Monday, 16 April 2018

Wise Words: Breaking Our Silence

The public censure of women as if we are rabid because we speak without apology about the world in which we live is a strategy of threat that usually works. Men often react to women’s words—speaking and writing—as if they were acts of violence; sometimes men react to women’s words with violence. So we lower our voices. Women whisper. Women apologize. Women shut up. Women trivialize what we know. Women shrink. Women pull back. Most women have experienced enough dominance from men—control, violence, insult, contempt—that no threat seems empty. 

(Andrea Dworkin, Intercourse, Twentieth Anniversary Edition, Basic Books: New York, 1987/2006, pp. xxx–xxi)

Some women get erased a little at a time, some all at once. Some reappear. Every woman who appears wrestles with the forces that would have her disappear. She struggles with the forces that would tell her story for her, or write her out of the story, the genealogy, the rights of man, the rule of law. The ability to tell your own story, in words or images, is already a victory, already a revolt. 

(Rebecca Solnit, ‘Grandmother Spider’, in Men Explain Things to Me, Haymarket Books: Chicago, Illinois, 2014 p. 78)


Overcoming the silencing of women is an extreme act, a sequence of extreme acts. Breaking our silence means living in existential courage. It means dis-covering our deep sources, our spring. It means finding our native resiliency, springing into life, speech, action. 

(Mary Daly, Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism, Beacon Press: Boston, 1978, p. 19)


  1. sigh. being a woman, and a feminist, and an eco-feminist, is to exist in a perpetual state of "one step forward, two steps back"... every time we see a bit of progress in the larger culture toward greater inclusivity, greater equality, or greater sustainability (for women, people of colour, indigenous peoples, LBGTQ people, environmental protection, wildlife, etc)---it seems we then see a backlash to it. there is a very strong, old, vicious element that wants---needs---women and others who have been disenfranchised to SHUT UP. to remain quiet, compliant, and scared. but to remain silent is to participate in the vivisection of one's self and/or others...

    over and over, we have to find the strength to speak.

    it's exhausting.


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