Questions on Belenky


Suggestions for group leaders:


Basic Questions:

1.  If you know any "silent women," please share something about her experience.

2.  How does Belenky's text relate to our previous readings, particularly Lakoff & Johnson and Emerson?

3.  Does not talking in class mean that one is a "silent woman"?

4.  What does Belenky mean by "representational thought"?

5.  What stands out for you in this text and why?

6.  What does Belenky say about language?


Questions from Professor Jennifer Solomon's handout:

6.  Does the experience of silence only apply to women?  In what situations might men feel silenced?

7.  [Belenky] suggests that the experience of silence represents a "denial of self."  The subjects described...were women from social service agencies[,] not college students.  In what ways might college students feel silenced?  What part of the self is silenced or denied?

8.  Where, how[,] and why might people feel "silenced" today?  What aspects of the self are denied?

9.  The reading states that the women perceived words "as weapons" [page 98].  Describe examples of how words are used as weapons.  What is the target of the weapons?  For example, what characteristics of a person might be targeted?  What part of the self might be targeted?

10.  Does [the silent woman model] apply today?  If not, why?  Does it apply to men as well as women?


Information on Women's Ways of Knowing:

by Mary Belenky, Blythe Clinchy, Nancy Goldberger, Jill Tarule

The Five Stages of Knowing

  1. Silence: total dependence on whims of external authority
  2. Received Knowledge: receive and reproduce knowledge
  3. Subjective Knowledge: truth and knowledge are conceived of as personal, private, and intuited
  4. Procedural Knowledge: rely on objective procedures for obtaining and communicating knowledge
  5. Constructed Knowledge: view all knowledge as contextual; value subjective and objective strategies


This document also lists the characteristics of the five stages.

Can you now take your definition of feminism a step further? 

Most important of all, how do you understand your "self" or your "human condition" better as a result of reading Belenky?