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danila cervantes

on 16 December 2013

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Transcript of OUTLINE: CLAIMING AN EDUCATION by Adrienne Rich


Rich's first argument targets all students, especially women, to claim an education rather than receive it.
- To receive is to come in possession of
- To claim is to be the rightful owner.
To claim for education women must first take responsibility and be assertive towards a better future.

Rich's second argument states that the faculty of a college should be expected to take women students seriously. A number of make professors tend to "eroticize" women in the classroom. Instead of demanding for their intellectual abilities, they treat women as sexual objects

"It is therefore that I would have woman lay aside all thought, such as she habitually cherishes, of being taught and led by men" (Fuller 745).
-The Great Lawsuit
Rich’s description of the necessity of removing the sexism in universities and their perspectives relates to Fuller’s belief that equality in marriage is equally important. Fuller writes, "But that is the very fault of marriage, and of the present relation between the sexes, that the woman does not belong to the man, instead of forming a whole with him" (Fuller, 747). Just as Fuller looks for a marriage of equality, Rich advocates the same quality in universities: "For one thing, it is only within the last hundred years that higher education has grudgingly been opened up to women at all, even to white, middle-class women. And many of us have found ourselves poring eagerly over books with titles like:
The Descent of Man; [other such titles omitted]
- books pretending to describe a "human reality that does not include over one-half of the human species" (Rich, 609).
Both Rich and Fuller describe the importance of taking control of your destiny and making a life for yourself in any way you see fit. To both, this means that you cannot allow others to label you as male, female, or otherwise. As Rich states, "Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, ad naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work...It means insisting that those to whom you give your friendship and love are able to respect your mind" (Rich, 610). Fuller writes in "Women in the Nineteenth Century", "What woman needs is not as a woman to act or rule, but as a nature to grow, as an intellect to discern, as a soul to live freely, and unimpeded to unfold such powers as were given her when we left our common home" (Fuller, 31).
Both writers utilize the works and teachings of other feminists to reinforce their points. For example, Fuller cites Madame Dudevant, better known as George Sand, who wrote under the guise of a masculine identity so as to be recognized by male society. "Such women as these, rich in genius, of most tender sympathies, and capable of high virtue and a chastened harmony, ought not to find themselves by birth in a place so narrow, that in breaking bonds they become outlaws" (Fuller, 741). Rich, similarly, quotes Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her "impatience with studies which cultivate a 'passive recipiency' in the mind" (Rich, 611)
1) Man and woman cannot be fully united in marriage unless they acknowledge each other as equal in thought and feeling.

2) By the current (that is, the time she wrote) society’s view of women, it is only possible to achieve this equality, whether in marriage or celibacy, through accomplishments if one is under the guise of a male.

3) For Margaret Fuller, women's suffrage was a necessity, but she also realized that true equality would not come until men accepted women as their equal.
"Women like Sand will speak now, and cannot be silenced; their characters and their eloquence alike foretell an era when such as they shall easier learn to lead true lives."
-The Great Lawsuit


In her essay, she is speaking to a group of female students at a women’s college. Rich starts out by saying that there is an "ethical and intellectual" contract between a student and their professor. Although it is unwritten, one must look onto it if the education one is receiving is poor and depersonalized. Her first argument is that students must claim an education rather than receive it. She emphasizes that in the case of women the matter is of life and death. She believes that the most devastating weakness in education is the exclusion of women in the academic community. Although nowadays we see an increasing number of women in universities, there are still very few of those institutions that women take part of as faculty. Rich claims that everything one learns reflects how men have perceived history and experiences, one typically hears about what the white man has accomplished now.
She wants people to acknowledge this fact and change it. She believes that women studies are scholarly, scientific, and are a human necessity. But in her essay she preferred to focus on the fact that although enrolling in a women's studies course is a very enriching experience, she suggests another more essential experience which is taking responsibility toward oneself. Responsibility for oneself, Rich believes, is refusing to let others do your talking, thinking and acting. You must refuse to sell out short just to avoid hard work and conflict. Her second argument is that all women must be taken seriously by all faculty. It is required for a woman to be taken seriously so she takes herself seriously. Rich encourages that women should seek out criticism to push themselves further to realize your true potential.

"What you can learn here is how

have perceived and organized their experience, their history, their ideas of social relationships, good and evil, sickness and health etc" (Rich 609).
- Claiming an Education
Adrienne Rich's demanding tone in her piece enforces her requests for equality in higher education, much as Margaret Fuller's demands for women's suffrage placed her as a leading voice in the feminist fight. As Rich says "...you cannot afford to think of being here to
an education; you will do much better to think of yourselves as being here to
one" (Rich, 608). Fuller likewise questions when a women will come forth who is willing to stand up for her sex, "The woman who shall vindicate their birthright for all women; who shall teach them what to claim, and how to use what they obtain?" (Fuller, 747).
"...we must insist on a life of meaningful work, insist that work be as meaningful as love and friendship in our lives."
-Claiming an Education

Margaret Fuller was born on May 23, 1810 in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts. She was a significant leader in the woman's right movement and a transcendentalist, She was part of the transcendentalist magazine The Dial. she was also known for her feminist perspective.
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