Feminism in Adrienne Rich's Poetry

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Adrienne Rich's poetry serves a prophetic function by articulating the history and ideals of the feminist struggle. By recalling the ancient chthonic mysteries of blood and birth, by reconnecting daughters with their mothers, by drawing parallels between women today and their historical counterparts, and by envisioning the women of the future who will emerge from the feminist struggle, her poetry celebrates women's strength and possibilities. Elaborating her vision, Rich brings a nurturing ethos to her analysis of social priorities: I simply believe that human society is capable of meeting the fundamental needs of all human beings: we can give them a minimum standard of living, we can give them an education, we can create an environment which is more healthy to live in, and we can give people free medical care. We can provide these things for everybody in the society. We're not doing it, and I don't think there is any male system that is going to do that. ( TCWM) Like Virginia Woolf, who asked, "Where in short is it leading, this procession of the sons of educated men?," 1 Rich finds that "masculine ideologies are the creation of masculine subjectivity; they are neither objective, nor value-free, nor inclusively 'human"' ( LSS, 207), and she regards feminism as a corrective to distortions of patriarchal ideologies. In contrast to the monotheistic Judeo-Christian traditions, Rich defines feminism as a pluralistic ethos that cuts across divisions of race, caste, and nationality: If we conceive of feminism . . . as an ethics, a methodology, a more complex way of thinking about, thus more responsibly acting upon, the conditions of human life, we need a self-knowledge which can only develop through a steady, passionate ... ... middle of paper ... ...t creative thinking is characterized by this type of nonpolarized perception. - See Carolyn Heilbrun, Toward a Recognition of Androgyny ( New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1973), for an extended discussion of androgynous behavior. Also see the special issue devoted to the topic of androgyny in Women's Studies, vol. 2 ( 1974). - Thomas Dudley, "Letter to the Countess of Lincoln," in Alexander Young, ed., Chronicles of the First Planters of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay ( Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1846), 332. - Adrienne Rich, "Racism within Feminism," speech for the Amherst College Colloquium on Sex, Race, and Class, Amherst, Massachusetts, April 24, 1980. - Carol Gilligan, In A Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development ( Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 19
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