So Many Silences – part two


“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”  Audre Lorde

There is power in truly wanting to see through your own bullshit.

Since I opened the door to wanting to know about silence, privilege and oppression, so much has been shifting and churning. I am already wiser for this exploration. Your comments have touched raw nerves. My own words are doing the same.

Over the past six days, I kept writing and sitting. Nothing clear would come out. I spoke with my writing partner, Jeanne, and clarity seemed to show up for a bit. But the next morning when it came time to write, fog and confusion, again. Something here doesn’t want to be seen. I don’t want to see it; but, I do. I want to be free.

Silence, privilege and oppression.

Three pretty powerful topics, and I’ve lumped them all together. They are intertwined.

Some of you have asked why I’m exploring this topic. Something is pushing me to see what I don’t want to see. I want to know what keeps me silent. I want to know where I am blind. I want to know where I am ignorant. I want to see what I haven’t been willing to see. I want to be free. And, it is foggy. It feels like something painful is coming to light.

I know that what stays hidden, what stays in the dark, hurts us all.

A few nights ago,

after opening this can of who knows what, anger and grief finally came pouring out. I kept yelling, over and over, out loud, very out loud, from someplace deep inside, “I don’t understand men’s silence.” “I don’t understand.” “How can you stay silent about what happens to women, when there are women in your life you love? Your mother, your sister, me?”

I was saying it to him, my partner…and at the same time, I was saying it to all the world’s men.

After so many years wondering what it would be like to simply say what had been kept inside for so long, I experienced it. It wasn’t clumsy at all. It was clear. It was alive. It was powerful. It came from someplace deep within my body.

The anger was a deep and boiling. It’s been cooking for some time. It burned its way through. It burned itself out of me. After it subsided, grief began to spill out. A deep, deep grief about the way things are in the world. So much grief.

But as everything came tumbling out of my body, the rage, the grief and the tears, I also felt something inside me become stronger. It was as if I found a part of myself that I had lost a long time ago. It’s the part that I silenced.

It is still a bit hazy,

but I’m going to try to write it in hopes it will become more clear.

I don’t understand my partner’s silence. He is a good man. I love him. I feel so much anger and so much love. It was a sign that something was up in me, something coming up to be seen through, something that was ready to be set free.

There is an old, worn out relationship between me and men. In opening the door to seeing my complacency and silence, I see even more clearly how these things are fueled by my conditioned loyalty with men, especially the men in my life that hold power. The men in my life who hold power are white men. Educated men. Middle-class men. Men I love.

If you asked them, they might not feel powerful. In fact, I bet they don’t feel powerful. So many men have said they feel powerless in this culture. Yet, in relationship to me, they seem powerful. They seem to hold the power. What’s that about?

As a girl, I learned I held no power. Small body. Big men. No way I could hold my own.

As a girl, I learned my role was to take care of men, and to try to help them feel good about themselves.

As a girl, I learned to be silent about the things they did that didn’t feel right to me, that didn’t feel good.

As a girl, I learned to stay silent: silent = safe.

As a girl, this was survival.

As a woman, it is no longer survival, it is conditioning, habitual conditioning that covers old fears. old betrayals and very real oppression.

The conditioning played itself out until, one day, the urge to know the truth, to be free of the conditioning, became stronger than the urge to stay safe. As Lorde wrote, we can incite our own learning, if we follow the urge for truth.

So what is the relationship between silence, privilege and power?

You may already know this. I didn’t know, until these past few days, how they have played out in my life.

Over the last few days, every time I tried to write about this, I would feel sick to my stomach. Something really uncomfortable was coming up. I could only see fog, and writing didn’t clear it like it usually does.

The morning after so much anger rose up and burned out of me, I went for a walk in the woods across the street from our home. I could hear the birds calling, the water rushing down the stream, and the rustle of the early morning breeze. As I walked deeper into the park, I could feel the earth alive. I could feel her holding me, Mother earth. I felt so much love from everything alive around me. In that holding, more grief tumbled out. The tears literally poured from my eyes.

