Women Write Resistance to Violence
It is easier to program a child than a VCR. Only three steps. Easy, time-tested, ancient, a sure thing.
First, hurt the child. Hurt her a little, hurt her a lot, threaten to do more, things she can’t imagine. Since she couldn’t have imagined what you’ve already done, her own fear will now control her. She will blindfold and gag herself.
Those are the opening lines of a poem by Elliott Battzedek entitled, “His Favorite Gun is Me.” The poem is part of a new anthology called, Women Write Resistance.
Poetry resisting violence. Gendered violence: Battering, rape, incest, trans-violence.
Poetry as resistance may sound strange.
Yet poetry emerges from the unconscious, beyond conventional notions provided by the powerful, creating competing narratives.
That’s crucial since gender violence holds a “double-bind: keep silent or speak and be ashamed,” says scholar Cheryl Glenn.
When he held her by her ankles
upside down on the roof
like she was
a bird he was plucking
I wish he doesn’t drop me
I wish this hadn’t
the molesting, the threats, then
– to come –
when the girl came forward and said
he made me
and she, my mother said, me too,
they told her she was
a naughty girl who just wanted attention
— Lines from Shevaun Branigan’s, “Why My Mother is Afraid of Heights”
This poetry uses sass language: naming experience in personal terms, using language that is impolite, blunt, passionate or sarcastic. Sass uses natural speech and slang to resist the illusion of objectivity and refuses to take on a disembodied voice.
and long before you
forbade a ribbon for my hair
yelled when my contact slipped out in the pool
or kicked our toddler’s stuffed snow leopard across the room,
it was moonlight,
and you were handsome,
and we were in love,
and I was 19
and had sworn, after the trailer park of childhood,
never to let a man hit me.
I felt so proud of that rule I’d made up myself.
— Lines from, “Before You” by Joy Castro
Making it personal moves us beyond customary news coverage that is abstract, sometimes titillating, and that ignores the consequences of gender violence.
By creating and communicating new ways of seeing, this poetry provides the possibility of both personal and social transformation, as Audre Lorde would put it.
Part of that transformation is reflected in the anthology’s title. Lauren Madeline Wiseman, the editor, points out that we once had only the concept of victim. Now we see one-time victims transformed into survivors. But another dimension must be added: resister.
Here are a few of the poets busy writing resistance: Ellen Bass, Alicia Ostriker, Judy Grahn, Wendy Barker, Lisa Lewis, Maureen Seaton, Judith Vollmer, Lyn Fifhin, Alison Luterman, Frannie Lindsey, Linda McCarriston, Leslie Adrienne Miller, Jehanne Dubrow, Rebecca Foust, Allison Hedge Coke, and Hilda Raz, along with many others.
The resistance emerges in broken silences, disrupted narratives, being sassy, witnessing, harnessing anger and raising consciousness to connect the dots between the personal, the political and the societal: the place where resistance lives.
Poetry that urges us all to empowered resistance.
Posted on July 20, 2013, in feminism, gender, psychology, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged feminism, Lauren Madeline Wiseman, psychology, sexism, violence against women, women, Women Write Resistance. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.