when I think of silencing
I think of guns, a shot
muffled, muted
disguised into something else

murder execution-style
but with cowardice

but this too is cowardice
2 women gaveled silent
elected women
stopped from speaking

because 1 word echoed loudly
in that chamber;
not a curse, but a 6-letter
clinical description
of what we were all
pushed out of
and some try
to crawl back into
was offensive:
they said vagina.

Not pussy, gash, slash
or even
that you-know-what you-know-where
word/maybe a blush and a stutter

the clinical equivalent of
hallux as big toe
but between the legs

no, the problem was not the naming
of that passage, that vault
as what it is clinically

not a fountain of
monthly curse
but more blessing
life and pleasure

but not legislated

their sin was not
the naming of it vagina,

but telling all those men

to stay out of it.

***This is my penance for misspeaking in a dialog about the incidents in Michigan.  Celia White, this is for you.

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
This entry was posted in New Free Verse, silence and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to silencing

  1. cherylmoore says:

    Hi, Susan, this is powerful and empowering. I’m glad I found your blog. It’s good to meet you. Cheryl

  2. nelle says:

    And Susan Daniels, I raise my can of raspberry-lime seltzer water to you in toast and in solidarity. while imagining Kathy Bates yelling not ‘Towanda’ in a hypothetical twenty-first century remake of Fried Green Tomatoes, but, ‘Vagina!’ She drives forward and impacts, reverses, and rams the Speaker’s new car a second, third, and fourth time.

    Then again, perhaps the women of the Michigan assembly change their last name to the word starting with V, the one which should never be uttered in the halls of governance, forcing its repeated call in the course of leadership duties.

    I found a few blog posts I wrote in 2007, the general theme a lament on encroachment upon reproductive rights, but another over use of the unspeakable word. What got me was the closing of one post, speculating this nonsense had to ease sometime. How stupid of me.

    • Nelle, the nonsense will end, sometime, somewhere–but not, apparently for us. We are stuck in a land and time where we must forever call a vagina a hoo-hoo in all legislation from this point forward.

      Can I have some of that seltzer–my 2 favorite flavors…. And I will yell with Kathy bates, too 🙂 Would love to see those posts…

  3. nelle says:

    I’ll send you the links…I posted them on a facebook group page (She Votes.)

  4. Jeremy Nathan Marks says:

    I have been following this “story,” this ridiculous, bald faced misogyny in Michigan. “Murder but with cowardice” is an interesting line because murder seems like cowardice to me on the surface. But this phrasing really works because what is it that is being murdered in Michigan and elsewhere? It isn’t the legislator herself or even a woman’s right to choose. . . it is something else.

    I don’t even think people have it right when they say freedom is being silenced in this abortion crusade. It is worse than that. This is about silencing woman to the point where they are not even allowed to name their own bodies or even, perhaps, have a language with which to speak of their own bodies and therefore their own selves. That is something so sinister, so dangerous, so violent I don’t know quite what the proper name for it is. I think of the great cudgel that is “power” when it is wielded by empowered, wealthy, and armed elites and that, to me, is what the American oligarchy is.

    This is righteous.

    • Jeremy, you have a beautiful and just mind. Thank you for your words–you are right, what is being murdered here, execution style but with a silencer on the gun, are the voices of women–up to and including the voices of women legislators elected to speak for others. This is a power whose violence is the taking of the power of naming things that belong to us ourselves, from anyone who dares speak against it, and I am sure it will not stop with women. This scares the hell out of me.

  5. Rhonda says:

    Susan….my “foramen” tingled when I read this. I’ll join you and nelle in hailing
    mistress-bates TO-VAGINAS!!! (LOVE THIS SITE)
    pl. foramina, 1670s, from L. foramen “hole, opening, aperture, orifice,” from forare “to pierce” (see bore).

  6. Karin Wiberg says:

    YES! Thank You!!!!

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