As the grief subsided, I could feel something shift. It was as if a distancing had happened, a distancing between me and men. Then I saw it clearly.

My silence earns me privilege, and it costs me my power.

Let me say that again. My silence earns me privilege, and it costs me my power. I give away my power to have privilege.

I may feel I have power, but as long as that power is based on a privilege that is hollow at its core, the power is hollow, too.

Any privilege is hollow at its core.

Privilege is not the way Spirit works. It is not the way of soul. It is not the way of the Earth. And it is not the way of the Mother of us all.

Privilege is the way of patriarchy.

It’s an exchange. A pact. A very unconscious pact. Unconscious in me, until now.

This pact between privilege, power and silence upholds this system of domination and control.


As the tears poured from my eyes, I felt grief rise up and leave. I felt a letting go of this pact of silence. I felt my own autonomy grow. I felt a solidness in myself take hold.

I want to be free, a woman liberated from her own silence.

This is part two in a series of posts on silence, privilege and oppression. You can read part one, here. I don’t know how many more there will be. Thank you for walking beside me through this exploration. I would love to know your reactions, comments and experiences with these very tender places.

Blessings, Julie

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50 Replies to “So Many Silences – part two”

  1. I made a self portrait last week at a Vagina Monologues “rehearsal” (also known as getting more intimate with both ourselves and one another.) I wrote about anger and wading through the bullshit jungle.

    I find it fascinating that so many women I admire are working on similar paths.

    Much love to you, Julie, and admiration ~ holding hands as we continue.

    1. I, too, find it fascinating that so many of us are working on similar themes. I think, in part, it reflects where we are in the cosmic cycle and the consciousness that is growing and propelling us forward. For me, many of the explorations that arise are where I need to let go or clear out or revise my thoughts.

      Silence definitely costs us our power. It’s cost me mine. I’m learning gradually to speak up for myself, first of all, because I believe we have to start with ourselves, but for others too. Speaking our truth seems such a difficult thing sometimes. It’s something I continue to work on.

      Julie and Julie, I admire you both for the way you delve into these topics.

      1. Nicola, Yes it is difficult, and you are doing it. We are all doing it, and I know we are stronger together. Blessings.

    2. Julie, Yes, we are all being invited to let go of old structures, both inside and out. Love to you, dear one. We’ve been walking together for quite a while, now.

  2. ‘I felt a letting go of this pact of silence. I felt my own autonomy grow. I felt a solidness in myself take hold.’

    That is so beautiful.

    Last week, I experienced something like this when I finally allowed myself to connect with a deep anger – rather than pulling away from it, swallowing it, being ‘reasonable.’

    And I also felt a new kind of groundedness, as if I’d touched a solid core inside myself. It was very surprising for me. It felt good.

    Much love to you Julie and to you, Julie Jordan Scott. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    1. Sophie, Isn’t it amazing what happens when you connect with that deep anger. That solid core is right there, and it is deepening in me. I’d love to know more about your experience, if and when you are willing to share.
      Love to you, Julie

  3. through Love
    what I accept, in myself, is a heart that

    mourns, through intuition, for the unconscious enslavement of women by the egoic collective patriarchy…(loosening its grip, as we speak)
    the knowing

    that everyone Is

    equal, in the Heart
    Yet, this voice of the feminine, that resides in each being…

    arises to be shared in clarity


    heart to heart…

    with words, without words…

    it comes…it transmits

    Dear Julie, thank You for speaking the truth.
    As more men awaken they are able to See, how unconsciousness has played out. Women go *first* in this ‘endeavor’… it is the natural turning of our upside down world….*finally* turning right side up!…
    As we allow the tears to be here, we ‘shall witness’ men coming from their hearts… for the “very first time”… as their tears flow, the floodgates shall burst open… All together bathed in the Ocean of Love

    1. Doreen,
      Thank you for your beautiful comment.
      “As we allow the tears to be here, we ‘shall witness’ men coming from their hearts”…I am beginning to see this. My good friend says we must speak to men of our pain, and I can feel she is right.
      Many blessings, Julie

  4. oh, jewels. so proud of you. i stand in awe. your deeply honest searching, your willingness, has me churning. busily working with daughter on a time-sensitive project today, but know that i’ll be back to say more . . . and i have my own post-in-response in the works. i love you. love your honesty. your willingness. your courage. love how you effect change not by preaching, but by example. xoxo stay tuned . . .

