chapter  7
26 Pages

Words and Us

Throughout this project, I have been struck by the number of narrators who said that they knew no words, had no words, used no words, gave no words to their loving of women, to their lovers, to their friends and family, to themselves. The words of Adrienne Rich beg to be repeated:

Whatever is unnamed, undepicted in images, whatever is omitted from biography, censored in collections of letters, whatever is misnamed as something else, made difficult-to-come-by, whatever is buried in the memory by the collapse of meaning under an inadequate or lying language-this will become, not merely unspoken, but unspeakable. (Rich 1979, p. 199)

Adrienne Rich, a writing teacher, and Marilyn Frye, a philosopher, are decrying lesbian silences, lesbian, and in fact women’s, speechlessness. Both women have struggled to identify this phenomenon of

speechlessness and to put it into words. So have many of the narrators, but many of them seem to have been able to cope with the lack of words for decades.