Misogyny of the Beat Generation

The writers of the Beat generation, including Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and several other men, have been called many things, from revolutionary to obscene, profound to self-indulgent. Though feminist backlash notes the exclusion of women from the movement and the misogynistic attitudes towards women advocated in Beat literature, many are willing to overlook this criticism and focus on the widespread influence of the Beats. This could lead into a conversation about art as art versus art as social statement, and the social responsibility of artists. Notably, the Beats are seen as opening the door for the hippie movement, which certainly espoused feminist ideologies. Perhaps, in the long run, feminism benefitted from the Beats opening the door for a counterculture. Perhaps not. But given the lasting romantic view of the Beats and the pseudo-revival they’ve experienced with recent film adaptations including Howl and Kill Your Darlings, their messages are worth scrutinizing.

  • I think a closer look at the Beats is necessary before judgment can be passed on them as Misogynists. I don't mean to imply they were not, of course. Kerouac certainly had moments where he objectified women, though I do not see this as damaging. The Lost Generation, albeit named by a woman, were certainly more misogynistic than the Beats. We should probably look at this group as moving a step closer to losing this negative attitude toward women. – damfer21 7 years ago

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