  5. Yes. Thank you. Yes.

    You are inspiring me to take those walks
    You are inspiring me to get in deep with the dirty truth
    You are inspiring me to speak

    It’s enough to incite tears. I’m letting it.

    Thank you.

    1. Dear Rachel,
      Wonderful! We inspire each other, don’t we?
      Let the tears flow. Let the truth rise. Let the words come.
      Blessings, Julie

  6. Thank you for this Julie. I have been contemplating some similar ideas lately. Primarily shame, it’s hold over all of us, and my own silence that keeps me trapped.
    I think that a fair amount of blame can be placed current culture and the fact that we don’t examine it deeply enough and seriously enough to contemplate all of the changes that we need to make so that we might grow towards a world that works for everyone.
    I believe that this is part of what keeps people oppressed and silent.
    Thank you for this series. I’m looking forward to reading more.

    Thank you for this series. I’m looking forward to reading more.

    1. Jenny, Thank you for sharing your insights. One thing I’ve found is that if we’re willing to look at what is right here, willing to really see the truth, life is totally accommodating in showing us what we need to experience. For me, I’ve found it’s not what we need to do to make things change, it’s what we are being invited to let go of, to surrender to.
      Shame is some pretty dark juju, yet we can even sit with shame and move through it. I have a feeling shame is going to be popping its head up here soon in this series. We’ll see. I have no idea what is coming in the next post!
      Love, Julie

  7. “My silence earns me privilege, and it costs me my power.”

    Yay Julie! Speak! Several months ago, I erupted in to a full blown, last-straw, roaring rage against all the ways I’ve agreed to keep quiet and keep “the peace”. It wasn’t pretty. It was guttural screams and broken dishes – it was also, my most visceral sense of relief. I left the house shivering with adrenaline. I sat in the park trying to process why I couldn’t drum up any shame. What came to me was “No pain.” I’ve suffered with excruciating periods since I was fourteen but I knew in that trembling moment, that month would be pain free. There’s a medical explanations for what I’ve been suffering with (endometriosis). There’s been surgeries, drugs and diet changes nothing’s been more effective than saying what I really feel…

    I believe silence also costs us our Lives. Swallowing all that unaddressed pain takes up precious, vital, living space. One of my co-writer’s suggested I practice speaking up *before* I reach a rip roaring rage 😉 It’s a practice. Still grappling with how to lay to rest these conditioned patterns of tongue biting; belly clenching…And I can gauge how well I’m doing by what my body says. These posts, and what you said about loving rage has me excavating again… unburying silenced pain.


    1. Niki,
      Thank you for that.
      I truly believe that what we don’t express, (often our true selves) will manifest itself as physical ailments.
      For me that means depression and fibromyalgia. It is deppression that has stolen the most from me but when I look back on my life I realize the most serious bouts always came when it was time to change and find a new path in life and I felt too stuck to know how to move forward. In truth, it is not giving my pain a voice that causes all of the trouble.
      Good for you for finally letting it out, and here’s to all of us learning how to break silence in the moment, before we explode. 🙂 For me, I need to learn how and when to cry…
      I’ll bet we all have work to do.

      1. Your welcome! I’m so glad I shared! It helps to know I’m not in this alone.

        “I realize the most serious bouts always came when it was time to change and find a new path in life and I felt too stuck to know how to move forward.”

