Susan Griffin

Susan Griffin (born January 26, 1943)[1] is a radical feminist philosopher, essayist and playwright[2] particularly known for her innovative, hybrid-form ecofeminist works.

Susan Griffin
Born (1943-01-26) January 26, 1943 (age 79)
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
  • Philosopher
  • essayist
  • playwright
  • poet
Notable workWoman and Nature (1978)


Griffin was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1943[2] and has resided in California since then. Following her father's death when she was 16, she bounced around the family but ended up with a Jewish family. Her biological family were of Irish, Scottish, Welsh and German ancestry. Having spent a year in a post-War Jewish home, her German heritage wasn't openly spoken of and she initially demonized Germans, but later made several trips to Germany (including to the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp) to reconcile her Jewish and German heritages.[3][4] She attended the University of California, Berkeley for two years, then transferred to San Francisco State College, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing (1965) and her Master of Arts degree (1973), both degrees under the tutelage of Kay Boyle.[5] She has taught as an adjunct professor at UC Berkeley as well as at Stanford University and California Institute of Integral Studies.[5] Griffin has taught at the California Institute for Integral Studies, Pacifica Graduate Institute, the Wright Institute, and the University of California.

She currently lives in Berkeley, California.[6] Griffin's papers are located at the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, at Harvard University.[7]


Griffin has written 21 books, including works of nonfiction, poetry, anthologies, plays, and a screenplay.[5] Her work has been translated into over 12 languages. Griffin describes her work as "draw[ing] connections between the destruction of nature, the diminishment of women and racism, and trac[ing] the causes of war to denial in both private and public life."[6]

"Rape: The All-American Crime" (1971), an article published in Ramparts, was one of the first publications about rape from a feminist perspective.[8]

Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her (1978) has sold more than 100,000 copies,[5] and draws connections between ecological destruction, sexism, and racism.[6] Considered a form of prose-poetry, this work is believed to have launched ecofeminism in the United States.[5] Griffin attributes her connection to ecofeminism to her upbringing along the Pacific Coast, which she believes cultivated her awareness of ecology.[6]

Griffin articulated her anti-pornography feminism in Pornography and Silence: Culture's Revenge Against Nature (1981).[9][10] In this work she makes the case that although the pursuit of freedom of speech, could lead to a position against the censorship of pornography, in the case of pornography the freedom to create pornography leads to a compromise of "human liberation" when this term includes liberation for all of humankind including the emancipation of women. She argues against the elision of pornography and eros, arguing that they are separate and opposing ideas.[11][12] According to Griffin, pornography's origins are rooted in a widespread fear of nature,[10] and in a pornographic culture, men are told to take on the role of the "Killer", while women become the "victims".[13] This, according to Griffin, teaches women to self-deprecate, and fuels an unhealthy, perverted culture.[10] In contrast, Griffin argues that "real sexual liberation requires a reconciliation with nature, a healing between body and spirit".[10] Critics largely responded to Pornography and Culture with contempt, many complaining that it came off as more of a rant than realistic philosophical discussion.[10][14]


Griffin has received a MacArthur grant for Peace and International Cooperation, NEA and Guggenheim Foundation fellowships, and an Emmy Award for the play Voices. She is featured in the 2014 feminist history film She's Beautiful When She's Angry.[15] She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1993[16] for A Chorus of Stones: The Private Life of War.


Many critics praise Griffin's blunt takes and insights to the role of feminism in every major issue today, while others have criticized her writings for being too convoluted or ranting. Largely, reviews for Griffin's work take opposing views on the intertwining and complicated connections she suggests between the woman and larger worldly issues such as war, disease, pornography, and nature itself.[13] These webs are mirrored in her unique writing style which critics have reflected upon extensively.[13]

In a 1994 review by Carol H. Cantrell, Griffins' Woman and Nature is dubbed "hard to describe. Most of it looks like prose on the page but the thought is fragmented, metaphorical, and discontinuous; there are plenty of stories, but they too are often elliptical and metaphorical."[17] In a review of What Her Body Thought: A Journey into the Shadows, Susan Dion of The Women's Review of Books wrote, "...Griffin is not merely reiterating old themes in feminist scholarship or the history of medicine; rather, she probes, ponders, and suggests different ways of considering many interrelated issues...Griffin's musings and hypotheses are fresh, smart, and instructive, if not always convincing."[18]

Published worksEdit


  1. ^ "Griffin, Susan, referencing American Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide from Colonial Times to the Present, The Gale Group, Inc., 2000". Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Susan Griffin". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  3. ^ "Susan Griffin". Utne Visionary. January 1995. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  4. ^ "SUSAN GRIFFIN: FEMININE AND MASCULINE". Pulse Berlin. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Hear Her Roar: Ecofeminist Author Susan Griffin Isn't Going Away". Cal Alumni Association. 2017-03-28. Retrieved 2018-03-27.
  6. ^ a b c d "Bio – Susan Griffin". Retrieved 2016-12-11.
  7. ^ Griffin, Susan. "Collection: Papers of Susan Griffin". Hollis for Archival Discovery. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  8. ^ Griffin, Susan (September 1971). "Rape: The All-American Crime". Ramparts: 26–35.
  9. ^ Willis, Ellen (1981-07-12). "NATURE'S REVENGE". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d e Willis, Ellen (12 July 1981). "NATURE'S REVENGE". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  11. ^ Tonella, Karla. "Susan Griffin Pornography and Silence: transcript of KPFA broadcast". bailiwick @ the university of iowa libraries. The University of Iowa. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  12. ^ Griffin, Susan (28 July 2015). Pornography and Silence: Culture's Revenge Against Nature. Harper & Row. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  13. ^ a b c Douglas, Carol Anne (July 1990). "Male Biology as a Problem : Woman the Natural". Love and Politics : Radical Feminist and Lesbian Theories. San Francisco, CA, USA: ISM PRESS. p. 78-9. ISBN 9780910383172.
  14. ^ WOMAN AND NATURE: The Roaring Inside Her by Susan Griffin | Kirkus Reviews.
  15. ^ "'She's Beautiful When She's Angry' Tells The Feminist History Left Out Of Your School Textbook". The Huffington Post. 2014-12-15. Retrieved 2017-03-04.
  16. ^ "The Pulitzer Prizes: General Nonfiction". Pulitzer.
  17. ^ Cantrell, Carol H. (1994). Griffin, Susan (ed.). "Women and Language in Susan Griffin's Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her". Hypatia. 9 (3): 225–238. doi:10.1111/j.1527-2001.1994.tb00459.x. JSTOR 3810198. S2CID 144630099.
  18. ^ Dion, Susan (1999). Griffin, Susan (ed.). "Sick and Tired". The Women's Review of Books. 17 (1): 11–12. doi:10.2307/4023361. JSTOR 4023361.

External linksEdit