Of woman born : motherhood as experience and institution

by Adrienne Cecile Rich

Paperback, 1977



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Bantam Books (Mm) (1977), Paperback


The experience is her own—as a woman, a poet, a feminist, and a mother—but it is an experience determined by the institution, imposed on all women everywhere. She draws on personal materials, history, research, and literature to create a document of universal importance.

User reviews

LibraryThing member freddlerabbit
It can sometimes be jarring to read books dating back 30 years or more written by feminists (radical or otherwise); although we still have a long way to go, times have indeed changed. And there were moments of this in "Of Woman Born" - Rich's description of how the wives of academic husbands behaved and felt didn't ring true to someone of my generation. But I also know that that very scene is still true for many women today, just not usually those in that demographic; and we forget this at our peril.

This book is a sociological analysis of motherhood - the institution - an examination across several cultures (though mostly those leading to American), invoking myth, psychology, feminist theory, Marxism and more. At times, Rich's anger was uncomfortable - I don't feel it in the same way myself. But mostly, it was galvanizing. I came out of the book realizing how very much the institution is culturally determined and how much it would be possible to change - and how much better we would all be if we did change it. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to think about parenthood, of either sex, or to understand the role of parenthood and mothering in our culture. If you are honest, it will make you uncomfortable - but I think that's a good thing.
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LibraryThing member labwriter
This book is a classic that needs to be understood within the context of the time it was written. Yes, things have changed--duh. One reason women are living different lives in 2010 than they were in 1970 is because of people like Adrienne Rich. "We stand on the shoulders of giants"--of those who came before us.
LibraryThing member jarvenpa
Stunning work. It raged into the world with a horrible and beautiful truth. I read it first as I was nursing my firstborn, in the 70's. Fearful territory. She may have been the first to look with clarity at the ambivalence of motherhood, coming from her own perspective as a good mother and wife of the 1950's, bearing three sons in something like 6 years, plunging into the roughening waters of feminist consciousness, coming out as a lesbian. As to the last, I have always cherished her retort to the interviewer who asked what her sons thought of her lesbianism. Said Adrienne "well, I guess you'll have to ask them".… (more)


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Physical description

7 inches


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