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How to Suppress Women's Writing

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By the author of The Female Man, a provocative survey of the forces that work against women who dare to write. "She didn't write it. She wrote it but she shouldn't have. She wrote it but look what she wrote about. She wrote it but she isn't really an artist, and it isn't really art. She wrote it but she had help. She wrote it but she's an anomaly. She wrote it BUT..." How t By the author of The Female Man, a provocative survey of the forces that work against women who dare to write. "She didn't write it. She wrote it but she shouldn't have. She wrote it but look what she wrote about. She wrote it but she isn't really an artist, and it isn't really art. She wrote it but she had help. She wrote it but she's an anomaly. She wrote it BUT..." How to Suppress Women's Writing is a meticulously researched and humorously written "guidebook" to the many ways women and other "minorities" have been barred from producing written art. In chapters entitled "Prohibitions," "Bad Faith," "Denial of Agency," Pollution of Agency," "The Double Standard of Content," "False Categorization," "Isolation," "Anomalousness," "Lack of Models," Responses," and "Aesthetics" Joanna Russ names, defines, and illustrates those barriers to art-making we may have felt but which tend to remain unnamed and thus insolvable.


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By the author of The Female Man, a provocative survey of the forces that work against women who dare to write. "She didn't write it. She wrote it but she shouldn't have. She wrote it but look what she wrote about. She wrote it but she isn't really an artist, and it isn't really art. She wrote it but she had help. She wrote it but she's an anomaly. She wrote it BUT..." How t By the author of The Female Man, a provocative survey of the forces that work against women who dare to write. "She didn't write it. She wrote it but she shouldn't have. She wrote it but look what she wrote about. She wrote it but she isn't really an artist, and it isn't really art. She wrote it but she had help. She wrote it but she's an anomaly. She wrote it BUT..." How to Suppress Women's Writing is a meticulously researched and humorously written "guidebook" to the many ways women and other "minorities" have been barred from producing written art. In chapters entitled "Prohibitions," "Bad Faith," "Denial of Agency," Pollution of Agency," "The Double Standard of Content," "False Categorization," "Isolation," "Anomalousness," "Lack of Models," Responses," and "Aesthetics" Joanna Russ names, defines, and illustrates those barriers to art-making we may have felt but which tend to remain unnamed and thus insolvable.

30 review for How to Suppress Women's Writing

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lois Bujold

    This classic book was written 40 years ago; it hasn't aged much. Still pertinent. And wonderfully jargon-free and lucid, like western mountain light. I'd been meaning to read this book for years, but was too busy writing to get around to it. Happily, I lived in such cultural isolation that I didn't get the memo about what women shouldn't write myself, but I've certainly seen it handed out since then, variously, lately in assorted fascinating erasures. The book seems to have started (but not finis This classic book was written 40 years ago; it hasn't aged much. Still pertinent. And wonderfully jargon-free and lucid, like western mountain light. I'd been meaning to read this book for years, but was too busy writing to get around to it. Happily, I lived in such cultural isolation that I didn't get the memo about what women shouldn't write myself, but I've certainly seen it handed out since then, variously, lately in assorted fascinating erasures. The book seems to have started (but not finished) with concerns about women writers being shut out of the academic literary canon, and asks less Why? than the less obvious and, as it turns out, more revealing question, How? The lit canon has doubtless moved on since then. Maybe? Although if they're still presenting The Catcher in the Rye as literature pertinent to high schoolers, maybe not -- that 1951 novel, set in the late 40s about the time I was being born, was utterly alien to me even back in the mid-60s. There is, of course, a whole world of books written by and for women with little to no quarter given to what male critics want -- romance, which Russ manages to not mention here. I think this is in part prudence, but certainly in part the fact that the Romance genre has exploded since 1975, with much of its modern development taking place after this extended essay was written. (And a second and even more interesting creative explosion since the internet and e-books routed around all the regular publishing gatekeepers.) Fanfic, likewise a largely female preserve enabled by the internet, is likewise an arena where the wildest literary experiments are currently proliferating. There does not seem to be an e-edition of the Russ currently available -- someone at U. of Texas Press should fix that forthwith -- but a paper edition can still be had, here: http://utpress.utexas.edu/index.php/b... I do recall reading one or two of Russ's early SF novels back in the 70s, but I'm not sure I "got" them at the time. Might be time for a rematch. As an interesting historical note, I have been told that Russ's first purchasing SF editor was Jim Baen, so we have that in common. Ta, L.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey

