Unspeakable: A Feminist Ethic of Speech, by Betty McLellan.
Unspeakable: A Feminist Ethic of Speech, by Betty McLellan. Australia: Spinifex Press, 2010.
An excellent overview of feminist debates that proclaims feminism is about speaking out in dissent to the status quo—despite the efforts to silence us.
Betty McLellan has written a much-needed book about feminism’s fundamental beliefs. Her writing is very accessible and solid; neither densely theoretical nor flashy. Always sensitive to differences of race, class and sexual orientation, she asks us to think about what it means to call ourselves feminists. She summarizes the writings of some of my favorite feminists and introduces me to others that I did not know.
Tracing different strands of feminism, McLellan expresses the need for us to speak out against the power structures which seeks to silence women and other dissidents. While Carol Gilligan’s work is significant in pointing out how men and women think differently about caring and justice, rights and responsibility, it does not address needed structural change. Liberal feminists are too often seeking a seat at the table, rather than trying to upset its hierarchy. Too many of those who espouse postmodernism seek to remain neutral or apolitical rather than naming oppression. McLellan goes on to explore the ways in which free speech is as meaningless as free trade for those, like women, who are ignored and excluded from power. I agree with much that she says, but she leaves me pondering just how radical I am. I’d like to discuss some of this.
Would anyone like to read and discuss this book with me over the next three and a half months? I am suggesting that we read and discuss McLellan’s introduction this month and then take a month to read and discuss each of her three sections Introduction–February
I. Free Speech versus Fair Speech—March
II. Silencing of Women—April
III.Speaking through the Silence—May
The book is published by Spinifex Press and available as an ebook. The sections are each range from 20 to 90 pages.