This past class when we started discussing multicultural women writers, I found myself genuinely intrigued. All three women: Kingston, Anzaldua, and Walker were exceptionally strong individuals that shared their thoughts with the world through literary works.
This being said, something about Gloria Anzaldua’s writing kept pulling me back to her excerpt more so than the other two writers. I can recall sitting in the library reading “Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to Third World Women Writers” and feeling a kind of connection to the text. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was at the time, I just knew that there was something spectacular underlying the print on the page. After our class discussion it became more clear to me that what I was feeling was humanity. Genuine, raw emotion. How long has it been since we’ve truly felt something from a work of literature? I feel as though we’ve become complacent with the emotionally detached world in which we live. When did this become acceptable? Why are truth and passion suddenly rarities?
Gloria Anzaldua recognized these flaws in society and refused to stand by and watch them happen- at least not without a fight. In her work, “Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to Third World Women Writers”, Anzaldua addresses her own personal battles as a gay, Chicana woman writer and the oppression of multiple groups of women. She bluntly expresses her opinions on the wrongs of this world and how oppressed female writers can overcome their adversity.
One of my favorite passages in “Speaking in Tongues” is Anzaldua’s response to a quote by Naomi Littlebear; it says,
“Why am I compelled to write? Because the writing saves me from this complacency I fear. Because I have no choice. Because I must keep the spirit of my revolt and myself alive. Because the world I create in the writing compensates for what the real world does not give me. By writing I put order in the world, give it a handle so I can grasp it. I write because life does not appease my appetites and hunger. I write to record what others erase when I speak, to rewrite the stories others have miswritten about me, about you. To become more intimate with myself and you. To discover myself, preserve myself, to make myself, to achieve self-autonomy. To dispell the myths that I am a mad prophet or a poor suffering soul. To convince myself that I am worthy and that what I have to say is not a pile of shit. To show that I can and that I will write, never mind the outraged gasp of the censor and the audience. Finally I write because I’m scared of writing but I’m more scared of not writing.” (319)
I find myself rereading it over and over again, each time feeling more empowered by her words. To try and cut down this quote is impossible; each line is an important piece of Anzaldua’s message. But when I try to break it apart, this is what I get: She writes because the world isn’t enough for her. It doesn’t give her what she deserves. She writes to tell the untold stories of those left in the shadows of “bigger, more important” people. She writes because it is a way to discover and hold onto herself, and, in the process, make her closer to her readers. But most importantly, she writes because she wants to write. She could care less about what her opposers think a woman writer should be. In the text she even states, “Forget the room of one’s own–write in the kitchen, lock yourself up in the bathroom. Write on the bus or the welfare line, on the job or during meals, between sleeping and waking. I write while sitting on the john.” (320) This statement in itself is broad, and brave, and blunt. Women in the welfare line can write? The day to day mother can be the next Emily Bronte? As basic as that is for our generation, it was pretty edgy to put into writing and it ignited a fire within the hearts of thousands of women around the world. It’s funny, really. Through her cussing and blunt shout-outs to wrongs in society, Anzaldua displayed an air of power and confidence and inspired a whole wave of strong, independent women.
These passages from “Speaking in Tongues” and various others exemplify the type of woman that Gloria Anzaldua was. A no-nonsense, sailor-mouthed warrior for equality for all people no matter the shape, size, gender, preference, or race; and the powerhouse behind a movement to end the oppression. Honestly, I feel bad for Anzaldua’s opposers.
A woman who writes has power….and a woman with power is feared.