    To act in a way that is both sexist and racist, to maintain one's class privilege, it is only necessary to act in the customary, ordinary, usual, even polite manner. I haven't allowed Goodreads users to follow me for a while now. After years of letting the silent hundreds accumulate behind me out of some misguided belief that likes for my reviews was what I was all about, I figured out that generating free content for an unresponsive audience drains like nothing else. Even now, when I am far le To act in a way that is both sexist and racist, to maintain one's class privilege, it is only necessary to act in the customary, ordinary, usual, even polite manner. I haven't allowed Goodreads users to follow me for a while now. After years of letting the silent hundreds accumulate behind me out of some misguided belief that likes for my reviews was what I was all about, I figured out that generating free content for an unresponsive audience drains like nothing else. Even now, when I am far less interested in getting others to read what I read and far more in making them squirm, all I get through the friend requests is an interest in my reviews (without having engaged with any of them), a comment on my group's potential for advertising (without joining the group), some bullshit confabulation that attests more than anything to the common feeling of entitlement to content on the Internet that comes without a paywall. I've got it all laid out in my 'About Me', people. If it's apolitical Entertainment that you're looking for where I trundle along on my side of the bond and you don't do shit on the other: bye. Motives for the dismissal differ: habit, laziness, reliance on history or criticism that is already corrupt, ignorance (the most excusable of all, surely), the desire not to disturb the comfort based on that ignorance (much less excusable), the dim (or not-so-dim) perception that one's self-esteem or sex-based interests are at stake, the desire to stay within an all-male, all-white club that is, whatever its drawbacks, familiar and comfortable, sometimes the clear perception that letting outsiders into the club, economically or otherwise, will disturb the structure of quid pro quo that keeps the club going. Either you know what I'm talking about with this review or you don't. Either you're going to make an effort to figure out what I'm talking about with this review or you won't. It's really quite simple. This book isn't a good place to start, and it most certainly is not the best place to find resolution, but in terms of midway points after you've read the Delany and the Villette and the Rich and the pre-1600 women's writing and the pre-1200 non-European women's writing and the Baldwin and the Hurston and have hardcore committed to expanding your handhold in the likes of this cause you will forever know that you know nothing, it's decent. Bits and pieces that the sort of mewlers and pukers that boycott the latest Star Wars movie for black people and send death threats to those building monuments in memory of women slaughtered for being feminists fear above all else are here, thirty-three years previous. The canon's a lie, but it's a hell of a lot easier to deal with those who demand you be their mother in every argument if you've got a nice sized tome with hundreds of citations and no shits given to stuff in various orifices. [I]t becomes clear that a woman must be extraordinary to outlive her generation—and a man need not. Two major issues I have with this is the juxtaposition of the minutae of Middle Class White English with everyone else who's not a White Male and, as expected, flagrant use of the sanity card. For the first, if you're going to characterize your -centrism, do it before the second to last section of your rhetorical breakdown and the first time you pull in a person of color to support your theory without supporting them. The end section with your self-satisfied description of how much reading you did as a poor widdle white girl about the struggle of Women of Color is real cute, but in contrast to the professional sections of a new type of criticism it comes off as a hack job. Second, the sanity card jesus fuck. You feel the need to imply that all people who reinforce the white supremacist patriarchy belong in straitjackets? Fine. Stop fucking around with Plath. You need to use schizophrenia as your own personal metaphor of power? Fine. Look up some details about how the condition literally eats at your brain so you can really get a feel for the people you're boxing in as a trope for your own ignorant purposes. You want to appeal to fellow feminists by throwing mentally disabled people like me under the bus? Fine. All your followers are eugenicists, cause mental disabilities include the concept of "idiocy" as well as "crazy". Now: how far do you think your social justice is going to get? The idea that any art is achieved "intuitively" is a dehumanization of the brains, effort, and the traditions of the artist, and a classification of said artist as subhuman. Good quote, piss poor execution. Nice cross referencing of all those British and American and Canadian types (Russ would be pleased to know about Munro's winning of the Nobel for Lit), bad attempt at being "inclusive". Excellent commentary on the academic side of things that'll come in handy when I set forth on my own in those calcified halls of criticism, bordering on grotesque clumping of everything wrong with the world in the box of "delusional" and "stupid". I recommend this to people who have already formed a stronghold of anti-imperialist/anti-tokenism/anti-ableist fronts that won't be swept away by all the quotes and name drops. Using this as a beginning isn't worth how much will have to be unpacked later on.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ginger K

