I can’t keep quiet
On January 21st, 2017, hundreds of thousands of people gathered for the Women’s March on Washington D.C., the now famous protest in response to President Donald Trump’s inauguration. The march demanded equal rights for women, but also for the other minority groups concerned by the presidential election. One of the largest rallies ever held, the Women’s March created a forum for the modern feminist movement. Symbols like the We The People campaign, the pink hat, and the empowering upraised fist came to be associated with the events of the day. The song “Quiet,” by Connie Lim (or MILCK) is another such symbol, and it has become a call to civic engagement for American women from Seattle to Boston.
When MILCK first wrote “Quiet” several years ago, she was told not to release the song. The ballad, she revealed in an interview with Allure, was written as a retelling of her experience with fear and empowerment. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, MILCK grew up with a double set of social expectations; one from her family, and one from the Americans around her. Put on your face, know your place, shut up and smile, don’t spread your legs – the first lyrics of the song represent the confining demands that were placed on her as a woman in America.
Following the events of the presidential election however, MILCK decided that she had to share her song with the world. In a time when American women, MILCK, and myself included, are wondering whether our voices will be heard in this administration, “Quiet” validates our fears and then dissolves them by calling us to action.
The lyrics of “Quiet” embody the spirit of not only the Women’s March itself, but of the uncrushable spirit of the women in our country. It addresses the challenges we face and the fears that hold us back, and empowers us to break through the fear and speak up for ourselves. Many American women, especially teenagers, are hesitant to voice their opinions because our society often labels outspoken women as “aggressive” or “pushy” – MILCK sings openly about these feelings, refusing to hide even her fear.
But no one knows me no one ever will,
If I don’t say something if I just lie still –
Would I be that monster scare them all away,
If I told them what I have to say
Those lyrics pierce right through me, and strike at the heart of my fears. As I cross the line into adulthood, it is dawning on me that people won’t be asking me to raise my hand – if I have a message to spread, I have to voice it on my own. Chances are the world isn’t going to like everything I have to say, and I will be reprimanded more than once for being an outspoken American woman – I will be that monster. As I’ve struggled to come to terms with that, “Quiet” has reassured me of the importance of speaking out anyway:
I can’t keep quiet, no
A one woman riot, oh
I can’t keep quiet
MILCK’s lyrics have calmed my fears of facing judgement from the world, and have empowered me to fight for the things I believe in. Women like me all over the United States are discovering the inner strength to stand up and demand equal rights; we can’t keep quiet anymore, and “Quiet” is giving us the power and the reminder to engage our world and fight to make it a better place.
The soulful lyrics of “Quiet” relieve our fears of expressing ourselves, but it also encourages us to actively engage in our communities. The song comes to a climax when MILCK sings
Let it out, Let it out
Let it out now
There’ll be someone who understands
MILCK’s notes appeal to that urge inside each of us to let it out, to tell the world how we feel and to fight for the change we want to see in our society. The song asks every woman to share what they have to say, pleading with us to show everyone how powerful we truly are. MILCK also reminds us that, no matter where you are or how isolated you feel, none of us is alone. Each one of us is fighting to reach the same goal of equality, and when we feel alone and unheard, There’ll be someone who understands.
The empowering message of “Quiet” could not have come at a better time. The 2016 presidential election was one of the most controversial in our history, and it has raised a lot of debate on topics covering immigration policy to reproductive rights and everything in between. The candidate’s attitude towards women and women’s rights created upheaval on more than one occasion, and it was a deciding factor for many people when they went to vote. Millions of women in America were downright afraid of the results of the election and many women, myself included, have become concerned about the future of our rights and social standing in America.
MILCK recognized this fear, and it motivated her to finally release “Quiet.” She first performed the song at the Women’s March in a way that unified all the women present. As the women’s march approached, she reached out to 23 women across the country and asked them to debut the song with her in D.C.. The women rehearsed the piece online, preparing for the event. The http://now famous video of their performance was not only the first time they had sung together, but the first time any of these women had met each other. The performance was, and is, a reminder to all of us that we can make anything happen when we work together to fight for our rights. Together we can change the world we live in.
“Quiet”’s achingly beautiful melody is still shaping the way American women are looking at their place in society. As the song gains popularity, MILCK’s message of courage and empowerment is reaching a wider audience, and is causing women everywhere to rethink the way they perceive the world. The original video recording of the Women’s March performance went viral, quickly reaching a national platform. MILCK released a music video accompanying the song, a visual story equally as powerful as the song itself, and performed “Quiet” live on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. Women around the world share their stories of empowerment with the hashtag ICan’tKeepQuiet, a tag now synonymous with the Women’s March as well.
In today’s political climate, MILCK’s single “Quiet” calls on American women to speak out and become engaged in our communities. By acknowledging the fears and doubts we have about doing this, the song becomes relatable to its audience, and allows us to hear the message of her song. She promises that we are not alone in our search for equality, and that when we feel isolated and alone, there will be someone else who is fighting alongside us. With every chord we are encouraged to take the risk, fight for our beliefs and above all, to make our voices heard.
I can’t keep quiet
~ For the readers of a women’s life magazine (Live Happy, Darling, Cosmopolitan) ~