So I’m taking a Women’s Studies class this quarter, which I really need. For too long I’ve been skirting around the edge of Feminist Theory, without ever diving in.
So today I read my first article, “Toward a Woman-Centered University,” by Adrienne Rich in 1973. I’ll share a few portions of the article that resonated with me, though I wish I could share all as I find it highly relevant to my daily life as a mother-academic. This article builds on Virginia Woolf’s notion of “A Room of Her Own” and “Three Guineas” to propose a model for a woman-friendly college. I would add that the changes that Rich proposes would be more human-friendly and parent-friendly (not just for women, IMO).
It is difficult to imagine, unless one has lived it, the personal division, endless improvising, and creative and intellectual holding back that for most women accompany the attempt to combine the emotional and physical demands of parenthood and the challenges of work.
As I write this I am sitting in the midst of laundry that needs folding, dishes that need washing, and 2 kids who are working on a rock-polishing project. While I love my life and I am thrilled by the creative tensions that occur in the process of ‘improvising’ my life, it is so not easy and sometimes I wonder if I am wasting my academic pursuits because I can’t devote full-time attention to them.
Later in her article she quotes Susan Sontag (another favorite author of mine):
The first responsibility of a ‘liberated’ woman is to lead the fullest, freest, and most imaginative life she can. The second responsibility is her solidarity with other women. She may live and work and make love with men. But she has no right to represent her situation as simpler, or less suspect, or less full of compromises than it really is. Her good relations with men must not be bought at the price of betraying her sisters.
Wow, there is a lot of meat in the quotation. I love the challenge that Sontag proposes–of living life as fully and imaginatively as possible. Yes, I have taken up that gauntlet. I’m not sure, though, that I have been completely honest about the challenges and compromises that I face in my academic path. Perhaps this is because I don’t discuss my academic path much at all on my blog? Perhaps it is just too raw? Perhaps my experience doesn’t involve such grand compromises because earlier women have paved the path for me to follow? I’ll continue to ruminate on these questions as I approach my later readings.