    After years of running across references to How to Suppress Women's Writing, I have finally read it. (The timing on my acquiring and reading the book and my involvement in certain online arguments that I've stumbled upon lately about how sexism really still exists, no, really is probably not coincidental.) ANYWAY. About the book. First off, it's a lit crit book with everything that that implies. For those of us without the heavy-duty lit background, this means the reading will be slow. Interestin After years of running across references to How to Suppress Women's Writing, I have finally read it. (The timing on my acquiring and reading the book and my involvement in certain online arguments that I've stumbled upon lately about how sexism really still exists, no, really is probably not coincidental.) ANYWAY. About the book. First off, it's a lit crit book with everything that that implies. For those of us without the heavy-duty lit background, this means the reading will be slow. Interesting, yes. Easy, no. The references/allusions/name-checks come fast and furious, but if, like me, you've never read, say Margaret Cavendish? The frequent citations of her work that assume a certain level of familiarity will be frustrating. Keep going. It's worth it. It's worth figuring out what gets left out or deemed unworthy and how -- and asking why. Because A mode of understanding life which willfully ignores so much can do so only at the peril of thoroughly distorting the rest. A mode of understanding literature which can ignore the private lives of half the human race is not "incomplete"; it is distorted through and through. Feminist criticism of the early 1970s began by pointing out the simplist of these distortions, that is, that the female characters of even our greatest realistic "classics" by male writers are often not individualized portraits of possible women, but creations of fear and desire. Each chapter picks apart a tool/belief that keeps women's writing invisible and excluded from the Canon. Misattribution. Impropriety of subject matter. Unimportance of subject matter. False categorization (or judging pieces against the standards of a genre they don't belong to). Exceptionalism. Isolation from (feminine) influences. Denial of agency. And while the title clearly sets these obstacles up as something deliberate... the text itself does a fantastic job of showing how these beliefs permeate culture, how the ideas embed themselves in the minds of essentially well-intentioned critics/authors/readers, men and women alike. She periodically points out how these same tools of suppression are used to deny a literary history to other marginalized groups -- she may have set out to expose the tools of sexism, but they are also the tools of racism and colonialism and heterosexism and classism and... In fact, in the afterward of my edition, Russ acknowledged that she'd fallen into the same traps set along racial lines and added an "idiosyncratic" collection of quotes from literary works by members of minority groups that had been similarly ignored and excluded by the gatekeepers of Literature, including herself-as-critic.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    What an education! This book had a huge influence on me as a young writer, an introduction to a conversation that continues to this day, the ways in which the world has tripped up the creative woman, diminished her, sidetracked and sidelined her. In the process, the book rescues many of these neglected artists from oblivion. (I'm reminded very much of the similar project in women's visual arts that resulted in the founding of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, the rescue What an education! This book had a huge influence on me as a young writer, an introduction to a conversation that continues to this day, the ways in which the world has tripped up the creative woman, diminished her, sidetracked and sidelined her. In the process, the book rescues many of these neglected artists from oblivion. (I'm reminded very much of the similar project in women's visual arts that resulted in the founding of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, the rescue of so many women artists who have been diminished, suppressed, erased.) Learned a great deal about the world I was entering and the many pitfalls, the outrageous ways in which women are silenced. It made me angry and it also made me cannier about the ways to withstand some of the slings and arrows, prepare to defend my own work, and that of my sisters. A literary RiotGirrrrl treasure. Went in an interesting way with "Women of Iron and Velvet," about French women writers, by Margaret Crosland. So glad I read this early on in my writing life.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hadrian

    This book is a satirical guide on ignoring or reducing the contribution of women in literature, although the basic principles could apply to other repressed groups and other forms of media. Although Russ lists these as discrete concepts, she describes them as building upon each other. e.g., because there are so few 'classic' women writers, women are not expected to be writers. Or even if they try, their contributions are ignored because of some personal issue or of the difference of the subject This book is a satirical guide on ignoring or reducing the contribution of women in literature, although the basic principles could apply to other repressed groups and other forms of media. Although Russ lists these as discrete concepts, she describes them as building upon each other. e.g., because there are so few 'classic' women writers, women are not expected to be writers. Or even if they try, their contributions are ignored because of some personal issue or of the difference of the subject matter.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ingenue

    This should be required reading for all humans. If reading it doesn't make you angry, you're not paying attention.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emma Sea

    It's uncanny how 30 years after writing the same shit still gets said about women artists and writers. A great classic text.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Utterly fucking brilliant. I hesitate to be melodramatic, but it's been a few weeks now, I've renewed it from the university library twice, and I may not be over-stating the case to say that this is one of the books that changes my life. It's genuinely altered how I think about criticism, I've got a to-read list that tripled in the period I was reading it, and I've been arguing with professors and blog commenters in a really different way than I used to. It just -- the experience of reading it w Utterly fucking brilliant. I hesitate to be melodramatic, but it's been a few weeks now, I've renewed it from the university library twice, and I may not be over-stating the case to say that this is one of the books that changes my life. It's genuinely altered how I think about criticism, I've got a to-read list that tripled in the period I was reading it, and I've been arguing with professors and blog commenters in a really different way than I used to. It just -- the experience of reading it was overwhelming in the very best way.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Misha