        That really resonates with me…I’m struggling with my my own “stuck” sadness right now… So thank you also! 🙂

      2. Jenny,
        I’ve suffered depression and fibromyalgia too. Many signs of fibromyalgia have minimal effect on living – the hypersensitivity to tags, seams, noise, light for example. But the pain! Oh the pain!
        I’ve read Part One and now Part Two. I know I grew up privileged; my mother made sure I had the opportunities she was denied. My father encouraged my desire to be an engineer. Although there were struggles due to my gender or personality [I naturally skew ‘masculine’] I kept my voice; silence was something others demanded but I denied them.
        Until I really saw the negative impact on my career because I was not silent. I was unable to leave a position because I was the only one who was holding things together – even though the stress was physically painful – even though I would not be silent.
        I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and was out of work for six months. Went back more for the income at that point.
        I became silent.
        I turned inward.
        I became invisible.
        I was depressed.
        And unproductive.
        And laid off, the only one in my group.

        Silence led to much pain and suffering.
        I need to find another job; I don’t want to be silent. I don’t know what is going to happen. I loved my job before I allowed myself to be silenced. I need to release my voice yet be part of the workforce.

        Not sure what my point was or is.

    2. Oh, Niki, fantastic! These words are priceless wisdom, “There’s been surgeries, drugs and diet changes nothing’s been more effective than saying what I really feel…”
      I had a full hysterectomy at 29 due to intense endometriosis (it’s what they use to do in those days). I totally can see that what is emerging will come through, one way or another, through the body as symptoms, through the voice as spoken word, and through other forms of creative expression. If we don’t express it, it will be expressed in another form…
      I think the only way to be with the conditioned patterns is to be with them with awareness. Invite them, incite them. I’m so glad you’re here, sharing your wisdom with us all.
      Much love to you, Julie

      1. Love to you to Julie. “…be with them with awareness. Invite them, incite them.” I’ll be sitting with that for a while… Thanks.

  8. I read your previous post, and oddly, all I felt was a great guilt and shame (white woman, middle-aged, middle class, parents raised boys and girls to aspire equally (though my siblings are all scary successful, and i am a happy failure). This post feels different to me, raises something different, reminds me of things that have happened in my life. I am about to weep but have no time to indulge. My house this evening, late, will be filled with teenage girls. This is a twice monthly ritual, four girls who love each other and need a place to be. Oh, the way the house fills with girl power! No silence when they are together….

    I have to stop. Thank you for this. Really, thank you.

    1. Elizabeth, Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your experience. The two posts are different, yet part of a deep dive into learning. When you find the time to weep, remember it isn’t indulging. It is part of no longer being silent. Sometimes tears are exactly what wants to be expressed. And, a house full of girls sounds like such a beautiful opportunity to simply enjoy the presence of the feminine.
      Thank you for coming here and sharing your wisdom. I hope to see you back.
      Blessings, Julie

    1. Renae, I read this and found it so disturbing. The anger seemed to rise right up as I made my way through the article. It’s all around us and if we are willing to really see it, how could it not incite anger?

      1. It is ALL around us. So much that it’s hard not to stay angry all the time. But for me, it’s hard to find a place for that anger to go because of the fear. I said speechless at first, and then had to look hard into my own pain, and then found some words I didn’t know I had. Part of that was an acknowledgment of how I stay bound in fear because I’m afraid of losing what my silence buys me. And I’m afraid if I acknowledge the depth of my need and my anger and nothing or no one is there to meet it then I won’t have anywhere else to go. There’s a lot there under that silence, but so much that I cannot yet say. But reading what others are saying certainly stokes the fire.

