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Proposal for Gendered Silences Paper

meerajay's picture

I had a lot of critiques of Adrienne Rich right after I read “On Lies, Secrets and Silence”. I felt that for many women, especially those who hold more marginalized identities than just that of woman, silences are a form of survival. They may not always constitute autonomy but they keep you alive. Part of my view comes from my upbringing, which places women in the context of a more collectivist culture, rather than individualistic, which can still be a powerful form of feminism in its own right. I was thinking about this post where I discuss my mother’s feminism. I want to develop my gendered silences paper as a critique of Rich using a close reading of the text The Women Warrior and Eva’s Man. In The Woman Warrior, I am interested in the main character’s need to assimilate into what her idea of the ideal American girl child is, and how this causes her to break down over the other child’s determined (and terrified) silence. In Eva’s Man I want to examine Eva’s use of silence as self-protection when faced with situations of trauma.

 I am thinking of looking at these texts alongside sections of the book Borderlands by Gloria Anzaldúa. She discusses this idea of a “sixth sense” that comes about for women who are marginalized; they can access the vibrations of a room and act accordingly… How does silence play into this? This idea is obviously still in its bare bones. Still trying to develop an argument, and I’m hoping that this argument is valid…Going to keep this in the back of my mind all day and add to this post but this is what I have so far. 


Anne Dalke's picture

so many rich layers here—I think too many for a workable 5-pp. project? Trying to engage Rich+Kingston+Jones+ Anzaldúa won’t really give you a chance to dig into any text in depth. How about putting just Woman Warrior into dialogue with Rich’s essay, letting each text push back against the other, with a focus particularly on the notion of a more collectivist orientation than the one Rich develops in her call to cease ‘lying’ and speak the truth? (Though I think her notion that political change comes @ a cost—and that cost may well include personal relationships—is another form of thinking collectively/beyond the individual that Kingston might help you reconsider).