Literature certainly does not exist outside of the influence of society. Dan Miron, the above quoted author, appears to ignore literature’s, and especially poetry’s, exposed position when he writes, “In short, misogyny and male chauvinism are not the issue here”, and later, “the discrimination, if it existed, was not in the ill will of the literary establishment. Instead it manifested itself in the cultural and aesthetic tastes, and in the norms and restrictions these determined” (Miron, 70). Miron fails to understand that patriarchy can present itself in many different forms: expecting the literary establishment to be solely—and uniquely— at fault for discrimination assumes a disconnection between social influences and realities, and writers. Literature is influenced both by the individual author and the social experiences of the author and the reader, which are perhaps less clear. Social experiences at the time of the poets in question, at the time Miron wrote his article, and in the present moment are inherently gendered. How do we begin to approach poetry with the knowledge that literature is not immune to gendered binaries, and has a long history of privileging the male mind?
Gilbert and Gubar, in their piece “Infection in the Sentence”, further address this centricity of male experience within Hebrew literature. Within the idea of ‘anxiety of authorship’, Gilbert and Gubar find a way to classify the almost crushing importance placed on the poetry of the first female poets; without female predecessors, each woman was creating something new, something that could be taken from her and turned to symbolize something unintended. The act of authorship opened the door wide for destruction. Women were not only writing poetry, but were attempting to do so in the ‘language of men’—was this an instance of triumphant ownership of language, or of women’s conformance and ultimate submission?
I see the bottom line as the following: Women poets recognize in themselves the “other”; whether or not we agree with Miron’s claims that there was no discrimination, intentional or vaguely patriarchal, is irrelevant. In early Israel’s literary atmosphere, a firmly established, male-dominated literary tradition did exist that fundamentally made women’s participation “unnatural” and prevented women from easily joining the canon of Hebrew poetry. Women’s poetry, therefore, could understandably be polemical in nature. Ultimately, gender is a useful tool for understanding women’s engagement with literature, a pursuit that cannot avoid the influences of gendered society.