Where do I begin with silence? Does it equal only death, or also nonexistence? When I have been called a dyke in the middle of a movie theatre by a group of boys, did my voice rise at the same time my heart broke? When my lover dropped my hand in the middle of Manhattan, fearing one of her students would see her holding the hand of a woman, did I keep walking with her or did our paths diverge in that moment? When my friend was raised being called a dyke by the people who were meant to love her most, did she re-define family and divide herself?
I do not have enough fingers to count the people, boys and girls, men and women; I know who have been lost due to silence. My father found 4 of my diaries when I was 13 and read them in my face while he drank his evening cocktails. My mother lived in her bedroom and out of her medicine cabinet to numb the pain of an emotionally abusive marriage. My father’s eyes glazed at dusk, another sip for another day, ending in silence. I have sat in stillness when my friend’s mother showed up at my doorstep, her face beaten in by a “lover.” I know too many stories from women I love about being raped. I have watched countless people turn away from themselves because who they grew into was a contradiction to who they were taught they were meant to be.
I feel empowered every time I read a blog on Pulse Wire from a woman questioning the world around her. Through Pulse Wire, I have learned about harsh punishments for homosexuals in Uganda, countless women worldwide speaking out even when faced with death threats and while their colleagues are being murdered…I ask you, what is more empowering than knowing people are listening to you? We feel validated when we know we are heard. We wake up stronger knowing our voices in and of themselves are catalysts for change.
Web 2.0 offers the source of empowerment we all need – validation through being heard and listened to, a platform for collective communication to remind us how we are connected. I have sisters, everywhere and they need to be heard and I need to remember that the path of service begins with a compassionate, empathetic ear. We cannot pose solutions without communication and collaboration and Web 2.0 serves both tasks and provides a forum that will be a conduit for worldwide change. This is what excites me, beyond words, about Web 2.0.
The silencing of women has a long history. Every time we connect, we are unraveling that silence. Every plea for peace is a vibration on my heartstrings that compels me to continue speaking in my community, to teach women here and everywhere the value of their voices, to listen with wild patience as the crescendo of women’s voices transforms from a hum into a gently fierce roar.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Empowerment and Web 2.0.