On Lies, Secrets and Silence by Adrienne Rich

This is one of those things that has been on my shelf forever and that I finally got around to reading cover to cover. Containing selected essays of Rich's from 1966-1978, this collection contains some of the seminal essays of the Second Wave feminist movement, especially in regards to women and writing or education, including "When We Dead Awaken" and "Toward a Woman-Centered University."

But one of the essays that really touched me personally was "Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying," which explores, among other things, the issue of privacy. While there is no doubt that privacy is often a good thing, there have been way too many times in my life that I have seen privacy used to oppress, and lying used to perpetuate relationships that should be ended. Especially powerful are Rich's statements against the lies that women are asked to put forward every day to appease the people around them. Consider this: "The liar has many friends, and leads an existence of great loneliness."

This is great comfort to me as I am someone who has often chosen to share my thoughts and stand my ground and has sometimes suffered the consequences for it. Not that it is always right to spill your guts, and I can admit to many circumstances when it would have been better to keep my mouth shut, but it's comforting to know that one of the most prominent women writers of our time has something to say about it.


  1. i have been reading this essay for 30 years, it is a great treasure and courageous truth.

  2. Adrienne Rich has left us, but her work continues. I point you to her groundbreaking essay "Vesuvius at Home: The Power of Emily Dickinson", from this book. It changed forever people's image of Dickinson.