There’s a great post on Love Joy Feminism that deals with “back talk”. Now if you’re from the south, you’ve probably heard that phrase more than once; it may have also been termed as “back sassing”. Back talk is, put bluntly, when a child speaks back to one or both of their parents–or any other authority figure–and the adult in question doesn’t like it. It’s an offense to the eyes of most adults and is often a punishable offense.
However, in Libby Anne’s post, she speaks on how suffocated she felt, how trying to explain a troublesome situation to a parent only made things worse. In her case, she had more “spanks” added to her sentence. She felt stifled, like her opinion on things just didn’t matter.
I know that feeling quite well.
My mother did not tolerate back talk at all; if I said anything that she didn’t like, she dealt with me swiftly and pretty brutally. Her preferred method of discipline was physical, so I lost count of how many times I was slapped or spanked for “mouthing off”. In most cases, I was simply trying to explain things to her, to try and get her to actually listen to what I was saying. No matter how many times I tried, it didn’t work. It never worked. So after a while, I just shut up and took the punishment or muttered something unintelligible under my breath. There was no reasoning with her, so why should I even bother?
Fast forward to my young adulthood years. My mother, more often than not, would get angry and upset with me, demanding to know why I wouldn’t speak to her. In those years, I mostly kept to myself and had very little to do with my parents, even though I was still living in their home. She wondered why I was so much more open with my friends than I was with her. It all came down to one thing: my friends actually listened. It was easy to be open and honest with someone who actually gave a damn about how I felt about whatever might be going on. To them, my opinion mattered and even if that was only a little, it meant a lot to me. A common sense answer, I thought but it eluded my mother for a very long time.
To some parents, it eludes them still. But they may not know how damaging this is to a child. At least, not until it’s too late.