Miron considers many of the circumstances that shaped the Jewish experience during that time. He mentions the different relationship to Yiddish (the Mamaloshen) and Hebrew (the language of tradition) that many women might have experienced (though he debunks this theory by highlighting the equal access to education in Eretz Israel and the fact that women were writing Hebrew prose throughout this time), as well as the changes in the political landscape in the Soviet Union and the Land of Israel. Yet, these explanations are insufficient, which he notes.
Miron’s analysis points to what I think is a common error made in using history to analyze a phenomenon. Too often, we look at the news-worthy and “textbook” large-scale events- wars, political regimes, economic conditions, etc.- to explain what we have observed. However, as Miron astutely realizes, sometimes a seemingly small symptom or by-product of that large-scale event is in fact the cause we are looking for.
In describing the phenomenon of Jewish women’s poetry emerging in only two of the 5-6 areas in which Jewish women’s writing was proliferating, he explains that “both locations [Eretz Yisrael and the Soviet Union] were characterized by a period of stormy upheaval and by ideologies supporting liberation for the oppressed. This atmosphere coincided with a weakening of the old hierarchies in the literary establishment.” (p. 66) This upheaval signifies a massive change in the Jewish experience, yet, as an explanation, it is incomplete. It does not help to answer all of the questions raised above.
To answer those questions, we have to dig deeper. Miron does so, realizing that this transformation of the Jewish experience resulted in pushback against the Bialik-established, dominating mode of Jewish poetry. Women were not expressing themselves according to his standards (expression the personal through the national experience, and a densely layering culture and tradition in its style, Miron, 73), and thus were effectively silenced during this era. “Only when this star dimmed,” according to Miron (90), when Bialik’s influence began to wane, could women begin to be heard, and this happened as a result of the questioning and challenging of old norms that emerged from the changes that happened in the places in which these writers lived.
*Miron, Dan. “Why was there no women’s poetry in Hebrew before 1920?” in Gender and Text in Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literature. (As cited in the syllabus)