WOMEN WHO ANSWERED THE CALL TO SPEAK
Kathleen Hoy Foley
Writing is dangerous because we are afraid of what the writing reveals: the fears, the angers, the strengths of a woman under a triple or quadruple oppression. Yet in that very act lies our survival because a woman who writes has power. And a woman with power is feared.
In the transformation of silence into language and action, it is vitally necessary for each one of us to establish or examine her function in that transformation, and to recognize her role as vital.
It is not simply that the voices of working-class people and people of color have been stifled; they also have been unheard and rendered unhearable, aurally erased. And the dominant group, too, has been damaged in the process, deprived of access to crucial experience and ways of seeing…
In addition to taboos against speaking and publishing what is regarded as unspeakable, the writer faces her audience’s resistance to hearing… (the) work calls into question our ways of keeping at arm’s length what makes us uncomfortable. At its most powerful, (the) work often impels us to in-corporate the pain of violation, to take it into our own bodies where it can force us to respond. It implicates us…in the struggle to give voice to the horror and the determination to end it.
Whatever might exist that is completely outside of human language, that is completely other, can paradoxically be approached or approximated only through language.
Why are so many more women silenced than men?
But woman is learning for herself that not self-sacrifice, but self-development, is her first duty in life; And this (is) not primarily for the sake of others, but that she may become fully herself.
~~Matilda Joslyn Gage
Remembering and telling the truth about terrible events are prerequisites both for the restoration of the social order and for the healing of individual victims.
~~ Dr. Judith Herman
I had an abortion.
What if I tell you, you are not different
it’s the family albums that lie
Only women die one by one, attempting until the last minute to embody an ideal imposed upon them… Only women die one by one, smiling up to the last minute, smile of the siren, smile of the coy girl, smile of the madwoman. Only women die one by one, polished to perfection or unkempt behind locked doors too desperately ashamed to cry out. Only women die one by one, still believing that if only they had been perfect…they would not have come to hate life so much, to find it so strangely difficult and empty, themselves so hopelessly confused and despairing.
Most harm that can befall victims through violence can come to them also through deceit. But deceit controls more subtly, for it works on belief as well as action.
“She feels alone, burdened by a weight she could never shake off. Even today, she feels a knot in her stomach as she writes, finding it hard to put words together, preferring to forget and not be consumed anymore by memories. She feels that by speaking of her father, and above all by speaking of the half-open door he never let her shut, she has in turn opened up a dangerous gap in her tale…”
When incest is covert (in cases of intrusive voyeurism, sexually colored ridicule of a child, and sexually motivated exposure), it does not involve physical contact. However, the dynamic is always sexual misuse, both of the authoritative power and of the legitimate need for closeness over a child who is unable to resist.
strung like bloody beads across my throat,
my disembowelment, my seppuku—
twisting from the open wound
Rage is not a "stage." It is not something to be gotten over. It is transformative, focusing Force. It is her broom, her Fire-breathing, winged mare. It is her spiraling staircase leading her where she can find her own Kind, unbind her mind.
How do you break out of a restrictive cultural milieu? How to know you are in a bubble, and life—the real life you are meant to live—is taking place elsewhere?
~~Dr. Gayle Wurtz
But she had made art!
Somehow, sick or well, every day…
who is having trouble
making art of this.
To anybody who asks me who I think I am to tell political bigwigs, captains of industry, and religious honchos where to get off, I answer: Who do I have to be? I am the Domestic Goddess, you impertinent creature, you!
I imagined the hostile response I’d get… “Who does she think she is?” …it turned out not to be like that… The world…turned out to be much, much bigger... …full of…sisters and brothers although we had never met, who were there to welcome me coming out of the shadows, and who wanted to throw off the shadows that obscured their own lives, too. My small voice was answered by a rich chorus of voices: my voice, which had once had been mute! Of all the places where my story might start…it started itself at a point in my life when I could not speak at all…
All silence has meaning.