Magi Gibson at the Forth Valley Feminist Women’s Festival 2023

Magi Gibson is a Scottish poet and feminist, living in Glasgow, author of Wild Women of a Certain Age. Along with Jenny Lindsay, Magi is one of two female cancelled poets in Scotland who has been speaking out about self-ID. She spoke about women’s poetry of dissent, witness, and protest at Forth Valley Feminist’s 2023 Women’s Festival.

In recent years, women have been censored and cancelled for speaking out against self-ID, but this is just one example of a larger problem of suppressing women’s voices, which stretches back to ancient Greece and Rome.

Salma, an Indian poet, was expelled from school after she began menstruating. Later, her husband threatened to throw acid in her face if she continued to write poetry. Despite the threats, she kept writing, and even hugged her baby boy to keep her husband from throwing acid on her while she slept.

The renowned classicist Mary Beard reminds us that in ancient Greece and Rome, women’s voices were only meant to be heard in the home, and women were to be as guarded of their voices in public as they were of their bodies. The Scold’s Bridle, a punishment tool that encaged and physically silenced women, was first documented in Scotland nearly 500 years ago. This is our inheritance. Women’s voices are silenced in modern society through cancellations, no-platforming, job losses, and even physical violence.

Women’s bodies and experiences have long been taboo in poetry and society as a whole. Even when women calmly talk about their own bodies, they are frequently accused of being aggressive or talking too much. The suppression of the language of the female body is most visible in the censorship of vulva art in women’s art groups, which is censored not for Calvinistic reasons, but “out of respect for trans sisters.”

For centuries, women’s voices, bodies, and experiences have been silenced, and while the censorship of female poets in Scotland is only one example of a larger problem, it is one that must be addressed. Women’s rights, language, and bodies are all under attack, and we can fight back and reclaim our space through poetry and speaking out. Magi reminds us that poetry is a form of resistance, and as Audre Lorde says, “your silence will not protect you.”

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