Women and Honor

Response to “Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying,” by Adrienne Rich In 1977, when Adrienne Rich wrote this essay, the women’s movement was in full swing. Women needed to speak loudly about their issues, just to be heard. However, even at that time, it would seem that her essay is a lot of empty rhetoric for rhetoric’s sake. One can almost imagine Rich in front of an audience, reading her words aloud in a singsong voice that matches the rhythm of the words, intending to sound preacher-like. Even back in the day, her complaints were not fresh and new.

Rich complains about society expecting women to be deceitful, or about having to women having to alter their appearance to appeal to men. She all but accuses all women–except herself, of course, or how could you take her essay at face value? –of being habitual liars. In addition, Rich makes it sound as if women are the only ones who change appearance to attract or to satisfy their mates. Yet, many men work out, dye their hair, or even buy a dog to walk in order to appeal to women. Adrienne Rich states that “heterosexuality as an institution has also drowned in silence the erotic feeling between women” (416).

While she may have felt this attraction, she does not speak for all women. In addition, Rich makes every relationship between two individuals, no matter what their sexes, a battle of sexual politics, yet not every relationship is a matter of constant striving for supremacy over one’s partner. This essay was a difficult one for me to finish reading. While Rich clearly expresses her views, she offers no clear explanation as to why these things occur except for the vague accusation of “they make us do it. ” She offers no practical solutions for the difficulties that she feels are so problematic.

Nor are her words particularly meaningful or powerful, since she offers nothing with which to back them up. Instead of supporting the cause of women in this essay, Rich turns them into sexualized infants who lie to get their way but otherwise do as their told. No, I do not agree with the ideas that are expressed in Rich’s essay. This essay is merely the empty and angry rambling of a militant feminist who appears to enjoy complaining about a situation without suggesting solutions that would ease the problems that anger her so greatly.