Seen and not heard: the problem with visibility
it was a victorian saying that children should be seen and not heard, but in our infantalizing culture of oppression, this very well could be a phrase about women, or about oppressed people(s) in the culture. Tokenism -or the survey style thinking of including “one of each” (if we’re lucky) often provides a brown face or a woman sprinkled into the all white all male field of view. These faces, bodies, real humans are often used to shield the organization from criticism or to bolster the conscience of the “racially sensitive” person-in-power. These practices serve the master still, and not the apparently “represented” member. The case for visibility and representation is a plea for someone “who looks like me” to be in positions of power, in the public eye. The idea of representation is that this person who shares my difference will speak for me, will protect my interests. It presupposes that we each “care for our own” and reinforces the very categories used to oppress.
Heard and not seen: the problem with patriarchy
the unseen booming masculine voice in the commercials, the faceless (and bodiless) God and Father of the old and new testament who’s word brings existence into being, and the voice within all of us that maintains and polices perceived norms are all one and the same: the voice of patriarchy, the colonizer, the master. This omnipresent narrator assumes authority through authorship, the power is his right because the language is his tool.
A call for audibility: writing, reading, speaking and listening
This is a call for a moratorium on “the canon.” Whose words are we repeating? What thinkers, authors, philosophers, etc. form the foundation of your thinking? Whose narrative of history have you heard so many times you have memorized it? Who is the supposed receiver of this story, this movie, this song? Who “wrote the book” on this subject, i.e. whose voices of authority and expertise are you expected to accept, unchallenged. Because the voices of patriarchy have saturated our culture, we have no need to seek out or study these perspectives, they live within us.
Voices of difference are imperative to the health of the entire culture. Everyone has something to learn from these voices, authors, and speakers. Just as everyone (raised within society) has already in them the voice of patriarchy, everyone has a need to recuperate society’s excluded voices whether or not their experience or image matches or represents your own.