Hello and welcome to the Week in Garbage Men! This week we are taking a break from the manosphere and into the equally misogynistic realm of the lowly esteemed National Review — where one Jeremy Carl is very mad about how feminists and the left drove poet Phyllis McGinley into obscurity, because of how we hate motherhood.
The gist of this essay is that Phyllis McGinley was a very popular poet, with many bestsellers, who was beloved by Kirk Douglas and all the people, but — unlike Sylvia Plath and Ann Sexton — is no longer famous, because people on the left didn’t care for her politics.
No, what consigned McGinley to the dustbin of literary history was her politics. And in the un-personing of McGinley, we can get a glimpse of the Left’s simultaneous ruthlessness and cultural hegemony. Simply put, McGinley’s thought crime was that she was a happy, Christian, suburban mother and housewife who extolled both her life in the suburbs and traditional roles for women. For the Left, her failure to be miserable and angry at her situation was an unforgivable sin. The erasure of her voice and what it represented is a sobering thought for conservatives on this Mother’s Day. As with much else in our culture, absent voices like McGinley’s, we look at motherhood, even, through a left-wing lens.
Carl insists that her style of “light verse” was not to blame for her lack of recognition after her death in 1978, although one of the poems he cites as an example of her work, in which she tries to rhyme the words “lance” and “tolerance,” begs to differ:
The other day I chanced to meet / An angry man upon the street /
A man of wrath, a man of war / A man who truculently bore / Over his shoulder, like a lance / A banner labeled “Tolerance.”
Yeah. That is just not a good poem. TolerANCE? Really?
He cites another poem in which she complains about feminism.
Friedan was no doubt the sort of person McGinley had in mind as she wrote poems such as The Old Feminist: “Snugly upon the equal heights / enthroned at last where she belongs / she takes no pleasure in her Rights / who so enjoyed her Wrongs.”
But he’s mad that feminists aren’t into her the way they are into Sylvia Plath and Ann Sexton. Gee, why would that be? Poetry, like all forms of culture, is personal, and people — shockingly enough — tend to prefer poetry that speaks to them. Not all poetry speaks to everyone. Personally, I like Dorothy Parker a lot more than I like Plath, whom I have a slight Olive Higgins Prouty-related grudge against. Does that mean that I am un-personing Sylvia Plath? No, because people who like her are perfectly capable of reading “The Bell Jar” on their own. People are allowed to like and not like things. America!
I fully admit to having no idea who the hell Phyllis McGinley is — but I would also like to note that I called my mom to say “Hey Mom, why did you guys murder this Phyllis lady back in the ’60s?” and she had no idea who she was either, but maintains that if there were that much outrage over her work she probably would have heard about it, “Like the cellophane lady, we knew about her.”
This is but the latest chapter in conservatives thinking it is our job to like things for them. I would think that if they wanted Phyllis McGinley to remain famous, they would have read her books their own damn selves.
Anyway, this is now your open thread! Enjoy! Don’t forget to tip us on your way out!