        1. Renae, I’m so glad you looked hard into your pain. I know it isn’t easy. I know. This statement right here: “I’m afraid of losing what my silence buys me. And I’m afraid if I acknowledge the depth of my need and my anger and nothing or no one is there to meet it then I won’t have anywhere else to go” is profound. I understand this. I know it. I know it is a process. When this rage was let out, I realized that what was there for me was me. It was a profound experience.
          I am so glad we are walking this together, beautiful friend.
          With much love,

  9. Yes Julie, Yes. This is raw and real, living the questions … engaging your world, our world, in the questions, allowing it to churn beyond your stomach, to churn in others, and thus, creating a bigger desire of liberation. To no longer hold each other to that triangle of silence, privilege and power, but to blast it wide open. Yes, Julie, Yes! I walk with you…

    1. Lone, yes, a bigger desire of liberation. I’m so glad you are walking with me and all these other beautiful women sharing here… Love, Julie

  10. “Privilege is the way of patriarchy.
    It’s an exchange. A pact. A very unconscious pact. Unconscious in me, until now.
    This pact between privilege, power and silence upholds this system of domination and control.”

    When I read these words, a light bulb moment happened in my little world, I never thought about privilege like that before, how true the words ring, how much do we sacrifice in order to be where we are, be who we are? I’m tired of being silent in order to keep the status quo but in so many ways the alternative is SO scary!

    1. Pippa, Those light bulb moments are so important. Sit with that insight. It may have something really valuable for you. The alternative may feel scary, yet we know, deep inside, how we are living is not the truth of things. Being tired of being silent is important to pay attention to. What would you say if you were to let go of being silent?
      Thank you for sharing here with us,
      Blessings, Julie

  11. Last week a man said to me,
    “I feel like I’m caught between two strong
    women….” and laughed.

    I wanted to tell him that
    all the women with
    whom I work are strong.

    I wanted him to
    know it, but I
    kept silent.
    I knew that if I spoke up, I would
    affirm the weakness he had
    already exposed himself.

    I wanted to call attention to his laughter
    and tell him that it sounded like he
    truly loved loved loved being
    caught between two strong women,

    but I stayed silent and swallowed
    my anger until my stomach hurt.

    Then he shot an insult at my
    work with a little pop gun of
    a comment….work he needs for me to
    do when he needs to look good.

    It was an aside, a glancing blow

    And I stayed silent because I was
    afraid that if I spoke up to this
    second declaration of his own
    weakness, I would be accused of
    exposing him for who he’s already
    revealed himself to be.

    Today he said he wanted to find a
    way to “gently back me out” of something
    he’d asked me to do with another strong woman.

    Hey, wait – last week I was a strong woman
    and this week he has to gentle me?

    He wants our strength until he can’t
    figure out how to work with both of us, and
    so he thinks he has to gentle me out?

    I stay silent because my anger, instead of
    making me feel powerful and direct and clear
    will prompt
    more of his comments about
    strong women.

    Does he wants me to be ashamed
    because I’m strong?

    Does he wants me to feel fragile, like someone he
    has to handle with what he thinks is

    ….Doesn’t he know
    that he’s the one who has
    to be handled
    so carefully……?

    Funny how he doesn’t worry about gentling me
    when he’s insulting me.

    And funny how it is that I stay silent because
    I know that while he sits in the power seat

    I hold the power.

    The power of my strength.
    The power of my rage.
    The power of knowing what’s what.
    The power of my silence.

    This isn’t right.
    It’s dishonest and skewed
    and ineffective and damaging
    and stupid and wrong and
    learned and reflexive and
    self-defeating and weak and
    perversely powerful.

    I want to speak up – to take charge in the
    face of the incompetence.

    I want to kick his ass.
    I want to wail it out.

    Maybe I’ll do all of the above. And if I do,
    I pray to God I won’t be ashamed that I did
    or worry that by my speaking up
    to defend myself and own my life – my very life–

    I have emasculated this man.

    1. That was amazingly powerful and moving to read. Probably every woman in the world can relate in some way. Isn’t it so true that we take such great care not to offend the ego of man… we don’t want him to feel humiliated and useless so we take up the banner in his place… maybe as we learn how to use our inner truth/power with wisdom, not reacting as the male-energy would but with a feminine wisdom-consciousness, we will become able to emerge intact while not diminishing the male in the process.

