Saturday, June 12, 2010
As Adrienne Rich writes in “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-vision, “She goes to poetry looking for her way of being in the world, she comes up against something that negates everything she is about, she meets the image of Woman in books written by men” (21). We seem to find women, or female archetypes, who are either perpetually getting into trouble like Pandora, or Cinderella, who passively awaits her destiny.
Or we find the deeply embedded archetypes in Judeo-Christian tradition, where powerful women are punished or even reviled; Lilith, Eve and Mary Magdalene. We grew up straightjacketed by these stories, their content was never questioned; it was as axiomatic, as simple and indisputable as a mathematical equation. Many of us came of age with the notion of “woman” as a flawed creature of uncontrollable desires, whose actions seemed to frequently bring doom and destruction to herself and even those around her.
However, we are allowed to be pretty, we are allowed to be objects, put upon a pedestal, and admired. We are allowed to be draped in dresses, perfumed and made-up--- or we are shorn of our sexuality like Eve, the Virgin Mother. We, women, can’t emulate Eve, We can’t define ourselves by her, she exists outside the framework of our knowable experience. Real women give birth, but the reproductive function is inseparable from our sexuality and our bodies. Yet, these are our contemporary myths, our feminine archetypes--- our essential woman; object, not subject.