Women Unmodified Opening Remarks of The Dark Madonna by Karen Rowe

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 In the opening remarks of the symposium, CSW director Karen Rowe lamented that “too often we look at the ethnic differences that separate women, rather than the commonalities of heritage that link us together … ultimate we [organizers of The Dark Madonna] seek to foster a dialogue  among women of different  ethnic heritages about the common inheritance  we all share”

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Ethnicity becomes an individual trait possessed by singular women of “different heritages” while women as a group all “share” a “common inheritance.”  This rhetorical shifting of some aspects of identity in the place of others reflects what Meileig Cheng has described as an effort to displaced ethnicity with “color blind” culture creating a “a free semiotic zone ready for multiple linguistic, cognitive, and imaginative reconstructions.”[1]

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 in this imaginative reconstruction enacted by Rowe, women’s fictive family bridges specificities of “different heritages” by a “common heritage” which incorporates all that formerly went by the name women’s culture.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Rowe ends her speech by quote from the poem  Sometimes as women only by Gloria Gayles that while it begins by addressing black women end in a stanza that could be interpreted as addressed to all women “unmodified”  about their shared oppression (taught to whisper) and suffering (weep)

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 sometimes
as women only
do we weep
we are taught to whisper
when we wish to scream
assent when we wish to defy
dance pretty
(on tiptoe)
when we could raise circles of dust
before the charge

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 The universal application of the poem becomes further emphasized when Rowe uses the lines of the poem “both whisper and scream, not dance pretty, but to raise circles of dust before the change” to describe Suzanne Lacy.  Further conflict ensued during the presentations.

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10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 [1] Cheng notes in particular that the move from multi-ethnic to multicultural represents a desire to replace race with the more neutral idea of culture.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 [2] a poem also quoted at 25th anniversary of Spelman’s women’s center remembering audre lorde 2005


Source: https://politicsofwomensculture.michellemoravec.com/about-2/contention/the-womens-culture-wars/the-dark-madonna-1985-1986/the-dark-madonna-women-culture-and-community-rituals-a-symposium/opening-night-of-the-dark-madonna/opening-remarks-of-the-dark-madonna-by-karen-rowe/