      He has been ensnared by long historical lies just as we have. Hopefully we can disentangle ourselves from this mess carefully and with patience so as to minimize the damage to all.

      Sharing these thoughts with one another seems to me to carry its own active power; a living breathing momentum that stirs within each of us… the fact that you shared your experience has altered my world today and that is a powerful thing.

      1. And another puzzle piece falls into place. Have I suffered because I didn’t coddle the male ego? I’m not a person who coddles. I worked surrounded by men. Even thinking about worrying about their egos makes my head hurt.
        I thought it was so simple: You said 2 + 2 = 10; I said no, it equals 4. Fix it and move on. Yea, that didn’t work so well. “She’s picking on me. She made me feel stupid!” @@

    2. Jeanie,
      Thank you for sharing these very powerful words, describing your very real journey. I had a dream, not too long ago, where I wailed so deep and so loud that I woke up feeling it ringing through my whole body. Perhaps the wail is exactly what wants to happen, in real life. Maybe even some ass-kicking.
      So happy to see you here.
      Love to you, Julie

  12. Profound message and so moving… the privilege/power paradigm is amazingly insightful. Responding to the Call of the Great Mother leads us down some breathtaking trails… I was led to this blog even as I am reading thru “The Great Mother…” by Carl Henrik Andreas Bjerregaard ~ where even in 1913 he was trying to convince people that a return to the feminine consciousness is the only avenue that will save humanity from utter destruction… thru-out history it seems there were some men who were open enough (had enough feminine consciousness!) to see the true nature of things…

    So encouraging now to see the feminine consciousness re-emerging in the world with such a vengeance!

    1. Jella, Yes, I can see the trade-off. It is so important for each of us to see.
      I’m glad you were led here. Thank you for sharing your insights. This book looks amazing. She is re=emerging, and also emerging as something new. Blessings, Julie

  13. I love this conversation — This morning, I’m stunned by how “silence earns me privilege and costs me power….” and I’m thinking about how I need to take a good, long and bold look at that. What is privilege, anyway? Is it privilege or protection? And is privilege or protection based on distortions and out-right wrongs and maybe even evil really authentic privilege or protection, or just cover-ups and body bags, zipped around the parts of ourselves that are afraid to live loud and naked and real?
    The cost of my silence is exacted from my autonomy and personal authority — and the price I pay for it is extracted from my body. Is it worth it to speak up? And how and where and with whom do I speak up so that my words and my effort matter and are not just lost in the quicksand pits of “the way it’s always been”? Thank you, Julie — for making me think some more and wake up some more and then some more after that — JM

    1. “And is privilege or protection based on distortions and out-right wrongs and maybe even evil really authentic privilege or protection, or just cover-ups and body bags, zipped around the parts of ourselves that are afraid to live loud and naked and real?”

      Interesting: unauthentic privilege and protection envisioned as cover-ups and body bags. I’m going to have to think about this for awhile.

  14. This is so true and wonderfully said. I have always felt on some level when it comes to countering oppressive force, silence is permission. By that I mean speaking out can be hard and daunting but if when people of privilege do not speak out against the injustice they see-they are giving permission for those things to exist. Also, people who are being disprivilege must speak out, too but how many times do those voices get thrown to the side. It takes all of us to shake this world up.

  15. Oh Julie. I’m finally reading this. I’ve been…avoiding? distancing? because I know that when I sit and look into the mirror you are holding up, there will be deep feelings. I am not up for it tonight but I am here and I stand, awed, by you, by the other women here, by all of us.

  16. I’ve often felt the same inchoate anger and knew not how to express it. Somehow it grieves me that my husband feels so little outrage on my behalf. I feel furious that he doesn’t want to protect my younger self. Thanks for making me think.

    1. Dear, El,
      Yes, I feel it too, sister. Yes.
      It’s a funny thing to know a man really loves you and doesn’t seem to feel the outrage. I don’t have answers other than each of us, man and woman, needs to look in our own hearts as to why we don’t speak up and out.
      With love, Julie

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