speaking my voice
I am so glad that this online community of voices exists. I consider a women's voice (her ability to express herself, either verbally, in writing or any other way) one of her greatest gifts. It's essential to empowering ourselves, because this is how we affirm our sense of truth, our inner voice. It's by speaking out against injustice in our life and the life of others that we affirm the belief that it could be different. When someone or something undermines our voice, it undermines our confidence, our potential, our self-love, it undermines our life. Essentially, it profoundly limits the choices we make for ourselves, because how we see ourselves- we define what is possible.
In The dance of the dissident daughter Sue Monk Kidd quotes Sarah Gilbert and Susan Gubar ,”women will starve in silence until new stories are created which confer on them the power of naming themselves”. This idea of naming ourselves really took hold of me when I read the quote a few years ago. My personal interpretation is that the stories we tell reflect our paradigm. They symbolize the possibilities we hold in our mind and if in our stories, women have the power to name themselves, it would mean that the possibility of that reality would be tangible.
I hope I am not interpreting the meaning of the quote incorrectly, but how I understand it, is that naming ourselves is defining ourselves. Our entire society and paradigm is so based on and centered around men and masculine values that I see it as essential in the healing of women and our planet for women to create definitions of ourselves that are based on our inner voice, our inner sense of truth. Not against men, or against anything- but for ourselves, for our sister, our mothers, our daughters, the planet and also men.
One of the subtlest forms of violence against women is objectification. We have internalized this violence and we objectify ourselves. Objectifying ourselves is seeing ourselves, defining ourselves, through the eyes of someone else. It means we see our value and power through the eyes of a paradigm that essentially degrades women. A great article on this was published by Ms. Magazine: http://www.msmagazine.com/spring2008/outOfBodyImage.asp.
I have become very conscious of objectifying myself, yet I still battle with it frequently. It is deeply ingrained. When we name ourselves, objectification holds no power, because we know who we are, we do not buy into the reality that the objectification holds as true.
Naming ourselves means to use our voice and therefore have the ability to define ourselves, our values and our world. It means to speak of the world I want to see, a world that includes a feminine paradigm, which honors the process, honors diversity, honors the connection between all things, honors the earth.
My boyfriend asked me the other day what it is that he can do to help heal the patriarchy in our paradigm and the first thing that came to mind was to listen. To listen to women, to ask for their stories. Because only by being so removed from the reality of women's lives, can the current paradigm of abuse and self-objectification continue. The social unspoken taboo’s of speaking about abuse is powerfully undermining our voices as women. Because much of the reality of what we experience as women, we endure in silence. Silence perpetuates the shame and self doubt that keeps us quiet. For every woman that speaks about her experience, another feels she can too and that her experience is valid, that it’s real. This will bring the actual experiences of women into social awareness and make abuse in all its subtle and overt ways visible. I thank all the women and men, feminists and activists that have created the social awareness we have today. Maybe if we knew the stories of those around us, if we understood their pain, we would be aware of the pain of people in Iraq and other parts of the world. By naming ourselves we change the norm. This is my voice. Speaking it is still a little scary.