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Q&A with Writer Tiffany Bluhm

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Courtesy of Tiffany Bluhm

Courtesy of Tiffany Bluhm

Her drive to help others started shortly after graduating college. She worked with at-risk youth in the United Kingdom for three years.

Then, she served as an outreach pastor at a church, where she engaged with people experiencing homelessness, those living with AIDS, and women. She also created the outreach program Esteem for women in the sex industry and assisted in the development of the FBI Innocence Lost Task Force, and more.

After seven years of church ministry, she began writing full time and started Sip and Savor, a women’s ministry in the Seattle area centered around fine food and wine.

Bluhm is now the author of three books, the co-host of the Why Tho podcast, and a public speaker. She also is a part of South Sound magazine’s 2017 Women to Watch.

Bluhm recently published her third book, Prey Tell: Why We Silence Women Who Tell the Truth and How Everyone Can Speak Up in March. We caught up with Bluhm to learn more about it.

Tell us about your new book.

Prey Tell addresses power imbalances between men and women in every sector of society — education, business, politics, sports, and religious institutions — and provides a history of how power has been abused at women’s expense, why we tend to believe the narrative of those who hold power over those who don’t, and why it’s necessary we address cultural norms that silence women and uphold androcentric systems.

What inspired you to write it?

I witnessed the societal, financial, and professional ramifications so many women have faced as they spoke truth to power. Women such as Chanel Miller, Monica Lewinsky, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and even Anita Hill were seen as troublemakers and out to ruin good men, rather than women with an unpopular truth that was countercultural to the persona powerful men had built. Throughout history, a victim’s narrative has largely been shaped by those who are looking to defend themselves from accusations. (For example: Bill Clinton, R. Kelly, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby.) Since the beginning of the #metoo movement in 2017, there has been a growing consciousness around power dynamics, yet so many fail to see that an abuse of power that penalizes women starts as small and subtle imbalances that exploit a woman’s time, reputation, finances, and body.

Why was the book important for you to write?

My work is at the intersection of justice, women, and faith, and this book was an overflow of that passion; a desire to shift thinking from an ingrained propensity to blame women for the harm they suffer, to instead hold abusers of power accountable for their actions in order to architect just and equal spaces for all. We are quick to defend those who harm others if they’ve been benevolent, kind, or generous to us, at a distance or in our real lives, but we must grapple with the understanding that even good people are capable of egregious acts. Thus far, the onus has been on women to escape the abuse of power rather than insist on men behaving justly, and we must do better. Lastly, it’s not the responsibility of the victim to stand for justice, but it is, in fact, everyone’s responsibility to push for justice. All of us have a moral and ethical responsibility to speak up when women are silenced, even if we personally benefit from those who abuse their power.

Tell us about your process in writing this book. What were some of the challenges?

I spent about six months researching modern and biblical history to provide as much context as possible to popular stories we’ve heard about household names who committed heinous acts against women. The majority of my study zeroed in on accounts from the last 100 years, and how race, physical size, class, immigration status, religious affiliation, and stereotypes have determined who we listen to and who we do not.

The greatest challenge was finishing my manuscript toward the beginning of quarantine. With two kids at home, it wasn’t easy to finish writing, let alone edit such research-heavy work.

What’s been the most rewarding about writing this book?

I’ve been humbled by women who’ve sent me emails sharing that Prey Tell gave them vernacular to describe their past experiences and provided them with vision of how to move forward and operate with dignity and respect. Many women believe that to hold any agency or power, they must please at all costs those who’ve opened doors for them, even if they’ve been harmed in the process. Discovering there is a way forward that doesn’t require subjugation or silence — well, that’s what every woman deserves.

To learn more about Bluhm, her work, or to listen to her podcast, visit tiffanybluhm.com.