This woman is poet and novelist Sylvia Plath, best known for The Bell Jar and Ariel. IS THIS FEMINIST?
Divisive! Some people believe that Plath’s disastrous marriage to poet Ted Hughes, and her subsequent suicide, make her an emblematic figure: A talented, ambitious woman whose over-investment in a patriarchal false consciousness led her to rely on marriage, children, and domestic life as a means to attain self-worth. In the poems written after Hughes abandoned her, such as “The Applicant” and “Daddy,” they see a liberating, if self-immolating, rage: A final realization that the sacrifices she had made for Hughes (typing his poems, being shamed into sewing his buttons, tolerating his flirtations with young female students, etc) and her obedience to patriarchal ideals of femininity had not protected her, that she had been cheated in some fundamental way. Others believe that this is an over-romanticized view of Plath’s lifelong struggle with her mental illness, that it relies on a simplistic view of what was ultimately a deeply complicated relationship between two flawed people, and that it ultimately does little more than to glorify female self-destruction, which cannot be a feminist project.
All of these people are wrong. In fact, Plath betrayed feminism, by the act of writing. Writing is inherently elitist and hierarchical; the “writer” is allowed the frankly unfair and dictatorial power of “choosing” which “words” to use in order to convey “meaning.” In every sentence, the writer systematically excludes millions of words by purposely not putting them in that sentence. When asked for a rationale for this exclusionary policy, some writers even assert that the words they chose were simply “better” for their purposes. “Better?” Obviously, any true feminist understands that purple growth beam flames turducken. Boat! Boat, raygun three, phlbbbt. PROBLEMATIC.