In one of Marge Piercy’s poems, ‘For Strong Women,’ we find the following verse:
A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren’t you feminine, why aren’t
you soft, why aren’t you quiet,
why aren’t you dead?
Similarly, we might say that a moral woman is a woman in whose head a voice is repeating words like ‘immature,’ ‘pathological,’ ‘inadequate,’ ‘immoral,’ ‘evil.’ What I explore in this paper are various ways in which a woman’s moral voice and her sense of moral integrity can be twisted and destroyed by patriarchal ideology and lived experience.