Women’s Voices by Puddi Kullberg, Jungian Analyst

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In Praise of When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice (2012) by Terry Tempest Williams

Women’s Voices

I am now 67 years old. The summer of my 16th year I sat on the dock at Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, and over the course of several sunny days, I simultaneously tried to get a good tan and read Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. It changed my life forever. Not the tan.

Don’t get me wrong, I went on to follow a very conventional life-style for the next two decades. However, the seeds of discontent had been planted. My inchoate considerations of my life in my family, in the Catholic Church, in the patriarchal academy and employment sectors and society of the United States in the late sixties had not escaped my observation. Here was someone who was articulating my dilemmas and puncturing my various denials.

After seeing the movie Tom and Viv  in 1994, I refused to read anyone but women authors for many years to come.  The whole “women are crazy” just got to be too much for me to bear – think Sylvia Plath, Virginia Wolf, Zelda Fitzgerald, Viv of course. Not to mention the prevailing etiology of serious mental illness at that time? The crazy (frigid) mother and/or penis envy.

Neither did I buy the tag line, “But it is symbolic” about Thelma and Louise having to sail the car off the cliff or “But it’s the myth” when Jen in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon leaps into the ethers above the valley to escape an impossible life.

Women’s voices saved my life. During my self-imposed male author hiatus, I became accustomed to the sound of women’s voices speaking to me from all realms of endeavor. Eventually and without any conscious decision on my part, I was back to reading men authors as well as women. It had taken a seriously long time, about ten years I would say, of immersion into the realm of the sisters, mothers and daughters to heal the women-are–crazy wound in my psyche.

I have just come across a Holocaust book, Where Every Single One Was Someone (2013) by Phil Chernosfsky. The entire volume is a repetition of the word JEW, six million times. Some say it is more a work of art than “a book”. In the spirit of repetition, if I was to write such a book, here is my list of names that would be reiterated over and over and over again. The women’s voices who saved my life – provoked, enlightened, sustained, entertained and educated me – from the time of that 16 year old teenager until now (excluding family and friends).

Betty Freidan Erica Jong Madeline Albright Willa Cather Gerda Lerner Elaine Pagels Alexandra David-Neel Beryl Markham Anne Morrow Lindberg Lucile Clifton Betty Meador Linda Leonard Sherry Salman Annie Liebowitz Louise Bourgoise Mira Nair Deepa Mehta Jane Campion Taiye Selasi Abi Maxwell Amy Cutty Betty Freidan Erica Jong Madeline Albright Willa Cather Gerda Lerner Elaine Pagels Alexandra David-Neel Beryl Markham Anne Morrow Lindberg Lucile Clifton Betty Meador Linda Leonard Sherry Salman Annie Liebowitz Louise Bourgoise Mira Nair Deepa Mehta Jane Campion Taiye Selasi Abi Maxwell Amy Cutty Betty Freidan Erica Jong Madeline Albright Willa Cather Gerda Lerner Elaine Pagels Alexandra David-Neel Beryl Markham Anne Morrow Lindberg Lucile Clifton Betty Meador Linda Leonard Sherry Salman Annie Liebowitz Louise Bourgoise Mira Nair Deepa Mehta Jane Campion Taiye Selasi Abi Maxwell Amy Cutty Betty Freidan Erica Jong Madeline Albright Willa Cather Gerda Lerner Elaine Pagels Alexandra David-Neel Beryl Markham Anne Morrow Lindberg Lucile Clifton Betty Meador Linda Leonard Sherry Salman Annie Liebowitz Louise Bourgoise Mira Nair Deepa Mehta Jane Campion Taiye Selasi Abi Maxwell Ami Cutty Betty Freidan Erica Jong Madeline Albright Willa Cather Gerda Lerner Elaine Pagels Alexandra David-Neel Beryl Markham Anne Morrow Lindberg Lucile Clifton Betty Meador Linda Leonard Sherry Salman Annie Liebowitz Louise Bourgoise Mira Nair Deepa Mehta Jane Campion Taiye Selasi Abi Maxwell Amy Cutty …

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