English Paper 4.docx - Jaworski 1 Jordan Jaworski Professor Ready English 1050 The Beats and their Spawn 09 December 2015 A Critical Look at the Women

English Paper 4.docx - Jaworski 1 Jordan Jaworski Professor...

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Jaworski 1 Jordan Jaworski Professor Ready English 1050: The Beats and their Spawn 09 December 2015 A Critical Look at the Women of the Beat Generation The Beat Generation, led by revolutionary writers such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, promoted radical and often controversial ideas as they took society by storm in the late 1940’s and 1950’s. Their writings encouraged a free lifestyle that would allow people to live their lives as they pleased. Their use of drugs and sexual liberation inspired readers to question the conformity and conservatism of society at that time. Surprisingly, their ideas that pushed the norms of society were not welcoming or accepting to everyone. In fact, the Beats limited their supporters and inner circle to mostly white males. They were extremely racist and misogynistic. However, there were numerous women writers of the Beat Generation that adapted their ideas and messages into their own writings. Sadly, they are often over looked and underappreciated, even today, by the followers, spawns, and admirers of the Beats. Some of the most notable female writers of the Beat Generation include Joyce Johnson, Joanne Kyger, and Hettie Jones for they adapted the ethos of the Beats in their writings as well as addressed the sexism of the time. Joyce Johnson gained attention in the 1950’s for her relationship with Jack Kerouac, which she recounts in her memoir, Minor Characters. Johnson directly addresses the sexism that existed among the beats within this memoir. She states, “the whole Beat scene had very little to do with the participation of women as artists themselves. The real communication was going on between the men, and the women were there as onlookers . . . if you were intelligent and interested in things you might pick up what you could” (qtd. in Farrugia 35). As a result, Joyce Johnson and many other women who surrounded themselves with the Beats were often inspired by the ideas they presented even if that was never the Beat’s intentions. The males of the Beat Generation never realized that the ideas they were presenting, which were intended to inspire
Jaworski 2 men, could relate to many women who felt suffocated by the standards of society at the time. For example, many women, including Johnson, were inspired by Jack Kerouac’s On the Road despite its male-centered narrative. In an interview Joyce Johnson recounted that “in 1957 when On the Road was published, thousands of Fifties women experienced a powerful response”

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