UPDATE. I HAVE RECENTLY BEEN DIRECTED TO A SERIES OF BOOKS THAT MS. RICH HAS COAUTHORED ABOUT THE SINGULAR INCLUSION OF BIOLOGICALLY-BORN WOMEN IN THE FEMINIST MOVEMENT. SHE HAS FOUGHT (AND IS APPARENTLY STILL FIGHTING) THE TRANSGENDER POPULATION, AS SHE IS OPPOSED TO THEIR VOICE IN THE REALM OF FEMINIST JUSTICE. I CANNOT SUPPORT SUCH HATRED -- ESPECIALLY FROM SOMEONE WHO NEGATES ALL HER WORK BY PUSHING FOR FAIRNESS ON THE ONE HAND, BUT THEN SELECTING ONLY CERTAIN PEOPLE ON THE OTHER. IT IS SHOCKING AND GROSS TO ME. AND REALLY, SHE GOES AGAINST REAL FEMINISTS WHO AGREE THAT A HATRED OF MEN (AND SHE CLEARLY BELIEVES THAT MTF'S ARE MEN, EVEN IF THEY DO NOT IDENTIFY AS SUCH) IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. WE ALL LIVE IN THIS WORLD TOGETHER -- CATERING TO ONLY ONE SEGMENT DOES NOTHING FOR THE HOLISTIC FIGHT. PLEASE READ THE COMMENTS ATTACHED TO THIS POST TO HEAR THE WORDS OF READERS WHO DISAGREED (AND SHOULD HAVE). THANK YOU. PLEASE SEND ANY INFORMATION ABOUT TRANSPHOBIA TO ME AT BONNIESCHINDLER@YAHOO.COM
Last night I went to see the famed feminist poet Adrienne Rich speak on Columbia’s campus. The room was packed – people sat cross-legged on the radiator against the wall; made spots for themselves in the middle of the stairs, and stood at the doorway to hear her speak.
She never stood up, as she is nearing her 77th year on this Earth; and she never explained her poems – requesting that we decipher its meaning on our own…that they should speak for themselves.
Her readings were beautiful. I am particularly drawn to her artisan expressions of love, war, hate, fear and beauty because of her history.
Ms. Rich spent 20 years in a relationship with her husband until one day he committed suicide. Thrown in to a different world, she began standing with the feminist movement and understanding who she was as a person; she came out as a lesbian, and she continued to make social justice appropriations. She has won numerous awards, and I believe the person introducing her last night said that she has over 400,000 pieces of paper boasting her works.
Particularly, she has written about the idea of compulsory heterosexualism, and the lesbian experience. However, she did not speak much of this last night – even though Ms. Rich did open up the evening with a poem about the importance of finding one’s home; questioning whether or not it is the journey, or if it is the actual place to finally lay one’s head, that is most important.
Pulling out my trusty feminism papers from undergrad, I located notes I wrote about Adrienne Rich, and thought I would share:
• Women are supposedly the earliest sources for emotional bondage to children, but why, then, do women constantly redirect their search for love and tenderness in men. Meaning, if women are supposedly natural caregivers, then why do we need to be reminded of ourselves by our patriarchs?
• Adrienne Rich believes that if more men would take on the role of mothering, less hype would be around the issue of mothers (women) and children.
• She identifies the characteristics of male power:
- To deny women their own sexuality – i.e. restrictions against
orgasms, masturbating, destruction of literature or other that
include sex or lesbianism
- Force male sexuality upon them – meaning rape, incest, creating
socialization of women in order to increase male sex drive,
advertising, pornographic depictions, etc
- To command or exploit women’s labor to control produce, marrying or
having children but not giving an income;segregation of women paid
in employment; male control of abortion, contraception, etc., and
pimping out women as sex workers.
- Seizure of children from lesbian homes (or maybe not allowing lesbian
couples to adopt); genital mutilation
- To confine them physically and prevent their movement by means of
rape or terrorism, foot binding, the veil, sexual harassment, etc
- Use women as objects in male transactions – the use of women as
gifts, pimping, arraigned marriages, call girls, cocktail waitresses
required to dress fro male titillation, prostitutes.
- Cramp women’s creativeness – witch persecutions, campaigns against
midwives; restriction of female self-fulfillment to marriage and
- To withhold from them large areas of the society’s knowledge and
cultural attainments – non-education of females, sex-role tracking
which deflects women in science, technology, and other “masculine”
• Adrienne Rich points out that all women are part of the lesbian continuum because women are handled by other women (mothers, grandmothers, caregivers, etc), and they have children...a constant continuum of womanhood, bonding.
• Many women, she says, live separate lives with other women outside of their marriages.
• We should not think of the heterosexual lifestyle as normal, but the view has actually been imposed on us by men. Heterosexuality has been forcibly and subliminally imposed on women.
• Just because women are in heterosexual relationships does not always mean that they prefer heterosexual relationships – they marry men for economical reasons; to avoid social ostracism; to do what is expected of women.
• If a relationship is based on a double life (meaning you get beat by your man, but you still love him), then she says that sex is then equated with attention from the male, who is charismatic, though brutal, infantile; and that women are often put in to a place where women make one another’s life endurable…helping to care for the shame, pain, give advice, etc.
• That being said, Adrienne Rich always stressed that being a lesbian does not stem from a hatred of men – however it was made a negative word by the patriarch.