Week 10

I’ve been struggling with Longing to Tell over the past week. I found all of the stories moving and illuminating; many of the themes were topics that I don’t have knowledge of firsthand, so they were, at times, difficult to confront so openly. I don’t know how anyone could read this book and not be touched on a fundamental human level, what’s more though, is how Rose wrote these women’s stories in a way that shifts the narrative to their frame of reference. By doing so, the reader is in a better position to understand these women’s points of view, rather than view them from the outside (such as with pity, judgement, etc.). This book also horrified me in the sense that it made me think of how common these experiences truly are. Until reading, I would have said that such situations were the exception rather than the rule, but now I question that assumption, especially because, as we discussed, women in general, and particularly women of color, are constrained by societal taboos surrounding women’s sexual identities and histories. What particularly troubled me, as it has throughout the course, is the silence imposed on women of color through this massive and complex web of double standards, paradoxical stereotypes and systematic devaluing. I almost wish we would have done a more in-depth analysis of maybe one story from each chapter, seeing the common experiences emerge in different ways in such intimate and individual stories was pretty powerful. I was, and am still, unsettled by the prevalence of sexual abuse throughout and think that this is probably what I’m struggling with most, except perhaps the general sense of hopelessness that came over me when reading. Although I was profoundly impressed by the fact that these women were able to vocalize and share their stories, I was left wondering if the only hope some readers will have is that now they know they aren’t alone and that their experiences, feelings, thoughts, anxieties, ambitions, are valid.

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