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On February 8, I posted a blog titled “Metoo Storytelling To Be Featured At “Beyond Gender Tyranny Forum For Men and Women,” In that piece I used this biblical quote –
“For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.” (Mark 4:11, 21-22)I wanted, with these words, to introduce the profound uplifting, healing power of storytelling, as I know it, provided there are receptive story listeners on the receiving end. And I wanted to emphasize that, not only can storytelling help us overcome polarization, as with the various issues New Horizons has been addressing, over the past dozen or so years at our Coffee House Conversations program, but that we can also bring that kind of process and rewarding outcome into the area, now, of gender dissonance.
We, as women, are a long time coming to this time of opening doors on the part of men being willing to hear women’s “true” voices.
Still the telling, and the listening, are an arduous uphill climb; a mighty steep one, at that.
No doubt it will be a long time coming, yet, before the commitment of men to genuinely hear what we are saying, fully, becomes widespread – and – indisputably productive and change-effecting, at the deepest levels.
Few men have this level of commitment that will alter their lives, as well as our own. I write this with much experience to back me up, having known well what it takes of a man to go this distance. I've truly known the "good," the bad and the ugly! I'll take the good, of course!
Over the years, experience with our male counterparts, has led us to silence ourselves, knowing that our words and their import would likely be dismissed or minimized. So prevalent has been this state of affairs as our regular fare that rather than develop fully in our capacity to communicate the deepest parts of ourselves, instead we modified ourselves to fit the various cultures in which we lived, worked and played.
This silencing, however, was not only in the hands of the men but also in the general culture of our homes, our schools, our churches, synagogues and mosques and our places of work. “Culture” is as much a part of the collusion that keeps us silent as is any one individual, group or type. Even the most solid of us can succumb to these pressures of culture.
A painful reminder of the power culture has to impact our emotions and our actions, crossed my desk this morning, as I read a statement by Aly Raisman about the conditions at the Karolyi Ranch, reported in the Washington Post. Headlines quoted Ms. Raisman saying --
There is no doubt that the conditions of a culture can make even adults vulnerable. While the forces may be typically so powerful that it is known, full well, that retaliation and punishment will be the price for the whistle blower. The lessons of the Holocaust remind us of this again and again. As a Jewish woman, I know I never forget!
Culture, as we know, if we step back far enough to observe it, can be wearing while breaking with culture can sometimes be deadly, in large and small ways. The one who chooses to step out and suggest that the almighty emperor has no clothes is far from rewarded.
The radio show I did last Saturday with my honorary daughter and New Horizons Board Member, Terry, brought the issue of silence and breaking silence home to me in a way that left me trembling – and – then, later, a new release from hiding some of the most important parts of me!
Terry and I did a wonderful show, as far as I’m concerned. In the area of storytelling and story listening I think we were almost exemplary, with just the right amount, most of the time, of giving and taking.
Things were so fine that we both allowed ourselves to share, spontaneously, more and more of our deep, innermost thoughts, experiences, beliefs and perspectives. We were going along so well that, at least on my end and I think, also on hers, we both almost forgot we were broadcasting a show that would be recorded and archived for all time, if we allowed it to be other than erased; an option that did exist and that we both thought, briefly, maybe we should elect to do. (In the end, we did not. So you will be able to hear it, using this link.)
What was so troubling that a radio show that seemed quite fine should result in upset, after the fact?
The answer is a complex, long and involved one.
The short version is that Terry and I, apparently, were so much at ease in our back and forth dialogue (But then, of course, we are two women!) we both, inadvertently, ended up sharing more than felt safe, at the time.
After all coming out of the hiding one has been doing for a lifetime of guarding one’s words does not come together with a person feeling, instantaneously, safe enough yet to give up one’s guard.
This is a HUGE issue! "The Cost of The Quiet" and the risk of speaking out!
On a personal level, I have been publicly discussing the "Cost of the Quiet" for a good number of years now. At last count I found four related radio shows on Anastasia The Storyteller and numerous blog articles.
The radio shows on Anastasia The Storyteller Radio begin on March 29, 2014 and run through July 5, 2014. You can find them still listed on that web site, available now on podcast. They are also listed below --
I also found three blog posts, focusing on the theme of what it can mean for a woman, when she hides some of the most important aspects of herself and her daily life.
There By The Grace of G-d Go I: Dangers of the unknown/undisclosed Self (March 24, 2014)
The Cost of the Quiet (July 9, 2014)
And most recently The Cost Of The Quiet, 2017 (October 10.29.2017)
There is so much that is wonderful that can happen when we invite storytelling and story listening into our lives. And there is such a cost if we do not!
Then there is the downside, the risk that might not pan out. What to do? What to do?
Listen in to my next Anastasia The Storyteller Radio Show when I will take up this topic further; the “cost of the quiet” and the consequences of giving full voice to who and what one might be. That show, titled "Listen And Learn, Tell AndTremble: Two Sides Of A Coin," will be broadcast this coming Saturday, March 17 at 11:30 a.m.
I hope you can join me. I will be taking callers at: 646.564.9608.