From the Perception of Opinion as a Privilege, to the Choice of an Abstaining Silence: The Absent Voice of Women in Israeli Public Discourse
Using one's voice as a means of expressing an opinion and communicating with others signifies an individual's readiness to participate in public life. The ability to use one's voice depends on the existence of a public sphere which allows open and free discourse. However, even in a democratic country like Israel, the gender aspect plays a significant role in the ability to participate in public discourse, even among women who have already discovered their voices and are active in the public sphere.The results of a qualitative study of 31 Israeli activists show that freedom of expression is a necessary but insufficient condition for participation in public discourse. Instead, the ability to use voice is often perceived as an over-privilege that might, in some cases, also demand a high cost. The study shows that there is a gap between the perception of the Israeli public sphere as a place which is officially open to a variety of voices, and the limited sense of freedom and security women feel in regard to using their voices in public.