I’ve been pretty silent on social media lately, and on this blog. I used to speak up about current events, social practices, academic theory, morality, etc. But for the last two years, I haven’t spoken up. I’m not sure why. There’s a lot of discomfort within me because of this.
After reading Rhetoric Retold: Regendering the Tradition from Antiquity through the Renaissance (1997) by Cheryl Glenn, I have some ideas about what my silence might mean. Her book is about recognizing female writers and their rhetorics in an attempt to prove that women were not necessarily silent in history, but that they were writing, speaking, and contributing to public discourses.
Her final chapter muses about the different ways we can characterize silence.
- Silence might be a deliberate and positive choice.
- Silence may not be golden and we have an obligation to speak up.
- Silence might be resistance.
- Silence can be a position, to demonstrate power by forcing others to worry, wait, wonder or fill the gap and start a conversation.
- Silence can be a presence as well as an absence.
- Silence can be employed on our own time, agenda, and context.
I’m still not sure exactly why I’ve been silent, when so much of what is happening has upset, confused, and angered me. Maybe I’m not ready to speak. Maybe I’m resisting. Maybe I feel silenced by others. Maybe I’m not yet sure what to say or if my words will do any good.
I have found that I feel better about some things when I speak up. I’ve spoken up in individual situations recently, when people have told me what to think about rape or politics or feminism. I speak my truth. I calmly tell them what I know to be true. I don’t let them school me. And I feel better when I do this.
Are you silent or speaking up these days? Why?