On the process of exercising our own voices

"...[T]he same thing happened to me that has happened to many other women who've set out initially to recover lost and silenced feminine voices. Too constrained or timid or plain bewildered to speak for ourselves, unready, perhaps, to open certain doors in our own consciousness, we take the part of another...and break her silence. It might be our mother or grandmother, a woman of our own ethnic background or religious tradition, or one who has undergone a significant experience that we have, too, like illness, divorce, conversion, or exile. We choose our alter egos carefully and practice ventriloquism under the guise of scholarship or journalism, and eventually, often before we realize what's happening, we've begun to exercise our own voices."

– Carol Lee Flinders
At the Root of this Longing: Reconciling a Spiritual Hunger and a Feminist Thirst

This rings true for me. For you?

I thought first of Faith's recent post on sexual harassment and fear, because she expresses anger on behalf of her younger sister in it — though I don't want to impose Carol Lee Flinders' analysis on her.

The incident that comes to mind from my own life: the sadness and anger I felt when I overheard my younger cousins assessing their bodies with the most ancient-sounding of sighs. Before I could recognize my own eating disorder as outrageous and grievous, before I could want health and peace for myself, I had to want it for them. And so I spoke about them, and a year later was ready to repeat my sentiments on my own behalf as well.

It is beautiful and right to become angry for others and advocate for them. And it is most beautiful and most right when it reminds us to expect and demand no less for ourselves — because it is consistent, because justice belongs to everyone, because we deserve no less than anyone else does. No less.

3 comments:

2/05/2012 6:57 PM  

Definitely agree with this. Partially, too, I think, for me it is the way I so often hear feminism branded as "selfish" and striving so hard to keep from being so. To a fault at times, I think, since I believe it's right also to become angry and stand up for yourself as well as others, especially when society so strongly discourages it.

Penny Sociologist 2/06/2012 6:57 AM  

Nice post, and I too agree with the sentiments expressed.

Holly 2/06/2012 8:24 PM  

Faith - Hmm, especially by anti-feminist Christians.

Penny - Thank you -- and thank you for your thoughts. Since she mentioned scholarship, and I'm curious, what did you write your dissertation on?

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