Susan Griffin Biography Essay, Research Paper
Susan Griffin was born on January 26, 1943, Los Angeles, California the second daughter of Walden and Sarah (Colvin) Griffin.
Susan Griffin has 25 years of human services experience, with degrees in child development, music, psychology and behavioral science. She is completing her Ph.D. in clinical psychology with an emphasis in child and family. She has specialized training in parenting, child development, substance abuse, and music/art work with children.
In addition to 25 years of work as an advocate and activist in the human services field, Ms. Griffin is a parent, stepparent, licensed radio operator, amateur herpetologist, and horsewoman, songwriter, artist, and poet and short story writer.
She is the Executive Director and co-founder of Real Solutions for Children & Families at the Griffin & Wong Institute for Education & Training, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching children, parents, and communities the skills essential to reduce violence and abuse towards self and others both in this generation and the next. Real Solutions at Griffin & Wong provides education and support services to families and communities in transition caused by: divorce/separation; custody/visitation disputes; substance abuse; mental illness; domestic violence; and/or child abuse/neglect.
Ms. Griffin is a noted speaker with experience in radio, television and newspaper, which is sought after for her wonderful blend of warmth, humor, straightforwardness and richness of content. Ms. Griffin is co-author, with her son’s father, of “Co-parenting For The Sake of The Kids.” She is also author of a series of articles called “The ABC’s of Parenting”; and a book entitled “The Healing Circle of Stones: A Positive Force for Transformation of Self and Community.” Stones groups are held at the Institute as well as in treatment and recovery centers throughout the country.
In her 30 plus year writing career Susan Griffin has embraced poetry, drama, and nonfiction, but her earliest love was the movies. “I grew up right near Hollywood,” she says, “and I wanted to be a filmmaker. I loved Dissentient and his montages, that juxtaposition of images.”
Susan Griffin weaves webs of words that capture the complex interrelationships among the body, history, language, memory, and politics. In book-length prose meditations on the historical fate of the female body, “Woman and Nature”, pornography “Pornography and Silence”, and war “A Chorus of Stones”. Griffin combines the personal and the political with a poet’s eye for illuminating and unexpected juxtapositions, and a humanist’s faith in the power of the word to heal.
Griffin has preserved that love in a series of books that bring seemingly disparate images and ideas of sex, history, violence, the human body, the family, and the self-together into montage fields that generate new ideas and freshen old ones. In Woman and Nature (1978) she layered harrowing historical documents into a meditation on Western culture’s habit of victimizing women and the natural world in parallel ways. In Pornography and Silence (1981) she interpreted porn as a way for men to deny in them the qualities they “see” in pornographic images of women wantonness, passivity, sexual hunger. And in A Chorus of Stones (1992) she used stories from her family, the history of the
American nuclear industry, and the biography of Joseph Goebbels to reflect on the complicity of silence and violence. A book of essays and a meditation on illness is in the works.
By refusing to respect the “commonsense” distinctions among historical, social, and personal issues, Griffin creates a kind of network of meaning in which everything illuminates everything else. And she sees a similar network awareness emerging in the world.
“Twenty-five years ago we saw many different movements for social change around women’s issues, racism, civil liberties, anti-war sentiment, and ecology,” she says. “They were often in conflict with each other. But what’s becoming clearer now are strong strategic reasons for putting all the struggles together.” She cites New Guinea, where transnational corporations threaten not only native livelihood and the environment, but social structures and spiritual health as well.
Griffin’s close attention to the body and its place in history and society “physical existence is meaningful in itself,” she says allows her to make sharp distinctions between what is and isn’t “natural.” “How much worse can it get,” she asks, “than children killing children? Yet there are lots of reasons why males are violent, and they have more to do with tradition than testosterone. Masculinity is a terrible problem, as we construe it and shape it.”
Susan Griffin’s complex personal identity Gentile born adoptive child of a Jewish family, wife and mother who then came out as a lesbian makes her what she calls a “bridge figure” and a particularly sensitive observer of the price we pay for maintaining illusory boundaries. “For example: I’d like these terms man and woman to be less important,” she Says. “Gender is a way to hide from the simple truth we all tell, Hey, I’m here, I have a body.”
Griffin, Susan. Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her. New York: Harper and Row, 1978.
Griffin, Susan. 1981. Pornography and Silence: Culture’s Revenge Against Nature (New York: Harper and Row).
A Celebration of Women Writers: Mary Mark Ockerbloom 1994-1998
Real Solutions for Families & Communities: Griffin & Wong Institute. 1998.