Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Edna St. Vincent Millay

I really enjoyed Mr. Searles discussion of Edna St. Vincent Millay and her writing. Mr. Searles began by highlighting important events and significant details from Edna’s life. Most of the information centered around her family life, work in poetry, and awards. One idea that stood out to me the most about her was her defiance of societal norms. She was bisexual and very open about it in the 1920’s which was very unusual for this time. She also was in a open marriage where she was married to one man but still would see other people. She portrayed her unconventional lifestyle and views in her poetry.

In her poem, The Penitent she talks about her “sin”, which was her engagement in premarital sex. She ends the poem by saying, “”I’ve been a wicked girl,’ said I; ‘But if I can’t be sorry, why, I might as well be glad!’”. She acknowledges the norm back then that women were meant to feel “wicked” after having sex prior to marriage, but then she pokes fun at this idea and shows her unorthodox outlook by saying that instead of feeling “wicked” she feels “glad”. The poem Feast also outlines her sexual desires. She challenges the double standard because usually it is men who have outward sexual desires, not woman. It is interesting how even though these poems were written a long time ago, they are still very relevant to the discussion of sexuality today. This may be because even though society has progressed a lot socially in these years there are still many occasions where people are judgmental about the lives of others.

Edna St. Vincent Millay used poetry to express her stance on current social issues.  This reminds me of how many people in the public eye who have strong opinions do the same.  Lady Gaga is one artist who expresses her views in her music. “Poker Face”, “Bad Romance”, and “Love Game” are some of her songs that challenge societal norms, and especially so because Lady Gaga is a female. Lady Gaga is also openly bisexual. Her songs are full of sexual references in effort to normalize them. She uses her fame as a platform to advocate for LGBT, gender equality, youth empowerment, and many more causes. Her music illuminates her work for these campaigns which is very similar to what Edna St. Vincent Millay did with poetry. They both lived life the way they wanted to while also sharing their opinions with others. It’s going to take people like them, who “challenge the sexual double standard” using their status, to help educate and enlighten people them with new ideas and ways of life.

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