Reviews

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, by Audre Lorde

waywardsin's review against another edition

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challenging hopeful informative inspiring reflective medium-paced

5.0

noniesrose's review against another edition

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5.0

Audre Lorde is one of my favourite poets. I came across her work through university, through an introduction to academic research class during my Bachelor's degree, as I was studying Black feminism. I later decided to write my first master thesis on sapphic poetry studying again Audre Lorde.

I am full of admiration of who this person was. She had such a way with words and was such a strong and inspiring woman. She had a lot to say, she needed to let her anger out while still being hopeful.

I'm finding it really hard to review her mind-blowing collection of essays. I lack words and feel like that no thoughts head empty meme, which doesn't do Lorde's work justice.

I believe her essays are definitely important pieces in feminist theories and movements. With Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde becomes one of the precursors for the concept of intersectionality. She talks about facing racism within feminist groups, misogyny within Black groups, homophobia within both. For instance, how white women will only focus on their oppression as women while not taking into account social class, age, race and sexual orientation differences.
Some of her sentences made me reflect on certain things: on the existence of sorority, on how oppressed groups always have to educate the oppressors, on the use of poetry, on the non-constructive discussions within oppressed groups in which "who is poorer than who, who is more Black than who" (kind of like when people on twitter talked about the dangers of those Olympic games of oppressed groups).

Audre Lorde and her work deserve and need to be studied, not only in the USA but in other countries as well. Here are my favourite essays: "Poetry Is Not a Luxury", "Sexism: An American Disease in Blackface", "Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference" and "Learning from the 60's".

helianthus_books's review against another edition

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challenging emotional informative reflective medium-paced

4.5

aico's review against another edition

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challenging informative inspiring reflective slow-paced

4.75

This was a vulnerable and deep exploration of knowledge gained from being on multiple axes of oppression. 

denw's review against another edition

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challenging informative reflective slow-paced

4.5

leelulah's review against another edition

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2.0

The good:

-Shows special concern for children, compared to other radfems
-Acknowledging that while accessible healthcare is a goal, the USSR wasn't a paradise, especially for their treatment of homosexuals
-Her words on poetry as a vital act for women, an act of resistance and a proof that not always feeling and thinking are necessarily at odds.
-Reflection on the awareness of death
-Importance of language
-Responsibility for others. Acknowledge difference but let it not become an excuse for separation as if an experience for someone of another race was totally unrelatable on that basis alone, which has become essential in today's identity politics.
-Opposes sterilization (... but, no mention of forced abortion).
Acknowledges women are put at odds between each other by the culture, and for the approval of men.
-Recognition of the manipulation of the erotic, "Pornography emphasizes sensation without feeling" [...]
"The principal error of any system which defines the good in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, or which defines human need to the exclusion of the psychic and emotional components of that need -the principal horror of such a system is that it robs our work of its erotic value, its erotic power and life appeal and fullfilment. Such a system reduces work to a travesty of necessities, a duty by which we earn bread or oblivion for ourselves and those we live. But this is tantamount to bringing a painter and then telling her to improve her work, and to enjoy the act of painting. It is not only next to impossible, it's also profoundly cruel."
-"There are frequent attempts to equate pornography and eroticism, two diametrically opposed uses of the sexual. Because of these attempts, it has become fashionable to separate the spiritual (psychic and emotional) from the political, to see them as contradictory or antithetical. “What do you mean, a poetic revolutionary, a meditating gunrunner? In the same way, we have attempted to separate the spiritual and the erotic, thereby reducing the spiritual to a world of flattened affect, a world of the ascetic who aspires to feel nothing."
-Recognizes separatism wouldn't work; importance of willing sacrifice
-Importance of black men articulating their thoughts; erradication of sexism benefits men, too.
-Complexitiy of identity for boys-men raised by lesbian mothers. Mothers must learn to let go. ----Acknowledges the problem of exclusion of boys in radfem circles
-Institutionalized rejection of difference renders outsiders as surplus people.

Objectionable stuff:
-White-Father / Black inner mother dichotomy. Subconscious pagan argument of "we remember our old ways"
-Being into Kwanzaa (while it's Africanist nonsense that has no relation to the historical roots of the descendants of victims of the slave trade in the US)
Romanticization of some African notions of marriage that challenge the monogamic-heterosexual paradigm.
-Hasn't spoken much of ableism as a barrier that women face.
-Still supports abortion
-Assumes lesbians will still have children, which is odd for a radfem, to say the least.
-Use of rhetoric of power
-Atheism, but that's pretty common for a radfem, at least it shows to be equally disgusted by all religious manifestation and not selective.
-The Mary Daly incident. As it is known, this book features the open letter to Mary Daly on the wrong assumptions of Gyn/Ecology. Not only did Daly apologize in four months, but even accepted reuniting with her to talk about it, and reocgnized her limitations when talking about female black representations of the divine and Lorde still acted like Daly had not answered. (https://feminismandreligion.com/2011/10/05/mary-dalys-letter-to-audre-lorde)

Other interesting things
-Her interview with Adrienne Rich and the importance of her relationship with her mother, poetry, and teaching
-Her talk about Malcom X, even though I didn't find myself agreeing with all of it

souplover2001's review against another edition

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challenging emotional hopeful informative inspiring reflective medium-paced

5.0

“we are women making contact within ourselves and with each other across the restrictions of a printed page, bent upon the use of our own/one another’s knowledges.” → a great summary of how this book made me feel

i am going to be thinking about this book for the rest of my life. i will write a more cohesive review later on – it is only right that i share my thoughts on audre lorde’s work, as she has so kindly and reverently shared her thoughts with me – but i am in awe of how much i enjoyed this book, lorde’s writing style, and the stories she had to share. learned a lot but also found so many thoughts and feelings that i’ve previously had articulated in ways that i would have never been able to communicate. it almost feels a little trivial to mention which essays were my favourite since i think they're all worth reading but i will be going back to the transformation of silence into language and action, uses of the erotic, the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house, age, race, class, and sex: women redefining difference, the uses of anger, and eye to eye quite often! almost every page is annotated with my own thoughts, “!!!!”, or tabs so i can readily revisit certain passages and quotes. a must read!!!!!!!!

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apl2's review against another edition

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challenging reflective slow-paced

5.0

taratuulikki's review against another edition

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5.0

Tragically, everything written in this book is still, decades later, timely, relevant, revelatory, necessary. Still soaking in the power of poetry, words, and how they are not—not—a luxury. And now I dream and write and work for a liberated and erotic world. Thank you, Audre Lorde.

Ps. Has Esther Perel read Audre Lorde? If Perel has, I hope she has given Lorde credit for Lorde’s definition of the erotic.

annelives's review against another edition

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5.0

Essential for your education if you're truly trying to understand and embrace intersectionality in feminism.