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Posted by on Oct 14, 2016 in 2016 Elections, Education, Passages, Society, Women | 23 comments

Speak Up: Defy Those Who Attempt to Silence A Woman by Attack, Denigration:


Dear Brave Souls:
If you want to try to silence a woman,
attack by s&s, screed and screech:
You are not ready yet,
You’re stupid,
You are not good enough,
You’re an idiot,
Who do you think you are?
Shut up. I said, Shut up!
Tell her you’ll help her, but then don’t
Tell her you’ll respect her, but then don’t…

For every woman, and every man who has ever had those who try to silence them when they speak, not just verifiable truths, but/and when they speak the undeniable, irrevocable Truths of the Soul…

Meaning this: merciful care of the World Soul and the Souls in that world, is our work on Earth many of us are called to in our own ways.

Repair of the World Soul [called in Hebrew, tikkun olam] is our work, OUR work, by which a nation is judged as to whether it has a Soul … or whether it has lost its Soul somewhere along the way and can no longer find it without help …

help from the people … the people who speak,
the people who will not cease speaking up …
and speaking out … and speaking for.

Let us continue then and let it be said now,
gently, in our own ways,
and yet relentlessly in our own ways …
let it be said, and let us not back away . . .

When someone says, “We’re saying the same thing.”
Say, “We are not saying the same thing.”

When someone says, “Don’t question, just have faith.”
Say, “I am questioning, vato, and
I have supreme faith in what I think.”

When someone says, “Don’t defy my authority.”
Say, “There is a higher authority that I follow.”

When someone says, “Your ideas are seductive.”
Say, “No, my ideas are not seductive,
they are substantial.”

When someone says, “Your ideas are dangerous.”
Say, “Yes, my ideas are dangerous, and why are you
so afraid hombre o mujer? ”

When it is said, “It’s just not done.”
Say, “It will be done.”

When it is said, “It is immature.”
Say, “All life begins small and
must be allowed to grow.”

When it is said, “It’s not thought out.”
Say, “It is well thought out.”

When they say, “You’re over-reacting.”
Say, “You’re under-reacting, vato.”

When they say, “You’re being emotional.”
Say, “Of course I have well placed emotions,
and by the way, what happened to yours?”

When they say, “You’re not making any sense.”
Say, “I don’t make sense, I am the sense.”

When they say, “I can’t understand you
when you’re crying.”
Say, “Make no mistake, I can weep and be fierce
at the same time.”

When they say, “I cant understand you
when you’re being so angry.”
Say. “You couldn’t hear me when I was being nice,
or sweet or silent, either.”

When someone says, “You’re missing the point.”
Say, “I’m not missing the point, but you seem
to be missing my point —
What are you so afraid of?”

When someone says, “You are breaking the rules.”
Say, “Yes, I am breaking the rules.”

When someone says, “That’s not practical.”
Say, “It’s practically a done deal, thank you very much.”

When it is said, “No one will do it,
believe you, or follow it.”

Say, “I will do it, I will believe in it, and in time,
the world may well follow it.”

When it is said, “No one wants to listen to that.”
Say, “I know you have a hard time listening to that.”

When it is said, “It’s a closed system,
you cant change it.”
Say, “I’m going to knock twice
and if there is no answer,
then I am going to blow the doors off that system
and it will change.”

When it is said, “They’ll ignore you.”
Say, “They won’t ignore me
and the hundreds of thousands who stand with me.”

When they say, “It’s already been done.”
Say, “It’s not been done well enough.”

When they say, “It’s not yet time.”
Say, “It’s way past time.”
When they say, “It’s not the right day,
right month, right year.”
Tell them, “The right year was last year,
and the right month was last month,
and the right day was yesterday,
and you’re running behind schedule, vato,
and what in the name of God and all that is holy
are you going to do about it?”

When they say, “Who do you think you are?” —
tell them who you are,
and don’t hold back.

When they say, “I put up with it,
you’ll have to put up with it too.”
Say, “No, no, no, no.”

When they say, “I’ve suffered a long time
and you’ll have to suffer too.”
Say, “No, no, no, no.”

When they say, “You’re an incorrigible,
hard to get along with,
unreasonable woman … ”
Say, “Yes, yes, yes, yes …

and I have worse news for you yet —

We are teaching our daughters,
and our mothers,
and our sisters …
we are teaching our sons,
and our fathers,
and our brothers–

to be

This blessing poem I wrote as a chant, a lyric form from my ethnic tradition. It is made to be spoken aloud, so not just its meanings, but its heartbeat, can be discerned; enjoined. Colloquially, in the family, we’d call it a song or hymn rather than a poem, in this case, a “song for straight vision and strength.” The word vato, is a slang Spanish word, an informal way of addressing a man, such as in the street … e.g., “Man, don’t you realize?” Vato is also a reference to a ‘street-wise’ person.

Over time, this prayer-poem has been put forth at the United Nations, and presented during a tribal women’s coalition in South Africa, as well as carried into session at the parliament in the Netherlands, and given before U.S. Congressional hearings on welfare reform in the 1990s. Its original name is “How To Silence A Woman, Retrieving Her Voice,” ©1980, 2008, C.P. Estés, All Rights Reserved. This letter to you, by same name, as previous, ©2016.

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Copyright 2016 The Moderate Voice
  • Shaun Mullen

    Thank you, Dr. E. Thank you.

    I can only add that while it sometimes seems that what progress we make as a people is halting at best, we do seem to have moved beyond the silence that pretty much typified the reaction to Bill Clinton and Clarence Thomas, to name but two public officials who took for granted the silence of women in the face of their predations.

    The lede to the draft of my forthcoming Monday column:

    “We owe Donald Trump an enormous debt.  Seriously.  Beyond him assuring a Hillary Clinton presidency when almost any other Republican might have beaten her, his own repellent behavior has forced a long overdue national discussion on the objectification and sexual debasement of women.”

    • The Ohioan

      National statistics 1 in 5 women have been raped; 1 in 71 men have been raped. Most were committed by men and most victims knew their rapist.

      When it comes to the objectification and sexual debasement of women, the current media industry, while run by men for the most part, relies on women to do the objectification. Watching the latest movies, music videos, and star walks at the Oscar and Emmy awards is a revelation about whose dress and actions are contributing to the victimization, sometimes by portraying the victim.

      When we begin to see movies and TV programs portraying women as confidently repelling sexual objectification instead of contributing to it, and successfully putting down those who would attempt to do so, we may be ready to start that conversation. I don’t think we’re there yet.

    • dduck


      • dduck

        Yup+++, for SM

    • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

      thank you Shaun, I’ll look forward to reading your article. Many women on my facebook page haev mentioned the dual oddity of having old wounds resurface this week from just sudden shocks that a man goes about ‘accepted’ for vile behavior, and yet at same time, this bankrupt behavior brings focus above ground to issues that women have been shouted down for, many many times. Appreciate your perspective.

    • jdledell

      Shaun – I hope you are right about “a long overdue national discussion on the objectification and sexual debasement of women”. I thought the same thing about a national discussion of race relations when Obama was elected. I hope I am not disappointed again.

      • Shaun Mullen

        I don’t want to give away the conclusion of my forthcoming column, but suffice it to say that I believe you and I will be disappointed. Again.

    • ScarlettDGray


  • KP


    I will pass this along to my family.

  • SteveK

    As always dr.e… Thank you. You make this world / the world a better place.

    • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

      thank you steve k. You also. I keep thinking of how you care about many, and also the beautiful rings you make that make people happy for not a king’s ransom, but the rings look like a million bucks.

  • The Ohioan

    Powerful, Dr. E. As always. I’m glad to see your blessing poem was appreciated by a wide audience.

  • Brownies girl

    What a wonderful poem — I LOVE it! It’s inspiring beyond words! With your permission, Dr E., I’m gonna be printing this up and framing it, in a prominent place in this old house. In a place I can readily see it everyday! (Either the kitchen or the bathroom — the former is my first choice. 😉 ) I LOVE poetry – got to love it due to, of all people, Bob Dylan, whose lyrics led me on to more and more poetry that I got to study in part time university courses later in life. Others may disagree, but Dylan deserves that Nobel prize. He opened such a world of words to me, I can never thank him enough for his images in words — and I feel as grateful to you for the poem you’ve posted which gives me such inspiration, as I do to him, for opening a wonderful world of words to me, back when I was in my early 20’s – unformed, anxious and hungry for beauty and meaning in this world.

    The song of Dylan’s that moved me so much and opened that world to me came in 1964 — Mr. Tambourine Man …. he performed it at Newport — wish I’d been there to see it myself, didn’t get to go till ’65 — but I memorized the words and played it on my guitar for any and all who wanted to listen. And many did – it was the 60’s after all.

