Adrienne Rich and equal opportunity

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Adrienne Rich is a feminist who feels very strongly about educating women beyond their secondary status and creating equal opportunity for all races and genders. In her essay, “Taking Women Students Seriously,” she discusses her personal problems along with the problems society was facing. She begins by focusing on her history of education where she explains how women were bred to become education majors despite the degree they earned. Believing education was far from “co-educated,” she wanted to give women the equal education they were being deprived of when she went into teaching. Education was teaching that “men were the shapers and thinkers of the world, and that this was only natural,” (Rich p7). Women were also at a disadvantage in her eyes because they were constant victims of rape, sexual harassment, and were “perceived not as sovereign human beings but as prey,” saying men were hardly the targets of pornographic magazines (Rich p8). Although Rich backs up her argument with valid examples, she is outdated and that this “attack” on women does not fully exist to this extent today (Rich 5-).

Women many years ago had very limited rights, but we are now in a time of equal opportunity. We have women in Congress and many other political positions, highly successful businesswomen and leaders, and women’s athletic events. Tidal Nine has changed athletics for women providing equal scholarship opportunities and compensations for women’s teams. I am on the volleyball team here at Clemson, and I have been treated just as well as any of the male athletes. I have been given as much free stuff as any other team on campus. Women are no longer overlooked athletically or in any other areas.

Rich believes that women are bred to become teachers or housewives or just look to marry an eligible bachelor, and that they are not given an equal education. She says,

The university curriculum, the high school curriculum,

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do not provide this kind of knowledge for women, the

knowledge of Womankind, whose experience has been

so profoundly different from that of mankind (p7).

Women’s education in schools is no different from that of any male. Some guys are smarter than others, but there are girls that are smarter than others too. It all depends on the person. She even states that “not biology, but ignorance of our selves has been the key to our powerlessness,” (Rich p7). It isn’t a gender issue. It is an issue of motivation and work ethic. My best friend, Brigid, is a National Merit scholar and straight A student. She was one of the smartest people in my high school class. Because she worked hard and studied daily, she reaped the benefits of high test scores, a high GPA, and many academic awards. She was valedictorian of my senior class as well. She is a prime example of why Rich is wrong about education being strictly male-based. Rich also said it was a rare occasion to see a woman speak on a platform and actually have the attention of her audience. She says,

I never saw a single woman on a lecture platform, or

in front of a class, except when a woman graduate student

gave a paper on a special topic. The “great men” talked of

other “great men,” of the nature of Man, the history of

Mankind, the future of Man (p5).

This again proves to be incorrect. My friend chose to speak at our graduation ceremony as our valedictorian and had the attention of everyone in the audience because her speech was so moving. Our student council president was a female as well and gave more speeches throughout the school year than most do in a lifetime.

Rich also talks about how women are always the victims of rape, pornographies, and sexual violence of any kind. While this is true, men have been victims of just as many occurrences in recent times. Women teachers have sexually harassed male students. Playgirl provides an equally provocative display of men. Good looking men have pictures up on billboards, in magazines, and on posters. A good example is the Abercrombie and Fitch clothing store. They put the best looking teenage models on their bags. Those same models greeted customers at the doors in their boxers to entice girls into the store. The inappropriate sexual display goes both ways between males and females. Rich believes that only men are capable of rape and taking advantage of women, but times have changed and now you have to be careful no matter what gender you are.

Rich speaks like women are overlooked and have no leadership roles in life. Women have become more dominant now and have earned it all through their own hard work just like any man who made it to the top. Today it’s all an issue of work ethic. Women can be anything we want to be.

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