Hey Change Maker! My guest this week is Tiffany Bluhm, speaker, podcaster, and author of the book Prey Tell: Why We Silence Women Who Tell the Truth and How Everyone Can Speak Up.
We begin the episode with a bit of background about Tiffany. Tiffany is a writer, speaker, and podcaster. She has a strong passion for shifting and shaping culture to uplift the kingdom of God through spoken word. In my first question to Tiffany, I ask her why she has a heart for marginalized people. Tiffany is an immigrant East Indian woman who grew up in a white community and didn’t meet another person of color until middle school. As she states, “I’m passionate about marginalized people because I am one.” She’s seen firsthand how marginalized people are often second to others – their voices are silenced and their specific lived experiences are overlooked. Tiffany believes that we can all be a part of the answer when we work together. When we listen to the marginalized, we are walking in the way of Jesus.
Next, I ask Tiffany why those in power should care about marginalized people. Tiffany responds that as a follower of Jesus, our instinct to crave power and dominance is turned on its head. The invitation into the fullness of life that Jesus offers allows us to spend ourselves on behalf of others, because we’re spending ourselves on behalf of the kingdom. She emphasizes how important it is that powerful people see helping others as valuable and necessary, and that everyone wins when power is moved to a place of equality and equity. It’s critical we believe that sharing power is a beautiful thing.
We then shift to talk about her book, “Prey Tell”, and why she felt called to write it. Tiffany’s book came out of her own experience speaking truth to power and losing more than she ever thought she could in the process. She had to personally grapple with the societal, financial, and professional ramifications after a man abused his power as she spoke truth to power. This experience helped her unearth why we as a culture silence truths that are inconvenient to tell. Tiffany states that it’s not a woman’s resources that will determine her trajectory in life; rather, her success is determined by whether a man will abuse his power at her expense.
Tiffany’s book dives into what happens when we don’t value women as equals. She explains how we live in a society where we demonize the one who speaks up. It’s not the who’s seen man as the abuser of power; rather, it’s the woman who’s seen as vindictive, retaliatory, disgruntled, or trying to take down a good man when she speaks about the abuse of power. As a result, far more often than not, women stay silent as an act of self preservation. However, this silence helps ensure that the perpetrator of power continues their cycle of abuse to more women. We talk about Christine Blasey Ford and her experience testifying in front of the Supreme Court about her sexual assault experience. We also discuss how commonplace it is for assaults to never be reported. The number of false accusations of sexual assault is incredibly low, and this data is only further skewed by the large population of women who never report their assault experiences in the first place.
After that, Tiffany and I discuss bad theology that we need to get rid of when it comes to speaking up about injustice and about empowering women. Tiffany refers to First Samuel 26, which commands us to not cause bodily harm to the Lord’s anointed. However, we have extended this message to priests, pastors, and even politicians, deeming these people untouchable and free from any accusation. Tiffany describes how it’s difficult to not internalize this message, especially if you grew up in an environment where men were in charge. She also speaks about how forgiveness is weaponized: if a woman doesn’t forgive quickly enough, she is harshly judged by society.
We also discuss how white women are helping to hold up the patriarchy, and what we can do to change that. Tiffany explains how white women have a beautiful opportunity to lend their arms to their sisters and walk together so all can have equality. The imbalance of power knows no bounds, but the response is varied depending on if the woman is white, or if she is part of a marginalized group. Tiffany invites white women to consider their proximity to power and asks: what would happen when they speak up on behalf of their sisters? She urges white women to use their voices and their power to speak up for their sisters of color to achieve equality. Tiffany relays to me the “4 L’s” of how we can all help. First, we need to lament; we have to admit that the abuse of power is happening in all spaces. Second, we need to truly listen with compassionate hearts to the women who come to us. Third, we need to learn how these things happen. Finally, we need to lend our strength to the women who need us.
As we wrap up the episode, I ask Tiffany what the response to her book has been so far. She describes how the book has given women the vernacular they need to describe their experiences and give them vision for the future to help spot injustices before they happen and advocate for equitable spaces. Tiffany also discusses how when women are in decision-making places and spaces, we all benefit from a political, societal, and economic perspective. When asked who inspires her and why, Tiffany names Ruth Bader Ginsburg. RBG’s earlier life is particularly fascinating to Tiffany. She talks about how RBG attended law school with a newborn and took notes for her husband when he had cancer in school. When asked how listeners can partner with her to change the world, she responds with, “We can partner when we learn.” She encourages listeners to read her book, subscribe to her newsletter, and follow her on Instagram at @tiffanybluhm.
How Do We Help Survivors?
- The 4 Ls
- Lend Our Strength