Many years ago when I worked at Rusk Institute, I participated in a marathon session over several hours, led by experts in the sexuality of people with high level spinal cord injuries. It began with the lights out, all of us cross-legged on the floor, and the onset of rapid fire explicit images on film, with a constant barrage of spoken and shouted words depicting body parts and sex acts.
Suffice it to say that I had heard most of those words before, but never quite that way. Like many in the audience, I kept trying to keep my face from flushing and my eyes straight ahead. After several excruciating minutes of this, the leaders explained that it was one way to desensitize us to those images and words, in order that we own them, take away their power, and in claiming them, develop an ease and comfort in the subject. In this way, we would be able to be comfortable addressing sexuality with people who needed us to be frank and open and honest.
Words have power over us until we own them. Then, we have power over them.
Last night, I watched Representative Gabby Giffords on ABC. I was struck by her courage, fortitude, humor, sensibility. In short: her personhood.
I did not hear the word. No one spoke the word.
Aphasia waits there/Word with power to claim you/Speak it. Make it weak.