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Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan led a remarkable life that was atypical for women, even in modern society. Duncan eschewed conventions concerning motherhood and marriage, and travelled the world in her quest to perfect her art--the dance. Duncan exhibited both similarities and dissimilarities to Kate Millett's description of women in Sexual Politics.

Millett (1970) blames the patriarchal bias of society for the subordination of women, the family unit serving as the foundation of such beliefs. In her estimation, "Serving as an agent of the larger society, the family not only encourages its own members to adjust and conform, but acts as a unit in the government of the patriarchal state which rules its citizens through its family heads" (Millett, 1970, p. 33). Isadora Duncan's rebellion against traditional female roles perhaps stemmed from the fact that her own family had no patriarchal head. Duncan's mother was a devout Irish Catholic with four children. She divorced Duncan's father, opting to raise the children on her own. Duncan rarely saw her father, but was deeply impressed by the injustices of marital relations. At the age of 12, she decided, " . . . to fight against marriage and for the emancipation of women and for the right for every woman to have a child or children as it pleased her, and to uphold her right and her virtue" (Duncan, 1927, p. 17).

Although subjected to an early life of financial hardship, Duncan advocated that both men and women equally benefitted from accepting economic challenges. She pitied the children she taught who were the recipients of inherited wealth as it served only to dampen their ambitions. In her words, "The finest inheritance you can give to a child is to allow it to make its own way, completely on its own feet" (Duncan, 1927, p. 21). As such, Duncan did not fit the mold of what Millett (1970) refers to as the marginalization of women's economic lives. In general, society distrusts women's econom...

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Isadora Duncan. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 00:50, May 25, 2020, from