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"Invisibility is an unnatural disaster"

Speaking to "My Challenge"

Growing up I never said very much. Partly because I never had to -- my father and my brother did it for me. And partly because no one thought anything of it -- it's perfectly acceptable for a girl to be "shy,"so demure, so obedient. It makes me recall Mitsuye Yamada's "Invisibility Is an Unnatural Disaster." It has helped me become aware of the conditions in which I am visible and the conditions in which I am invisible. Or alternatively, legible or illegible. I realized so much of it is out of my control. I didn't get to determine who I am, say what I want to say, when, and how. As Yamada wrote in that seminal essay, "To finally recognize our own invisibility is to finally be on the path toward visibility." My voice is weak from lack of practice, but I try to raise my voice a little more each day, even if (or especially when) it makes people say "this is so uncharacteristic of you."


Fatima Waziri's picture

Well stated!

Women in Africa have long being be told to be seen and not heard. To be care givers, home makers and nothing more. Luckily for me, i grew up in a home where they was no stereotyped roles for males and females. As much as the girls cooked and cleaned, the boys also cooked and cleans. As much as the boys wanted to go play outside, read a paper in front of the television and play video games, the girls did same. I am fortunate to have grown up outspoken and very opinionated. I cannot not say same about most of my friends and contemporaries. Invisibility makes one forgettable and is truly an unnatural disaster.


nwan's picture

Your story affirms for me

Your story affirms for me that there is another way for families to be structured (many ways, in fact), and it is being lived out every day in different parts the world. There is nothing natural or inevitable about patriarchy.

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