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PHD-DESIGN  July 2018

PHD-DESIGN July 2018

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Subject:

Re: Mansplaining

From:

Luke Feast <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related research in Design <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 25 Jul 2018 23:13:33 +0100

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text/plain

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Dear Gunner, and all,

Thanks for your post. As you note the spark from which term ‘mansplaining’ developed comes from Rebecca Solnit’s (2015) essay Men Explain Things to Me. My favourite piece of hers is her essay A Short History of Silence. Here Solnit (2017, p.17) writes “Words bring us together, and silence separates us.” I think the belief expressed in this quote is relevant to this discussion. 

Solnit is a wonderful writer and so I have copied below the excerpt from which this quote was taken. It’s worth reading.

-snip-
Silence is golden, or so I was told when I was young. Later, everything changed. Silence equals death, the queer activists fighting the neglect and repression around AIDS shouted in the streets. Silence is the ocean of the unsaid, the unspeakable, the repressed, the erased, the unheard. It surrounds the scattered islands made up of those allowed to speak and of what can be said and who listens. Silence occurs in many ways for many reasons; each of us has his or her own sea of unspoken words.

English is full of overlapping words, but for the purposes of this essay, regard silence as what is imposed and quiet as what is sought. The tranquility of a quiet place, of quieting one’s own mind, of a retreat from words and bustle, is acoustically the same as the silence of intimidation or repression but psychically and politically something entirely different. What is unsaid because serenity and introspection are sought is as different from what is not said because the threats are high or the barriers are great as swimming is from drowning. Quiet is to noise as silence is to communication. The quiet of the listener makes room for the speech of others, like the quiet of the reader taking in words on the page, like the white of the paper taking ink.

We are volcanoes,” Ursula K. Le Guin once remarked. “When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.” The new voices that are undersea volcanoes erupt in open water, and new islands are born; it’s a furious business and a startling one. The world changes. Silence is what allows people to suffer without recourse, what allows hypocrisies and lies to grow and flourish, crimes to go unpunished. If our voices are essential aspects of our humanity, to be rendered voiceless is to be dehumanized or excluded from one’s humanity. And the history of silence is central to women’s history.

Words bring us together, and silence separates us, leaves us bereft of the help or solidarity or just communion that speech can solicit or elicit. Some species of trees spread root systems underground that interconnect the individual trunks and weave the individual trees into a more stable whole that can’t so easily be blown down in the wind. Stories and conversations are like those roots…
-snip-


Solnit, R. (2017). A Short History of Silence. In The Mother of All Questions (pp. 17-52). Chicago: Haymarket.

Solnit, R. (2015). Me Explain Thing To Me. Chicago: Haymarket.




Best wishes,

Luke


--

Luke Feast, Ph.D. | Senior Lecturer | Industrial Design | School of Art and Design | Auckland University of Technology | New Zealand | Email [log in to unmask]


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