Breaking the Silence, or Who Says Shut Up?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In place of the question “Can we talk?” this article explores what keeps us from speaking, and also from listening, to voices that through time and across cultures have broken the silences in our midst. By highlighting the relational capacities that are with us practically from birth (including our ability to register the obvious and give voice to our experience), I draw on girls’ voices across a range of settings to articulate the tension we face when, paradoxically, a sacrifice of voice becomes the price of having relationships. Why have #MeToo and Time’s Up taken us by surprise when in fact most of us knew what was going on? Why did the Parkland School activists strike us as so articulate when in truth they were naming the obvious? As a culture, we have granted sexual license to powerful men and valued guns more than children. Women’s silence and men’s violence are the mainstays of this patriarchal order. By breaking silence, women, along with the men who have joined them, are leaving the confines of patriarchy. By interrogating the voice that says shut up, they are contesting those invested in perpetuating a culture that values honor over love and life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-746
Number of pages12
JournalContemporary Psychoanalysis
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 4 2018


  • #MeToo
  • girls
  • initiation
  • patriarchy
  • voice
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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