This essay is conjectural and conversational. Conversational with other texts, other minds; but also among the importantly divergent logics of poetry and discourse, discourse and exploratory essay. Decades ago, skeptical about the force of a strictly woman-centered feminist theory whose reactive stance seemed to corroborate the secondary status of the feminine in the age-old M/F binary, I was struck — in a sense, saved — by the realization of a gender and genre transgressive experimental feminine rooted in embodied female experience but integral to all struggles (personal, sociopolitical, ethical, and aesthetic) with the cultural coercions of an ubermasculine hegemony. At the time I was in the process of writing “Rethinking Literary Feminism: Three Essays onto Shaky Grounds” in response to an invitation from scholars Lynn Keller and Cristanne Miller for their collection Feminist Measures: Soundings in Poetry and Theory.
Antigone: I stand convicted of impiety,
the evidence, my pious duty done …
Chorus: The same tempest of mind
as ever, controls the girl.
Despite the fact that gender identities are in increasingly complex conversation with biology and cultural construction the reductive force of patriarchy, with its sidekick misogyny, remains the catastrophic constant. — S. M. Quant