Wise Women Council
OSCLG honors its members who have made significant contributions to the organization and makes available to the membership their experiences as leaders, scholars, and mentors.
Wise Women Council Members
“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.— Shug Avery in The Color Purple
Standing on the shoulders of Wise Women on this council is an honor—these are academic mothers and other mothers who helped me along the way. And occasionally when I share insight in a teaching or mentoring moment and say something I think ‘profound’, I catch myself thinking, “wow! guess I have been paying attention.” As a Black woman I find it hard not to notice how identities matter and OSCLG is where I find support for better understanding those lived experiences. OSCLG is connection and community, a home and a haven—and where good chocolate is a sacrament!
Bren Ortega Murphy
Like so many of the OSCLG Wise Women, I owe a great deal of my professional and personal development to my participation with this wonderful organization. Over many years, both the annual conference and my relationship with its members has expanded and deepened my understanding of gendered communication as well as what I might be able to contribute to that ongoing conversation. The conference has the advantages of being both small and large, both welcoming and discerning. The commitment to feminism is unabashed but also not “competitive.” No one is trying to prove they are smarter or more feminist than you. On the other hand, they are honest in their questions and generous with their visions. It is a good place to invite wisdom.
The power of OSCLG, for me, is in the personal and professional connections that we make here, the diverse voices and perspectives reflected here, the new ways of seeing and knowing that we craft here. I am honored and humbled to be part of the Wise Women Council. There was a time I would not have felt ready to take this role. I now see this honor as an opportunity to welcome that young woman or man in the back of the room who, like me at my first conference, isn’t sure she or he belongs.
What does it means to be designated a “Wise” woman — What assumptions about knowledge, truth, and relationships does this entail? What expectations attend it? What practices and identities-in-relation might it accommodate? How best might we enact it? Ongoing and open-ended, such questions must be addressed communally and performatively rather than in statements and criteria. For me, OSCLG creates a space for trying out various womentoring engagements and for striving to realize “wiseness” together, as scholars, as colleagues, as mutual learners and teachers.
Wisdom is something that I search for, but certainly not something that I believe I have yet attained. I would agree that I might be more experienced than some younger people, at least in some narrow paths of life. I try to continually remind myself to take advantage of opportunities that may help me to increase my experience, and perhaps gain greater wisdom. OSCLG has allowed me to do that….primarily through developing relationships with women who are very wise.
I cherish the welcome that OSCLG gave me many years ago as an English language specialist sneaking into a communication conference. OSCLG did not ask me to choose between my many selves or to behave as if our cultural polarities were relevant to my life: feminine/masculine, teacher/scholar, professional/personal, activist/mother, secular/religious, pro-choice/pro-life, single/partnered, gay/straight, etc. Rather, I could be many selves, foregrounding and backgrounding relevant identities depending on context. I could work, with others, toward building a multi-leveled cultural garden (see MJ Hardman’s work), not live in a single or even dual crop field. I believe our collective Wise Women’s mission is to affirm, repair, and work toward sustainability of the complex and diverse worlds we live in and to pass on our “wisdom.”
If It wasn’t for OSCLG, I couldn’t have done much of what I have been able to do. It isn’t simply the research connections, it is the friendship, love, and ethic of giving and being there for others that I and so many others experience through OSCLG. I don’t feel particularly “wise” as I muddle through things. But I hope I have contributed to the collective wisdom and inspiration that is OSCLG.
I see myself as seeking wisdom, not as having attained it. Women’s wisdom grows out of intellect, body, and soul. Years and experience alone brings some sense of wisdom and it takes reflection as well as a willingness to engage with one’s own authority to develop it. I’m not there yet, but hope I am on my way.
It’s almost impossible for me to imagine a career that did not include the supportive environment of OSCLG conventions. Similarly, my personal friendships have been deepened and enriched by the wonderful people who consider OSCLG their scholarly home. OSCLG has been the foundation for many of my long-standing friendships and scholarly collaborations. I am more than grateful and hopeful that, as a Wise Woman, I can give back to the organization that has given so much to me.
In the past, much of my activism has been based on anger, at conditions that I thought “others” had created. Now, I think that the anger approach is mostly the way toward more separation. Wonderful OSCLG friends and presentations encourage discussions about how best to work with many viewpoints and many people for social justice. I’m trying to wear my identifications more loosely, and to examine my motives more closely. That’s the intent. The practice… Ha! (I’m working on it.)
The Wise Women of OSCLG have given me personal friendship, professional support, intellectual enlightenment and courage to be a strong advocate, as well as much fun, laughter, wine and chocolate. My relationship with my Wise Women colleagues spans 20 – 35 years and I am honored and deeply grateful to be a part of such collective wisdom.
Linda A. M. Perry, Professor Emirita at the University of San Diego, was one of the original members of OSCLG’s Wise Women’s Council, and an early OSCLG President who hosted two of its annual conferences, 1988 and 2001. She died in November of 2012, at her home in the company of her loving family. The wise women memorialized her in a ceremony at the 2013 OSCLG Conference in Houghton, Michigan. Those wishing to honor the memory of Linda Perry can contribute to a Scholarship Memorial fund that has been established in her name at the University of San Diego (contact Valeria Attisha, Director of Development at firstname.lastname@example.org).
What wise words can I offer that aren’t cliched? or repetitive? or begging for context? Perhaps that’s one thing. The stretch of half a lifetime shows how long is our journey toward a fair, just and equitable world, and yet in context one lifetime is quite brief. How does one muster both patience and persistence? Inspiring and encouraging colleagues. Pioneers who led the way. We can draw on Robert Frost’s words about roads in the woods. On the beer commercial exhorting us to grab for the gusto. On the 12-step mantra: Plan ahead, but LIVE today. And I can add some Burma Shave signs that graced my path; formed into a crude haiku:Look around. Listen--deeply. Learn. Laugh. Lead--when youmust. And only then.