While first reading the poems assigned, I did not entirely pick up on the sex that was being discussed. It was in class while Mr. Searles read aloud that I began to form connections. My favorite of them was "The Penitent," in which Edna talks about the pervading culture during her era: People were taught to feel remorse for any little action they took. I found the stanza to be empowering where "if [she] can't be sorry, why, [she] might as well be glad!" I remember writing "YES!" on my paper near that line. Unfortunately, we still live in world where there is still "slut shaming" for women coming from both men and women. The ending of the poem calls for women to be shameless and to at least have fun. I could not help chanting SWAGA in my head as we read the "Feast" and "What Lips My Lips Have Kissed." She embodies what I personally hope our society can come to fully accept. We have come some way since the Roaring 20's, but there are still moments where women must silence their sexuality. The double standard for women regarding the hook up culture still exists, and I hope that soon is eradicated. Men are empowered and congratulated when "hooking up," and yet women are seen as less than or immediately labeled as "easy."
I find it extremely impressive that in the early 1900s, where conservatism pervaded everyday life, Edna St. Vincent Millay was able to be openly progressive in her lifestyle and written work. Her poems go against the social norms, which is especially more impressive given the era. As Mr. Searles lectured in class and described Edna life as one where her father was not present, I could not help but try to psychoanalyze her. While growing up, her father was not present, and as result, she saw her mother become the head of the house providing for her and her sisters. Mr. Searles commented that he would like to think that Edna was bold in her writing and lifestyle because that was just the person she was, but I think there could be other aspects to it. On one hand, Edna promoted womanhood and independence because she saw her mother trying to raise her family alone, and so, she wanted to be that strong. When hearing that Edna's father was absent, I immediately thought that she may have "daddy issues" where the nonexistent relationship with her father caused her promiscuity. In that moment, I thought of Meredith Grey in Grey's Anatomy (sorry!) where she too had a messed up relationship with her father which led her to the beds of multiple men. While reading "Feast," I referred the thirst and insatiability to Edna in search of something more. Perhaps Edna's sexual experiences with a plethora men was her struggling to find the affection that her father never gave her?