    It’s the last verse of his song that I still claim as mine, 50+ years later, the verse and images that spoke to me so strongly and still does, (as your poem above does):

    Take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
    Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
    The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
    Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
    Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
    Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
    With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
    Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

    Thanks so much for your post Dr. E, and for your poem — I’ll treasure that for a long long time. BG

    • Bob Munck

      Newport — … didn’t get to go till ’65

      Hey! I was there too!! It was the first summer that I stayed over at Brown to work in the Computing Lab. That was the Festival where Dylan went electric — I for one didn’t hear any booing. He finished his set with Mr. Tambourine Man, with a galaxy of folk stars on stage with him.

      Starting in 65, I went to every Newport Festival, Folk and Jazz, until they stopped having them in 72. Missed in 71 in order to pick up my girlfriend (now wife) at grad school in Toronto and go camping in the Maritimes and Newfoundland. We’ve been to a couple of the new series in Fort Adams park in Newport.

      • Brownies girl

        YOU were there in ’65? Wow, we might even have jostled shoulders! I missed where Dylan went electric in ’65, don’t know where I was, but I didn’t see it. Was probably swooning over Phil Ochs who was another GREAT lyric poet! Saw Dylan in ’66 at Massey Hall here in Toronto tho – first half was acoustic – 2nd half was electric and couldn’t believe that the band (The Band!) backing him up were the same guys we regularly sat and watched while drinking draft at the bar in ‘The Hawk’s Nest’ on Yonge Street for so many years. They were the “bar band” back then. My former hubby went to school with Robbie Robertson at RH King Collegiate and knew him well, probably the first Native Indian he’d ever met. The crowd booed the electric portion of the show at Massey Hall, but not me — not ever! I thought it was fabulous! Loved every second. The world was turning, stuff was changing, Dylan was breaking new ground and you’d have had to be a moron not to see it and understand it. Glorious it was!

        So glad to hear you too have wonderful memories of those days – all hooked up with meeting your future wife. There was something electric in the air back then — the music, all of it, seemed so meaningful and heart-wrenching somehow. Emotions rode high — GOOD and kind emotions too, seemed to me. Am so glad I lived to experience the late 50’s and all the 60’s — and then came Janis, who’s songs broke my heart with their honesty. Holy cow, I should write a book! Thanks for your reply, Bob – its been a good day! BG

        • Bob Munck

          swooning over Phil Ochs

          I saw Ochs a couple of times at the Second Fret in Philadelphia, once with the Weavers. Our folkie of choice is Tom Rush; we’ve probably seen him live a hundred times over 50 years. Also Buskin & Batteau, Judy Collins.

          then came Janis, who’s songs broke my heart with their honesty.

          I saw Janis at Woodstock, then two nights later at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. Also The Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and a whole bunch of Merry Pranksters.

          The world was turning, stuff was changing, Dylan was breaking new ground and you’d have had to be a moron not to see it and understand it. Glorious it was!

          This may sound weird, but I agree for an entirely different reason. I was learning my trade back then, and things like the IBM/370 line, Modula-2, and advances in virtual memory were what I found thrilling. Also the moon landings, working on the Viking camera, quarks and quasars. I guess geeks have different motivations. Btw, met my wife at the national conference of the Association of Computing Machinery in DC. She was working at NBS, had signed up for my programming course the next semester.

    • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

      dylan … prob I’ve rarely heard his music past my teen years, but have read his hundreds of songs in print over and over as an adult just to see how his philosophy of life has developed. . Just completely interesting.

  • jdledell

    Doctor e- Thank you for this inspiring “song/poem”. I was particularly struck by your referencing “It is made to be spoken aloud, so not just its meanings, but its heartbeat, can be discerned;” As a musician – the heartbeat is the most important part of what makes the difference between ordinary music and great music.

    • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

      oh gosh, thank you Jdledell, of course you would understand the music cadences in words. Tres cool. Thank you for saying it out loud. It made me heart happy.

  • dduck

    Yup: ABC News host George Stephanopoulos served as the communications director in Clinton’s 1992 campaign. Stephanopoulos wrote in All Too Human, that when Connie Hamzy, one of the first women to claim a sexual encounter with Bill, came forward Hillary said, “We have to destroy her story.”

    • Bob Munck

      Connie Hamzy … Hillary said, “We have to destroy her story.”

      So what did she do to Hamzy? Play the Grand Funk song that mentions her as a world-class groupie? Maybe the Hillary quote is just locker war room talk.

  • victorialena

    Yes, I will frame this too, if that is ok…it stings true, so true
    and I will share it well.
    Thank you Dr E, I am so grateful, always

  • Dr. Arif Ahmad

    Excellante. The sad part is that even decades after the women are still not equal in so many ways and I am talking the most advanced nation on the planet.

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