WGST 194.03 - W.O.C. Feminism // Third Wave Feminism : Theory, Practice + Activism

Friday, September 23, 2005

Speaking in Tongues: A Letter To 3rd World Women Writers

Dear class,
I was touched by Gloria Anzaldua's letter and one of the best parts of it was its intimacy. She deliberates about form in the beginning and concludes that letters achieve the "immediacy" and "intimacy" she is looking for. In the same way, I don't think I should try to reproduce her messages withuot attempting the same tone though I will not do it nearly as well.

To begin with, her letter is not addressed to me but to women of color. By making women of color her audience, she prioritizes them and makes secondary the white men and women who might be reading. However, I was clear that I should learn from her and part of what I learned about was being a secondary audience.

To women of color, she expresses sympathy, encouragement and words of wisdom. Writing she says, is dangerous but compared to white women "we don't have as much to lose - we never had any privileges." None-the-less, obstacles lie in the way to be gone "through" because they can't be circumvented.

Women of color are invisible in many circles. In white feminist circles it is becoming less so but even as white women include women of color, women of color are tokenized and encouraged to conform. Language is one area conformity takes place: "White feminists . . . are notorious for "adopting" women of color as their "cause" while still expecting us to adapt their expectations and their language."

But women of color such as Anzaldua must write. She claims that writing is a way to discover one's self and reclaim it. In particular, it is to reclaim the Other inside us. Because mainstream society has made women of color the Other, writing must take on the task of reclaiming that which society has alienatied from themselves.


  • I wanted to add some notes about Gloria Anzaldua, the author of my piece. She grew up in texas in a family of Mexican Immigrants and was the first and only child to go to college. She started out working as a teacher of immigrants after she graduated. She became well known and respected as a writer, poet, cultural theorist and lesbian, chicana feminist. She wrote a book called The New Mestiza which combines english and spanish poetry and other prose and was among Literary Journal's chosen best books of 1987. She died last May at the young age of 61 from diabetes complications.

    By Blogger mimi, at 8:20 AM  

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