“crisis” refers a moment when the body identifies intense danger
April 19, 2016 6:15 PM   Subscribe

“To Become Louder, Even Still”: Responses to Sexual Violence in Literary Spaces Apogee Journal has collected fourteen responses from writers to sexual violence perpetrated in the literary community.
“I think of crisis now because these moments force us to confront the urgent matter of what it means to work within literary spaces that perpetuate violence and silence their survivors. In a sense, what we are experiencing is a series of crises that bring the immediacy of this violence to light. Yet somehow the urgency dissipates just as quickly. Though we often look to the act of writing as documentation and witness, the writing of violence somehow becomes the burden of those who have endured it and forgotten by those with the privilege to ignore.

We at Apogee Journal put out a call for contributors to respond to this very subject because we are against forgetting. In the following responses, contributors turned to poetry, prose, and essay to address a recurring crisis. At times they force us to sit with the grief of surviving such violence. Other times they demand that we take back the spaces that have become unsafe. Contributor Mahogany L. Browne writes that for us to stop this violence, we all must “become louder, even still.” We ask that you consider these responses as echoes—as a response to a history of responses to violence. May they resound with such volume that every response following becomes an even brighter and more unrelenting noise.”
posted by Fizz (1 comment total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of powerful stuff there, thanks for posting it. I especially liked THE WRITER CHOOSES TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS (taking women writers seriously), which starts with a quote from Elena Ferrante:
“Yes, I hold that male colonization of our imaginations—a calamity while ever we were unable to give shape to our difference—is, today, a strength. We know everything about the male symbol system; they, for the most part, know nothing about ours, above all about how it has been restructured by the blows the world has dealt us. What’s more, they are not even curious, indeed they recognize us only from within their system.”
And continues:
in light of ferrante’s optimism i wonder how we can use this calamity, this colonization of our imaginations, even the rape of our minds, as a strength, as a private language in which women can understand each other, as particular to women across race and class divides. who among us has not felt the predatory pernicious eye of the male gaze on our bodies because we present as feminine in the world? who among us hasn’t felt the humiliation of it? and is this a language of womanhood? is it a language the courts and universities and even journalists have a hard time understanding?

[. . .]

when asked whether she was in a sense erasing herself by choosing to keep her identity a secret, elena ferrante replies:

“No, if you write and publish you are hardly erasing yourself…Today I feel, thanks to this decision, that I have gained a space of my own, a space that is free, where I feel active and present. To relinquish it would be very painful.”

painful and, given the scope of the internet today, actually life-threatening. it’s no wonder we call women brave for speaking and writing in public. ...

believing women is a choice, a radical feminist practice when so much of the media we consume tries to convince us not to. but i suspect, as optimistically as ferrante, that our ‘symbol-system’ can be a space in which women recognize each other, like a coded language among sisters, and trust each other as writers and thinkers, and honor that.

[. . .]

facebook for me has become a semi-private space where i can test ideas in a larger community of trusted followers, where i can feel safe in my name and still be on the internet. but beyond the scope of these guarded friend requests i am not brave enough to be a woman writer. and no woman should have to endure the kind of humiliation and assault we are taught to swallow for the sake of our careers.

so in light of these overdue conversations about sexual violence in literary and academic spaces, i believe it also means protecting anonymity and safety, trusting the language of trauma, and naming aggressors, to begin taking charge of our institutions.
posted by languagehat at 9:08 AM on April 20, 2016

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