Voices for the Voiceless?

A recent commenter on my post, “Live Free or Die” expressed the view that those who cannot speak for themselves deserve a voice as well. And that got me thinking about giving voice to the voiceless.

If someone or something is truly voiceless, it would seem a little presumptuous to appoint oneself as the speaker for that voiceless being.  But all too often those who “give voice to the voiceless” are simply engaging in a ventriloquist’s act–and making the voiceless into their dummy.

The demands and desires that emerge are not necessarily the demands and desires of the voiceless, they are the demands and desires of the ventriloquist, who tries to make it appear as if they are coming from the voiceless.

Often those who are called “voiceless” are not really voiceless at all.  I remember, when defending my history thesis on Whiteclay, NE and the history of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, I was questioned about my lack of recommendations for resolving the continual problems of violence and alcohol abuse there.

My response was that I am not qualified to speak for the Oglala Lakota people, and if I tried to tell them what to do, I’d just be “one more white person trying to solve the ‘Indian problem.'”  Often, so-called minority groups are referred to as “voiceless” because they’re simply not listened to.

I do, of course, speak for my own minor child, but I do not mistake my voice for his.  He has his own clear and opinionated voice, and he is quite good at making his own desires heard.  However, as his mother, I am responsible for making decisions for him, and for approving those decisions he makes on his own.

Some would like to give voice to the voiceless in women’s wombs.  That seems like a noble cause, though I would prefer not to have my uterus involved in a ventriloquism act.  For better or worse, a fetus does not have a voice.  Those who want to give the fertilized egg, the embryo, or the fetus a voice are giving it their own voice.

The real problem comes when those who would perform a ventriloquism act with women’s wombs drown out the voices of the owners of those wombs, creating yet another wave of voicelessness.  But women can speak, and vote, for themselves, even if the ventriloquists aren’t listening.  And I am interested to see what they say in November.

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4 responses

  1. I finally read Measure 11. I didn’t bother before because anything restrcting abortion is an automatic No from me! Now that I’ve read it, I think the part that actually disturbs me most is the long-winded defining of a fetus as a person and assertions of biological fact. Not only that, but they claim abortion is harmful to women but have no mental health exception. Apparently, it is okay to abort if any organ is failing, but not if your mind is failing.

    It’s scary to me that all of the positions taken by your anti-abortion commentors in previous posts are actually portrayed in a Measure that could become law of the land by the end of the year, including legally defining a zygote as a full-fledged member of the human community worthy of protection by the state.

    Next thing you know, I’ll be getting thrown in the clink if I forget to take a prenatal vitamin.

  2. I wrote on another attachment yesterday-lots of typos-only had a minute at work.
    Anyway, I strongly think that for anyone “on the fence” on this-that your campaign should include facts about the dangers of illegal abortion-the fact that making it illegal does NOT lower the rate, and the responsibility of forced pregnancy-a full term pregnancy and delivery is always much riskier-physically and mentally than an abortion even in healthy women!!! If these anti-women people succeed in forcing someone to stay pregnant-what happens if the girl or woman dies in childbirth, suffers post partum depression and commits suicide, commits infanticide, is permanently emotionally devasted from giving up her child for adoption, neglects her other children, ruins others’ lives be revealing a pregnancy that should have been a secret, takes the demeaning rape test and it turns the pastor is the father, ETC…?. Who will carry the responsibility for these things? OR-if she becomes infertile from an illegal abortion-who is responsible for her “never born” children. Also what if someone’s pastor decides life begins at egg? Do all South Dakota females between 11 and 50 need to strip down for two weeks a month?

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