Of woman born : motherhood as experience and institution

by Adrienne Cecile Rich

Paper Book, 1976


In Of Woman Born, originally published in 1976, influential poet and feminist Adrienne Rich examines the patriarchic systems and political institutions that define motherhood. Exploring her own experience?as a woman, a poet, a feminist, and a mother?she finds the act of mothering to be both determined by and distinct from the institution of motherhood as it is imposed on all women everywhere. A ?powerful blend of research, theory, and self-reflection? (Sandra M. Gilbert, Paris Review), Of Woman Born revolutionized how women thought about motherhood and their own liberation. With a stirring new foreword from National Book Critics Circle Award?winning writer Eula Biss, the book resounds with as much wisdom and insight today as when it was first written.… (more)



Call number



New York : Bantam Books, 1977, c1976.

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
Show More
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.
Show Less
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
Show More
came before us.
Show Less
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
Show More
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".
Show Less
LibraryThing member mahallett
this had many interesting things but nearly every page had notes to read. I just think it was too long--298. because of all this stuff I decided not to have a child in my 20s. I am now 74.


Original publication date



0553113658 / 9780553113655
Page: 0.5469 seconds