Since tomorrow is the 53rd anniversary of Sylvia Plath death (February 11th 1963), I'll use her as a prime example of what I mean. As the gist of Plath's bio is fairly well known to even the general public I'm not going write a big summation on that and instead get right to the point of the matter.
Disquieting Muses based De Chirico's painting says to the mother:
- Day now, night now, at head, side, feet,
They stand their vigil in gowns of stone,
Faces blank as the day I was born,
Their shadows long in the setting sun
That never brightens or goes down.
And this is the kingdom you bore me to,
Mother, mother. But no frown of mine
Will betray the company I keep.
Despite its public broadcast in 1962, Plath's fully female monologue Three Women (particularly the 2nd voice) went nearly unnoticed by feminists:
- SECOND VOICE:
When I first saw it, the small red seep, I did not believe it.
I watched the men walk about me in the office. They were so flat!
There was something about them like cardboard, and now I had caught it,
That flat, flat, flatness from which ideas, destructions,
Bulldozers, guillotines, white chambers of shrieks proceed,
Endlessly proceed--and the cold angels, the abstractions.
- SECOND VOICE:
I have tried to be natural.
I have tried to be blind in love, like other women,
Blind in my bed, with my dear blind sweet one,
Not looking, through the thick dark, for the face of another.
- SECOND VOICE:
And then there were other faces. The faces of nations,
Governments, parliaments, societies,
The faceless faces of important men. It is these men I mind:
They are so jealous of anything that is not flat! They are jealous gods
That would have the whole world flat because they are.
I see the Father conversing with the Son.
Such flatness cannot but be holy.
'Let us make a heaven,' they say.
'Let us flatten and launder the grossness from these souls.'
- SECOND VOICE:
I see myself as a shadow, neither man nor woman,
Neither a woman, happy to be like a man, nor a man
Blunt and flat enough to feel no lack. I feel a lack.
I hold my fingers up, ten white pickets.
See, the darkness is leaking from the cracks.
I cannot contain it. I cannot contain my life. I shall be a heroine of the peripheral.
I shall not be accused by isolate buttons,
Holes in the heels of socks, the white mute faces
Of unanswered letters, coffined in a letter case.
I shall not be accused, I shall not be accused.
Whether it is Plath's Elm allowing herself anger not generally permitted to females:
- Now I break up in pieces that fly about like clubs.
A wind of such violence
Will tolerate no bystanding: I must shriek.
- Come here, sweetie, out of the closet.
Well, what do you think of that?
Naked as paper to start
But in twenty-five years she'll be silver,
In fifty, gold.
A living doll, everywhere you look.
It can sew, it can cook,
It can talk, talk, talk.
It works, there is nothing wrong with it.
You have a hole, it's a poultice.
You have an eye, it's an image.
- Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face
- You peer from the door,
Sad hag. "Every woman’s a whore.
I can’t communicate."
I see your cute decor
Close on you like the fist of a baby
Or an anemone, that sea
Sweetheart, that kleptomaniac.
I am still raw.
I say I may be back.
You know what lies are for.
Even in your Zen heaven we shan’t meet.
Shifting my clarities.
How the sun polishes this shoulder!
- At this facet the bridegroom arrives
Lord of the mirrors!
It is himself he guides
In among these silk
Screens, these rustling appurtenances.
I breathe, and the mouth
Veil stirs its curtain
A concatenation of rainbows.
I am his.
Even in his
Revolve in my
Sheath of impossibles,
Priceless and quiet
- I shall unloose ---
From the small jeweled
Doll he guards like a heart ---
The shriek in the bath,
The cloak of holes.
Plath made direct poetical/political statements in her poems that challenged women then and challenge women now. Ugly truths about heterosexual relationships and the lengths even feminists will go to ignore/cover up or bury. Systemic truths that are specifically interpersonal/biological and systemic truths based on both that have and continue to shape our world for the worst. Plath may have taken her life, but nowhere can it said she was a victim. Ted Hughes didnt murder Plath. Plath was not in an abusive relationship with Ted Hughes.
The only abusive relationships Plath had/documented were with women, starting with her mother. But even the scurrilous female relationships didnt relegate Plath to victim-hood. Like most women-not having women she could count on, women she could trust, women she could be herself with (warts and all) removed a very important and much needed life-line. So that when February 11th 1963 struck, there was no one to call for help (the black telephone's off at the root) She never counted on men and her honesty about women alienated her from those who might have saved her.
But by holding up a mirror with which women could truly see ourselves, men and the world we live in come what may-Plath died a hero-NOT a victim. But for feminists to view Plath's work as a powerhouse, independent of Plath the woman, they would have to reconcile Plath (the woman and poet's) criticism of female passivity, co-dependence and collusion with men. Thereby forcing women/feminist readers to take a good look in the mirror. Its easier for feminist readers of Plath to blame male infidelity on her suicide and make her a victim. Plath had a 182 IQ in 6th grade, life was never so simple an equation for Plath and feminist's victimology of her/her work is moronic.