A few weeks ago, we started to talk about International women’s day in the office and the first thing that popped into my head were the words of “Kol Isha” (קול אישה). Literally those words mean “the voice of a woman” in Hebrew – in Judaism, “Kol Isha” is the concept that a man is prohibited from hearing a woman’s voice in song or prayer. Now, I won’t be discussing the actual concept; that is a topic I will let myself grapple with at another time. Rather, it made me think how we are using our voice as women.
My biggest shift in perspective when it came to girls, women and feminism, was when I stumbled across the phrase “I’m not like the other girls”! I had never given much thought to that sentence and even felt a sense of pride when I heard someone describe me like that when I was 10 years old. It took one of my favourite youtubers, when I was 15 or so, to mention why that shouldn’t be a compliment, for me to change my whole outlook on my fellow females. I never realised how I was not rooting for other girls, made sure to only identify with certain traits or interests and absorbed the nonsensical competitiveness between women society was feeding me.
It was that sentence and everything that followed it that made me understand how much I loved being a woman, being part of womanhood and therefore also other women. What did I gain from harbouring all those negative thought behaviours against others? Just heavy feelings and bitterness. But once I started working on myself and consciously changing my approach (which is not an easy task), my whole world became brighter. Love yields love, light yields light, feminism yields naches.
When I mentioned the words “Kol Isha” to a friend the other day, she thought I had said “Every Woman” (כל אישה), which phonetically sounds the same but is spelled differently in Hebrew. What a beautiful revelation I experienced in that moment. Not only am I now thinking about my voice and the voices of women but also about every woman. When I use my voice I want to do so for all women, I want my voice to help other voices, to amplify them and for them to amplify me. We have a duty and responsibility to not only lift our Kol Isha – our voice of a woman, but also to uplift Kol Isha – every woman. We ought to be living out loud – may our voices bring life to all those voices who went unheard or unnoticed before us and give them the stage we deserve. Because my song sings for you and your voice will be my favourite song.
הקול שלי בשביל כל אישה – My voice for every woman