If I had to name a single quality characteristic of patriarchy, it would be compartmentalization.... Intellect severed from emotion.... The earth itself divided—national borders.... If I had to name a single quality characteristic of global feminism, it would be connectivity—a capacity dangerous to every status quo, because of its insistence on noticing.
In a lifetime of battle for women’s dignity and global change, Robin Morgan uses words as ammunition, as one can see in the above quotation from The Word of a Woman (1992). As poet, novelist, journalist, lecturer and feminist theorist, she expresses the reality of contemporary women’s oppression. Her identification with women knows no borders. She travels far to interview women rebel fighters in the Philippines, Palestinian women activists in the Intifada, and postrevolutionary Iranian women.
Morgan is also a renowned activist. She was one of the key organizers of the 1968 protest at Atlantic City’s Miss America Contest, which helped launch the second wave of United States feminism. A decade later she became a spearhead of the international women’s liberation movement.
Morgan has written more than a dozen books, including five books of poetry, two novels and numerous books of essays. She is best known as editor of two important anthologies. Sisterhood Is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women’s Liberation Movement (1970) gives voice to American feminists of the 1960s. These raw and immediate essays cover topics such as female orgasm, the nature of prostitution, the lives of radical lesbians and the challenge of being black and female.
The second groundbreaking volume she edited, Sisterhood Is Global: The International Women’s Movement Anthology (1984), compiles articles about the status of women in seventy countries. In 1984 Morgan founded the Sisterhood Is Global Institute (SIGI), bringing together the writers of the anthology at an organizing conference. SIGI functions as a think-tank on women’s human rights worldwide.
A third anthology, Sisterhood is Forever, the Women’s Anthology for a New Millenium (2003) was a well received collection of articles by well-known feminists in which Morgan exhorted feminists, both the young and the “vintage,” to take credit for the astounding and irreversible revolution they had brought about.
Morgan was born on January 29, 1941, daughter of Faith Berkeley Morgan, in Lake Worth, Florida. She married writer Kenneth Pitchford, whom she later divorced. Together they had one son, Blake Morgan-Pitchford, born in 1969. She attended Columbia University and remained in New York City. She was a contributing editor to Ms. magazine for twenty years, becoming its editor-in-chief from 1990 to 1993, when it was relaunched as an advertising-free publication. She has received numerous awards, including the National Endowment for the Arts prize in poetry, the Feminist Majority Foundation Woman of the Year Award and the Front Page Award for Distinguished Journalism.
Robin Morgan identifies her religion as Wiccan and/or atheist. She writes: “When compelled to define myself specifically in ethnic terms—I have described myself as being European American of Ashkenazic (with a touch of Sephardic) Jewish ancestry. I respect and understand the desire of others to affirm their ethnic roots as central to their identities, but while I’m quite proud of mine, I feel they’re just not particularly central to my identity. And I am deeply opposed to all patriarchal religions, including though not limited to Judaism.”
To see video clips of an interview with Robin Morgan from the MAKERS project, click here.
The Anatomy of Freedom: Feminism, Physics, and Global Politics (1982); Death Benefits (1981); The Demon Lover: On the Sexuality of Terrorism (1989, republished 2001 with new introduction and a new afterword, “Letters from Ground Zero”); Depth Perception: New Poems and a Masque (1982); Dry Your Smile: A Novel (1987); Going Too Far: The Personal Chronicle of a Feminist (1977); A Hot January: Poems 1996-1999 (1999); Lady of the Beasts: Poems (1976); The Mer-Child: A Legend for Children and Other Adults (1991); Monster: Poems (1972); The New Woman: An Anthology, poetry editor (1969); Saturday’s Child: A Memoir (2000); Sisterhood Is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women’s Liberation Movement, compiled, edited, and introduction (1970); Sisterhood Is Global: The International Women’s Movement Anthology, compiled, edited, and introduction (1984); Sisterhood is Forever: The Women’s Anthology for the New Millenium, compiled, introduction, conclusion (2003); Upstairs in the Garden: Selected and New Poems, 1968–1988 (1990); The Word of a Woman: Feminist Dispatches 1968–1992 (1992).
American Women Writers. Vol. 5, Supplement. Edited by Carol Hurd Green and Mary Grimley Mason (1994); Contemporary Authors. Vol. 29 (1990); Jewish American Women Writers. Edited by Ann R. Shapiro (1994); Major Twentieth-Century Writers: A Selection of Sketches from Contemporary Authors. Edited by Bryan Ryan (1991); Morgan, Robin. Correspondence with author, December 13, 1996.