Should we #CancelRich?

Here, we each present our take on if Rich’s poetry is still pushing for societal progress or if it is leaving people behind.

I think that Adrienne Rich’s work should be canceled. Back in her period, she was highly influential in the women’s rights movement, and her work had a lot of impact on society, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it still carries the same weight today. We’re now in the 21st century, where women have been granted many more rights and are now in a new era of issues to fight for. One of these issues is regarding transgender women and their rights in society- the right to transition, the right to live, and the right to be seen and respected as women. their existence simply didn’t fit Rich’s ideas of feminism. Rich was a refuser of ‘male energy’- she felt as though male energy and patriarchy were unnecessary and even counteractive to the feminist movement (Soules, 21). Unfortunately, she extended this view to trans people, and believed that trans women were “deviant men who use female bodies to enter female spaces” (Mukhopadhyay, par. 2). In today’s society, this falls into something called TERF rhetoric- trans-exclusionary radical feminism. This is the belief that trans people are not ‘real’ and harm feminist ideals. This harmful notion that Rich had is the reason I want to cancel her. While she was important in her time, her views are outdated and highly harmful to trans women and the new feminist movement. 🙂

-TJ #CancelRich

3 Comments on “Should we #CancelRich?

  1. Adrienne Rich was an influential poet and feminist and she championed women’s rights during a period where oppression and abuse were prevalent. She aimed to achieve gender equality and showcased the strength of women not only in poetry but also in championing equality. In the contemporary world, Rich’s ideals are still relevant. Her work should be promoted so many people can learn about her ideals because women still get oppressed in the workplace and at home. Her ideas can be used to foster equal pay and promotions for women and champion an end to domestic abuse.

    -Sarah Alharthi

  2. I like Rich because she was one of the few feminist poets back in her time. Although, compared to now, her poems can be viewed as outdated and, to a degree, even extreme. But, she fought for women’s rights in her own way because in her time women had no where near as many rights as they do in 2021.

    -Brandon Hallahan

  3. While I think Brandon and Sarah each made strong arguments for the continued value of Rich’s work, I feel that TJ’s point about how her feminist-ideology was not supportive of our friends in the Trans community is more important than what she used to argue for.

    Through her life, her perspective evolved to become more radical in support of women liberation. As she is no longer with us, her body of work can no longer continue to evolve.

    Her work was valuable and revolutionary in their historical context but now we need to advance beyond the past and become more radical in our own ways.

    I’ll conclude with a passage from the titular poem, Diving into the Wreck: “We circle silently /about the wreck /we dive into the hold. /I am she: I am he” I’d hope that today Rich could change her view and add to her poem, “I am them.”

    -Zach Emmons

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