To assist you in identifying and resisting dominant and unequal power relationships in your life, we’ve compiled a list of common phrases people in historically dominant roles have been conditioned to and may use to try to silence oppressed others, particularly when they perceive their dominance to be challenged.
The quotations below were used by men against women and are thus patriarchal; however, one could expect to find similar strategic dismissals and silencing of the accounts and concerns of people of color, working class and poor people, queer and LGBTQI people, young people, fat people, disabled people, and other marginalized folks in the discourses of those who discriminate against them. The simultaneous and intersecting nature of oppression is also considered here.
These strategies, and others we may have missed, can be found in any order, but from our experiences attempts to silence us commonly go something like this:
Question your knowledge/judgment
Delegitimize your response
Enforce dominant point of view
Shut down debate or conversation
As a follow-up to the Revolutionary Lovers Guide and our Letter to Male Activists, Sisters of Resistance is posting the open letter of Seattle-based community organiser Robin Suhyung Park detailing her experience with intimate partner violence and the lack of response from the Seattle activist community. We share it here as yet another reminder that the revolution begins at home, with ourselves, and how we treat each other.
“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” -Audre Lorde
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Robin Suhyung Park. I am a 21 year old student, poet and organizer based in Seattle, Washington. I have been a member of Sahngnoksoo, a Korean American organization, since 2009. In the honor of vday, the Global Movement to End Violence Against Women and Girls, I write to you for 3 reasons:
1. To break my silence; to make my experience known and real.
2. To examine the heteropatriarchal values which undermine the strength of our communities.
3. To formally ask what you have done in your community to hold perpetrators of violence accountable, and what you have done in your community to prevent intimate partner violence.