‘The Tyranny of Silence’: The Uses of the Erotic in Audre Lorde’s Poetry


The idea of passion and pain becomes important to understand the erotic in Lorde’s poetry. It is soaked with a fearlessness with which she demands other women to speak. The notion of the erotic which has always been seen in the mainstream as closely aligned to the idea of the sexual act, finds a new freedom in the works of Lorde. For she passionately pleads for precisely this ability to pour out without feeling shame, disgust or fear. We are programmed to hide or to show but never truly be ourselves- free to be seen and heard as we want. The silences that we yearn to break but are forced to keep against our will. It is in these terms she articulates fear which she primarily understands as a fear to be seen, to be visible in a society that has taught us to be anything but our true selves, that has always prescribed only certain ways of existing. My paper will examine how resisting this ‘tyranny of silence' is a battle for space, for representation, a battle to be heard and to break the silences within the archive of women’s writing. Through this unrestrained capacity to speak, to initiate dialogue with the feminist movements that have remained silent on Black women’s rights, the erotic is transformed into an act that no longer allows invisibility but rather the erotic becomes something of a tool at our disposal that brings us freedom from the isolation caused by our silences.

Author Information
Swarnika Ahuja, Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, India

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2023
Stream: Feminism / Black Feminism

This paper is part of the ACCS2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Ahuja S. (2023) ‘The Tyranny of Silence’: The Uses of the Erotic in Audre Lorde’s Poetry ISSN: 2187-4751 The Asian Conference on Cultural Studies 2023: Official Conference Proceedings https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2187-4751.2023.7
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2187-4751.2023.7

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon