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Language of Our Lineage

Language of Our Lineage

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Published by Megan Lent

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Published by: Megan Lent on Dec 04, 2013
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And We Go On: The Continuation of a Literary Lineage Through Modern Young Female Authors
“A book of myths / in which / our names do not appear.”-
Adrienne Rich
According to Adrienne Rich’s essay Writing as Re!"ision#$ Re!%ision&the act of loo'ing (ac'# of seeing )ith fresh eyes# of entering an old te*t from a ne) critical direction&is for us more than a cha+ter in cultural history: it is an act of sur%i%al,$ On another occasion# Audre Lorde also )rote that )riting is a means of sur%i%al for )omen, They s+o'e se+arately#  (ut mo%ed (y the same s+irit# (oth introducing a ne) frame)or' for %ie)ing the female literary tradition: not as something that e*ists in inferiority to men&some insignificant collection of furti%e )ritings (uilt into a to)er of incom+lete e*+ression&(ut as a full lineage, Today# this lineage continues# as young female )riters ha%e ada+ted +u(lic s+aces -namely# the internet. as a means of transmitting stories and emotions that )ould in the +ast ha%e (een delegated to +ri%ate s+aces, Traditionally# )omen )riters ha%e e*+ressed themsel%es %ia diaries# letters# and other  +ri%ate )or's, / dedicated +oems to Anne Fran' and 0mily 1ic'inson +artially out of res+ect to this tradition -and +artially (ecause / feel a dee+ connection to each# and an interest in their %ery different forms of isolation.# (ut there are thousands of diaries and +ri%ate collections# only some of them +u(lished, 0%en female authors )ho ha%e )ritten for +u(lic consum+tion ha%e tended to e*ist )ithin a conte*t (uilt (y men, 2ane Austen stayed in the shado)s# a++roaching male!a++ro%ed su(3ects li'e marriage and sisterhood -a to+ic later em(raced (y Louisa May Alcott., 4he im(ued a le%el of sarcasm into her )or'# sure# (ut she functioned as a male fantasy of the female )riter: sim+le in content# full of flo)ery language and moral +roselyti5ing, The dese*uali5ed# ultra!femini5ed )oman is reminiscent of the Catholic Church6s cele(ration of
 
female saints such as Catherine of 4iena# )hose celi(acy and anore*ic aestheticism (ought her a  +lace in the hea%ens, That said# )e must (e careful not to denigrate )riters li'e Austen 3ust for their su(3ect matter: to declare that traditionally female!coded to+ics are (ad$ is to declare that to (e feminine is (ad,$ The issue is that# for many years# the only )omen )ho could achie%e +u(lic attention )ere those )ho clung solely to the female!coded su(3ects, A )oman (roaching something li'e moral am(iguity )ould (e an encroachment on male territory# and treated )ith something )orse than criticism: it )ould (e as if her )ords ne%er e*isted# as they )ould ne%er (e  +u(lished, / )ish not to trace the +rogression of female authordom# as that’s treaded ground, What / )ould +refer to do no) is to loo' at ho) su(3ects that e*ist in all )omen’s diaries# letters# and )his+erings ha%e recently ceased to (e ta(oo,Audre Lorde )rote in
Uses of the Erotic
 that# /n order to (e utili5ed# our erotic feelings must (e recogni5ed, The need for sharing dee+ feeling is a human need,$ For Lorde# the erotic is not merely a se*ual term# (ut something that lies in a dee+ly female and s+iritual +lane# firmly rooted in the +o)er of our une*+ressed or unrecogni5ed feeling,$ The erotic +ro%ides +o)er from sharing and from feeling# +articularly from sharing and feeling 3oy, /t’s a sensual e*+erience# not 3ust a se*ual one7 to (e a )oman and to (e truly 3oyful# to (e dancing and singing and laughing freely# is a sla+ in the face of the +atriarchy, We are told to (e 8uiet and demure7 e%en a century and a half of feminism hasn’t sto++ed )omen from feeling the societal +ressure to al)ays s+ea' a little more softly# to (e a little smaller# to dress a little less )ildly, When )e counter these +ressures&)hen )e scream# )ithout fear of (eing called hysterical7 )hen )e )ear our hair long# )ithout fear of (eing called dirty7 )hen )e dress for each other# )ithout fear of  (eing called slutty or +rudish or insane&)e are claiming the +o)er of the erotic,

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