This essay is a critical comparison of Adrienne Rich and Patricia Williams, one as an idealist and the other as a realist.

Essay by hanadrCollege, UndergraduateA+, August 2002

download word file, 5 pages 3.4

Adrienne Rich and Patricia Williams are two very distinct voices, the former being something of an idealist, and the latter a realist. Adrienne Rich's voice taking idealistic positions on how society, more specifically, women can regain self-control and self-knowledge if they look back, "re-envisioning" the past. This way, women can ultimately revise it and render it differently, for the better, in the present and future. Patricia Williams, on the other hand, understands the concept of revising the old viewpoints of past assumptions and biases, however she would claim it to be ultimately futile to attempt to do so because of the way society constructs the person. Revision cannot occur because it is a "sociological event." (Williams 702) Revision would be such a colossal feat that would involve revaluing much of society, its values, and much of human nature as we know it today. In fact, many actions that have been taken toward revision in the past have merely led to an aversion of the problem, blindly believing the obstacle to have been hurdled, when in fact the obstacle has merely become a "phantom."

(Williams 697)

To Williams, attempts toward "revision" have been made, but have not helped bridge the chasm between black and white society; the problem has merely been pushed further back into the proverbial closet of society, a hidden skeleton. It exists, but it is unseen, it is a "phantom" that must be tiptoed around.

"It is outrageously demeaning that none of this can be called racism, even if it happens only to, or only large numbers of, black people; as long as it's done with a smile, a handshake, and a shrug; as long as the phantom word race is never used." (Williams 697)

In this quote Williams indicates exactly the type of modifications "revision"...