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Latest update: October 29, 1998
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Duncan Kennedy, a Professor at Harvard Law, describes his own reactions to the effects of silencing: "My own position in the system of class, sex, and race (as an upper-middle-class white male) and my rank in the professional hierarchy (as a Harvard professor) give me an interest in the perception that heirarchy is both omnipresent and enormously imortnat, even while I am busy condemning it. And there is a problem of imagination that goes beyond that of interest. it is hard for me to know whether I even understand the attitudes toward hierarchy of woen and blacks, for example, or of children of working-class parents, or of solo practitioners eking out a living from reidential real-estate closings. Members of those groups sometimes suggest that the particularity of their experience of oppression simply cannot be grasped by outsiders, but sometimes that the failure to grasp it is a personal responsibility rather than inevitable. Often it seems to me that all people have at least analogous experiences of the oppressive reality fo hierarcy, even those who seem most favored by the system---that the collar feels the same when you get to the end of the rope, whether the rope is ten feet long or fifty. On the other hadn, it seems clear that heirarchy creates distances that are never bridged." (At pp. 73-74 in "Legal Education as Training for Hierarchy," in Kairys, David, ed., The Politics of Law, Basic books, 1998.)
Against the elegance of Kennedy's academic writing compare the immediacy of llama's poetry:
"no, you're not alone. there are lots of us out here, more than you'd think. some of us read this group; some don't bother.
"some have suffered more than you have, some less. some have been dealing with the consequences for decades, and others are just now tentatively trying on the word "abuse," suspiciously, the way you test a garment you're not sure fits.
"will it help, knowing i'm not alone?
"who can say? maybe. it might make those coldsweat nights when sleep is a foreign language you can't quite master a little softer. it might also make you pace restlessly in your head, wondering why someone who seems to have had it so much worse is doing so much better.
"you might find yourself comparing stories, deciding who's been "really" abused, and then find, with shock, that you don't meet your own criteria. you might find love and support and hope for the future, or you might find gloomy confirmation of what you always suspected: that you are in this alone.
"no matter how much love, support, networking, advice, concern you receive, this path will always be yours to walk alone. it isn't fair. you didn't ask for this, didn't do anything to deserve it. it hurts, god, it hurts with an ache down in your soul that nothing can quite assuage.
"but sometimes it can help to meet someone on a similar path and sit down in the shade under a tree and drink tea and talk."
Visit Llama's Site!
Whether we speak in elegant academic language or in the poignancy of shared stories, we have all felt the oppression of injustice, of privileged subjectivity, of the closed mind that makes decisions in a system in which we are caught, but which fails to listen in good faith to our claims of validity. As llama reminds us, and as Kennedy stresses, some of us have been hurt more than others, and we cannot know what that means. Kennedy has chosen to write about the pain, in language that is his. So has llama. Humans find solace in voice. For voice is ours, perhaps ours alone as a species. (Pinker, Steven, The Language Instince, Harper-Perennial, 1994.)
Here, we provide a forum for voice. Share your stories, listen in good faith, help the system become a learning system. Find links below to other sites and other stories.
Healing Woman Site
Parents and Friends of ISA
The Feminist Majority's Report on Afghanistan
The Feminist Majority Main Site
OK, kids, now enough is enough. No sooner do I manage to link you to the WWWomen's Web Ring, right on the Assignment sheet for the Sociology of Women, and go back for a quick visit to llama's wonderful site, than I find that WebRings are the ultimate uncool. Well, if I ever wanted to illustrate that we can't speak of half the world's population as one "class" or group, I guess this does it. This was only the third ring I had seen. Can I please have some time to go surf so I can catch up with what's cool, and what's not?
In any event, Dear Habermas is pleased to offer a significant forum to both the cool and the uncool. We can't guarantee we'll always know which is which, but at least we can promise some academic integrity in evaluating sources and providing you with a forum.
Visit llama's anti ring site.
our ring dilemma (image borrowed from llama)