Susan Griffin

Susan Griffin (born January 26, 1943)[1][2] is a radical feminist philosopher, essayist and playwright[3] particularly known for her innovative, hybrid-form ecofeminist works.

Susan Griffin
Born (1943-01-26) January 26, 1943
ResidenceBerkeley, California, US
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
  • Philosopher
  • essayist
  • playwright
  • poet
Notable work
Woman and Nature (1978)


Griffin was born in Los Angeles, California, US, in 1943[3] and has resided in California since then. She is the adoptive child of a Jewish family. Her biological family were gentiles of Irish, Scottish, Welsh, German, and possible crypto-Jewish ancestry. Having grown up 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.[4][5] 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 in 1965 and her Master of Arts degree in 1973, both degrees under the tutelage of Kay Boyle.[6] She has taught as an adjunct professor at UC Berkeley as well as at Stanford University and California Institute of Integral Studies.[6] She currently lives in Berkeley, California.[7]


Griffin has written 21 books, including works of nonfiction, poetry, anthologies, plays, and a screenplay.[6]

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."[7]

Griffin articulated her anti-pornography feminism in "Pornography and Silence: Culture's Revenge Against Nature".[8] In this work she makes the case that although the pursuit of "political freedom", especially 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 collapse of pornography and eros, arguing that they are separate and opposing ideas.[9][10]

In addition to her many published writings, Griffin co-wrote and narrated the award-winning 1990 documentary, Berkeley in the Sixties.

Griffin has taught at the California Institute for Integral Studies, Pacifica Graduate School, the Wright Institute, and the University of California.


Griffin's perhaps most influential work was her book, Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her, which has sold more than 100,000 copies.[6] It was first published in 1978,[6] and draws connections between ecological destruction, sexism, and racism.[7] Considered a form of prose-poetry, this work is believed to have launched ecofeminism in the United States.[6]

Griffin attributes her connection to ecofeminism to her upbringing along the Pacific Coast in the High Sierras of California, which she believes cultivated her awareness of ecology.[7]


In 1981, Griffin released another controversial and stirring book entitled Pornography and Silence: Culture's Revenge Against Nature.[11] In this work of nonfiction, Griffin railed against the influence of pornography in culture, and mourned the connection to nature which is lost to pornography. According to Griffin, pornography's origins are rooted in a widespread fear of nature,[11] and in a pornographic culture, men are told to take on the role of the "Killer", while women become the "victims". This, according to Griffin, teaches women to self-deprecate, and fuels an unhealthy, perverted culture.[11]

In contrast, Griffin argues that "real sexual liberation requires a reconciliation with nature, a healing between body and spirit".[11]

Critics largely responded to Pornography and Culture with contempt, many complaining that that it came off as more of a rant than realistic philosophical discussion.[11][12]


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.[13] She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1993[14] for A Chorus of Stones: The Private Life of War.


Responses to Griffin's writings have been varied. Many critics praise her 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. These webs are mirrored in her unique writing style which critics have reflected upon extensively.

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."[15] 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."[16]

Published works

  • Woman and Nature: the Roaring Inside Her (1978) Ecofeminist treatise (1st Edition, has since been reprinted)
  • Rape: The Power of Consciousness (1979) OCLC 781089176 ISBN 0062503502
  • Pornography and Silence: Culture's Revenge Against Nature (1981) OCLC 964062418 ISBN 0704338777
  • "Sadomasochism and the erosion of self: a critical reading of Story of O," in Against Sadomasochism: A Radical Feminist Analysis, ed. Robin Ruth Linden (East Palo Alto, Calif. : Frog in the Well, 1982.), pp. 183–201
  • Unremembered Country: poems (Copper Canyon Press, 1987) OCLC 16905255 ISBN 1556590008
  • A Chorus of Stones: the Private Life of War (1993) Psychological aspects of violence, war, womanhood OCLC 1005479046 ISBN 038541885X
  • The Eros of Everyday Life: Essays on Ecology, Gender and Society (1995) OCLC 924501690 ISBN 0385473907
  • Bending Home: Selected New Poems, 1967-1998 (Copper Canyon Press, 1998) OCLC 245705378 ISBN 1556590865
  • What Her Body Thought: a Journey into the Shadows (1999)
  • The Book of the Courtesans: a Catalogue of Their Virtues (2001)
  • Wrestling with the Angel of Democracy: On Being an American Citizen (2008)
  • Transforming Terror: Remembering the Soul of the World, co-edited with Karen Lofthus Carrington (University of California Press, 2011)


  1. "California Birth Index 1905-1995". FamiySearch. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  2. "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.
  3. "Susan Griffin". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  4. "Susan Griffin". Utne Visionary. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  5. "SUSAN GRIFFIN: FEMININE AND MASCULINE". Pulse Berlin. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  6. "Hear Her Roar: Ecofeminist Author Susan Griffin Isn't Going Away". Cal Alumni Association. 2017-03-28. Retrieved 2018-03-27.
  7. "Bio – Susan Griffin". Retrieved 2016-12-11.
  8. Willis, Ellen. "NATURE'S REVENGE". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  9. 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.
  10. Griffin, Susan. "Pornography and Silence: Culture's Revenge Against Nature". Harper & Row. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  11. Willis, Ellen. "NATURE'S REVENGE". Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  12. WOMAN AND NATURE: The Roaring Inside Her by Susan Griffin | Kirkus Reviews.
  13. "'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.
  14. "The Pulitzer Prizes: General Nonfiction". Pulitzer.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
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