Adrienne Rich Quotes

... no woman is really an insider in the institutions fathered by masculine consciousness.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and feminist. Blood, Bread and Poetry, ch. 1 (1986). From a 1979 commencement address delivered at Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts.
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The dialectic between change and continuity is a painful but deeply instructive one, in personal life as in the life of a people. To "see the light" too often has meant rejecting the treasures found in darkness.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and feminist. Blood, Bread and Poetry, ch. 8 (1986). From the Clark Lecture which she delivered at Scripps College in Claremont, California, on February 15, 1983.
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The lie of compulsory female heterosexuality today afflicts not just feminist scholarship, but every profession, every reference work, every curriculum, every organizing attempt, every relationship or conversation over which it hovers. It creates, specifically, a profound falseness, hypocrisy, and hysteria in the heterosexual dialogue, for every heterosexual relationship is lived in the queasy strobe light of that lie. However we choose to identify ourselves, however we find ourselves labeled, it flickers across and distorts our lives.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and lesbian feminist. Blood, Bread and Poetry, ch. 3 (1986). Written in 1980, not long after Rich had begun publicly to acknowledge her lesbianism. She had once been married and was the mother of three sons.
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When those who have the power to name and to socially construct reality choose not to see you or hear you ... when someone with the authority of a teacher, say, describes the world and you are not in it, there is a moment of psychic disequilibrium, as if you looked in the mirror and saw nothing. It takes some strength of soul—and not just individual strength, but collective understanding—to resist this void, this non-being, into which you are thrust, and to stand up, demanding to be seen and heard.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and lesbian feminist. Blood, Bread and Poetry, ch. 13 (1986). From an essay written in 1984.
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... if, as women, we accept a philosophy of history that asserts that women are by definition assimilated into the male universal, that we can understand our past through a male lens—if we are unaware that women even have a history—we live our lives similarly unanchored, drifting in response to a veering wind of myth and bias.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and feminist. Blood, Bread and Poetry, ch. 8 (1986). From the Clark Lecture which she delivered at Scripps College in Claremont, California, on February 15, 1983.
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... there is no way of measuring the damage to a society when a whole texture of humanity is kept from realizing its own power, when the woman architect who might have reinvented our cities sits barely literate in a semilegal sweatshop on the Texas- Mexican border, when women who should be founding colleges must work their entire lives as domestics ...
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and feminist. Blood, Bread and Poetry, ch. 12 (1986). From a lecture given at Scripps College in Claremont, California, on February 15, 1984: the 164th anniversary of Susan B. Anthony's birthday (1820-1906).
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The belief that established science and scholarship—which have so relentlessly excluded women from their making—are "objective" and "value-free" and that feminist studies are "unscholarly," "biased," and "ideological" dies hard. Yet the fact is that all science, and all scholarship, and all art are ideological; there is no neutrality in culture!
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet, essayist, and feminist. Blood, Bread and Poetry, ch. 1 (1986). From a 1979 commencement address delivered at Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts.
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Women's art, though created in solitude, wells up out of community. There is, clearly, both enormous hunger for the work thus being diffused, and an explosion of creative energy, bursting through the coercive choicelessness of the system on whose boundaries we are working.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. lesbian feminist poet and essayist. Book review of Housework, by Joan Larkin (1977).
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Rape is a part of war; but it may be more accurate to say that the capacity for dehumanizing another which so corrodes male sexuality is carried over from sex into war.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet. repr. In On Lies, Secrets, and Silence (1980). "Caryatid," American Poetry Review (Philadelphia, May-June 1973).
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Lesbian existence comprises both the breaking of a taboo and the rejection of a compulsory way of life. It is also a direct or indirect attack on the male right of access to women.
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet. "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence," Blood, Bread and Poetry (1986).
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