Ovid told the story of PHILOMELA, an Athenian princess whose sister Procne was married to the king, Tereus. The sisters missed each other’s company so Philomela was invited to live with her sister and husband. However, the king felt great lust for Philomela and lured her into the woods and raped her. She threatened to tell of the assault and so he carried out an act of silencing and mutilation by cutting out her tongue and raping her again before leaving her unable to speak in the woods. Philomela’s response was to weave the story of the violent assault into a tapestry and send it to her sister, revealing the violation through her woven words. Procne fell silent with inner rage. The sisters had outed him but had to flee in fear of Tereus’s rage. They were transformed into song birds, the nightingale and the swallow. The silencing of Philomela metaphors the enforced silencing of women that has occurred through the ages. Women today still experience this patriarchal show of power. Here is a tale of sisters who stood strong and used their agency to reveal their perpetrator.
In the past women have been socialised to take a passive role, to be nice and to remain silent. Strong women were seen as outspoken, angry and unlovable.Women’s silence was a crucial part of the success of patriarchy and though diminished it still exists. Paradoxically in Simone de Beauvoir’s book The Second Sex (1949), she argued that women were often silent and complicit in reinforcing their own unfreedom by voluntarily giving up their voice. The backlash from women aimed at the #MeToo movement and other feminist groups shows how the Feminine can still act as an agent to reinforce unfreedom even today. May we each find and question our silent voices and may we each find the power to weave and tell our own stories.”……..I AM MY VOICE
I raise up my voice—not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. … We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back…….Malala Yousafzai
“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” Madeleine Albright
“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.” I don’t have the patriarchal power like those men have; however, I do have the power to tell my own story. “ Oprah Winfrey
“I’m like that old lady that’s probably about my age in the Women’s March holding up a sign saying, ‘Why after fifty years am I still holding this fucking sign?” Margaret Atwood