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Keep speaking. It is a first step.

The next step is empowered speech. Somehow empowerment must be placed behind the words. For example, if poverty groups were delegated to get together and make all Canada's new Senate appointments then poverty speakers would be empowered.

It is difficult for groups to discover empowerment especially as, in politics (as in relationships), there is much deception.

omigod, this is SO TIMELY! i had a conversation three weeks ago with a close someone who suggested i share too much or cross lines or something on my blog. well, he didn't actually say i share too much, but the innuendo was palpable. it was a bit weird, that conversation, because like your challenger, he is an agitator in his own right. he lobbed me seemingly soft questions, like how do i feel saying "so much" or putting such matter "out there" - not sure if he was couching a sharper challenge or conveying the curiosity of a non-writer/non-blogger who might genuinely want to understand the emotional or intellectual process behind Speaking Truth on a blog. however innocent his motive, it made me feel icky. ehrenreich helps me understand why. i question my own self often enough, thank you very much, not just about how i dare say things or where, but that i think or feel them at all. it would be nice to know that someone so close doesn't wonder about why i do it, or whether it's ok to. shouldn't we all be engaged in one giant beg-in, encouraging everyone around us to speak, express, rant, propose? and if a loved one says something we wouldn't, in a way we wouldn't, shouldn't we hug her instead of dabbling in shame?

Well, it reassures me too to know that someone like you has gone through the same sort of thing. I am sure that to an extent loved ones and friends may question us out of concern and care. But, I don't think any of us can underestimate the ways we are all complicit with silencing, power over, and control.

It hurts so much though when people you care about say something that makes you feel that maybe you should be ashamed. Maybe, they are scared because they can't confront the ways they have been shamed.

I know that a lot of people are uncomfortable with discussion that pushes the boundaries. But, for me, it is the silence that is intolerable.

I know I've come out in favour of shame before, but when I think about it, all I meant was restraint, or discretion. I like reading or hearing about the personal lives of folks, and if I don't, I don't bother reading.

What I find disconcerting are people who don't know what "too much information" is. And I'm not even talking about fine-line stuff, because I'm fine with that, I'm fine with the intimate details of people's lives. What I'm talking about is stuff like complete strangers going on in great detail about their gross medical conditions, or how much their wife irritates them.

You're right that shame is used coercively. Personally I also find it a great motivator, not that I would use it (consciously) to motivate others.

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