Language Theory

Speaking Freely: Unlearning the Lies of The Father’s Tongues

Speaking Freely: Unlearning
the Lies of the Fathers’
Julia PenelopeTeachers College Press1990

From the Introduction: English does more than hinder and hurt women: it proscribes the boundaries of the lives we might imagine and will ourselves to live. The many ways the language obstructs our ability to conceive of ourselves as agents in the world or as capable of rebelling against male tyranny go beyond mere hurt to emotional, intellectual, and physical immobility that keeps us men’s easy prey. We find it difficult to think outside of the categorical grooves made by men, and, even as we learn the courage and the necessity of speaking for ourselves, our thoughts still conform to the structures that perpetuate male dominance. Even as we demand the right to live and breathe independent of men and their dependence on us, our ideas slip into the grooves worn bu repetition. The record plays: “Mother, slave, housewife, slave, child, slave, woman, slave, whore; slave, slave, slave.” What’s more, most women remain mostly unconscious of how English forces us to repeat the structures that deny us stature and agency in the world and of the role of language in our oppression. Thinking about how we think is hard.

Julia Penelope wants to change the world. Her wise, witty and Wicked book, Speaking Freely, is a challenge to women to join her in the exhilarating task of ripping off the masters’ mind bindings and Naming the world and ourSelves. For readers who dare to trust their native intelligence and common sense, this eminently scholarly book is both readable and entertaining.

Mary Daly

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Glamour of Grammar
Chapter 2: Language Is a Woman
Chapter 3: The Patriarchal Universe of Discourse
Chapter 4: Gender: The Sex of Nouns
Chapter 5: Woman’s Place Is in the Home
Chapter 6: The Place of Women in English: History
Chapter 7: The Place of Women in English: Today
Chapter 8:That’s How It Is!”
Chapter 9: The Agents Within
Chapter 10: Acting in the World
Chapter 11: Speaking Out