By MaryKate Schwerdt
The censorship of woman is to deny her participation in the cultural sphere. Since writing is immortal and it is the backbone of history, it is denying woman’s involvement in history. To deny the history of woman is to deny her existence.
Writing is so critical because it is the most sophisticated immortal manifestation of thought. To speak amongst and/or to the patriarchy is silly, but writing is dangerous. One must be taught to write; it is a skill. Because of this, the act of writing, for woman, evolves from place marking to forcing oppressors to acknowledge equality. The act of writing says, “I experienced this. I know about this. I have thoughts and feelings to express about this. I am just as capable as man to do so.”
Writing is a physical act, making the censorship of it all the more tangible. One takes hold of the pen, lowers it to paper, and moves it in various directions until the marks form letters that form sentences that form ideas. Through the movement of the pen, one’s insides come out. Cixous relevantly states, “Censor the body and you sensor breath and speech at the same time.” To sensor the physical act of writing, is to censor the writer’s act of being. This censorship stops the exhale of ideas, and the body dies.
To overcome these hurdles is no simple task. Woman is not a class. She is dispersed on the wealth spectrum, lives all over the world under various regimes, she has everything to lose, she has nothing to lose, she is only fighting this battle, she is fighting several. Cixous adamantly declares that women should write for other women to form a “unique empire” that unites woman and her various struggles. Anzaldúa blatantly answers Cixous’ call by writing letters to female minority writers, those who are facing race and sex struggles, and because of those, probably a class struggle too. In the opening paragraph of one of her letters she says, “As I grope for words and a voice to speak of writing, I stare at my brown hand clenching the pen and think of you thousands of miles away clutching your pen. You are not alone.” This is an outreach of solidarity to women who are trying to be shut up for a multitude of reasons. Anzaldúa is not only telling her hermanas to write, she is telling them to write of themselves, not to conform to the stiff rules of white patriarchal academia that does not and will not commend it.
This is a powerful deep message that encourages complete anarchy using only pen. Instead of trying to infiltrate the literary establishment, create a new one. One that the oppressors will have to conform to in order to understand. “What validates us as humans validates us as writers,” Anzaldúa says, echoing Cixous. Woman does not need a go-ahead to write, all she has to do is write to exhale her ideas and emotions into a new, ever growing community that strives for and thrives on equality.