” V, yell it despite how uncomfortable it might make some of us feel, because that’s when it is most important for the truth to be heard.