    Joanna Russ' HOW TO SUPPRESS WOMEN'S WRITING was published in 1983, but so, so much of its content speaks to today. Russ also understood institutionalized racism and sexism and privilege in ways that sound like dialogue happening now: "Conscious, conspiratorial guilt? Hardly. Privileged groups, like everyone else, want to think well of themselves and to believe that they are acting generously and justly. Conscious conspiracy would either quickly stop, or it would degenerate into the kind of unple Joanna Russ' HOW TO SUPPRESS WOMEN'S WRITING was published in 1983, but so, so much of its content speaks to today. Russ also understood institutionalized racism and sexism and privilege in ways that sound like dialogue happening now: "Conscious, conspiratorial guilt? Hardly. Privileged groups, like everyone else, want to think well of themselves and to believe that they are acting generously and justly. Conscious conspiracy would either quickly stop, or it would degenerate into the kind of unpleasant, armed, cold war with which white South Africa must live. Genuine ignorance? Certainly that is sometimes the case. But talk about sexism or racism must distinguish between the sins of commission of the real, active misogynist or bigot and the vague, half-conscious sins of omission of the decent, ordinary, even good-hearted people, which sins the context of institutionalized sexism and racism makes all too easy. I hesitate to mention this social dimension of sexism, racism, and class since it can be so easily used as an escape hatch by those too tired, too annoyed, too harried, or too uncomfortable to want to change. But it is true that although people are responsible for their actions, they are not responsible for the social context in which they must act or the social resources available to them. All of us must perforce accept large chunks of our culture ready-made; there is not enough energy and time to do otherwise. Even so, the results of such nonthought can be appalling. At the level of high culture with which this book is concerned, active bigotry is probably fairly rare. It is also hardly ever necessary (italics), since the social context is so far from neutral. To act in a way that is both sexist and racist, to maintain one's class privilege, it is only necessary to act in the customary, ordinary, usual, even polite manner." (18) "The techniques for mystifying women's lives and belittling women's writing that I have described work by suppressing context: writing is separated from experience, women writers are separated from their tradition and each other, public is separated from private, political from personal--all to enforce a supposed set of absolute standards. What is frightening about black art or women's art or Chicano art--and so on--is that it calls into question the very idea of objectivity and absolute standards: This is a good novel. Good for what? Good for whom? One side of the nightmare is that a privileged group will not recognize that 'other' art, will not be able to judge it, that the superiority of taste and training possessed by the privileged critic and the privileged artist will suddenly vanish. The other side of the nightmare is not what is found in the 'other' art will be incomprehensible, but that it will be all too familiar. That is: Women's lives are the buried truth about men's lives. The lives of people of color are the buried truth about white lives. The buried truth about the rich is who they take their money from and how. The buried truth about 'normal' sexuality is how one kind of sexual expression has been made privileged, and what kinds of unearned virtue and terrors about identity this distinction serves." (118-19)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlin

    This book was full of interesting ideas but the academic style made it a little more complicated and hard to focus on for a long time (at least for me - predominantly a fiction reader). Whilst I did agree with a lot of what Russ mentioned and cited within this essay, I found the early chapters a little dated and somewhat changed in todays world, but the later chapters were far more relevant. This looks at the suppression and erasure of women's writing within history. We don't have many female rol This book was full of interesting ideas but the academic style made it a little more complicated and hard to focus on for a long time (at least for me - predominantly a fiction reader). Whilst I did agree with a lot of what Russ mentioned and cited within this essay, I found the early chapters a little dated and somewhat changed in todays world, but the later chapters were far more relevant. This looks at the suppression and erasure of women's writing within history. We don't have many female role models within SFF or the larger literary world, and this is why... Russ breaks the reasons down into various different headings such as 'she did this BUT ...' and then each chapter discusses an element of erasure, suppression or exception. Russ' use of quotes and examples from literature are definitely well chosen and I think every quote she chose was very relevant to the point she was making. I will admit that, not having done and english course or degree myself, I didn't/hadn't read many of the authors she cited, but some were bigger names, and some were women who have faded into nothing thanks to history... The biggest thing to take away from this for me is that this is a book about erasure of women's work, but it's a solid examination of the things to watch out for, stay far away from, and the ladies who managed to succeed despite the odds and the people to look up to. Sadly, this book is actually out of print (the irony.....) but if you can find it second hand and spend a few moments mulling over the examples and reasons given (and then maybe hash out/chat about some of the ideas with two of your best lady friends for better understanding) then it's well worth a read. Overall, a very solid and interesting book, and one which is very quote-worthy! 3*s

  11. 4 out of 5

    B.R. Sanders

    For reasons both good and bad, HOW TO SUPPRESS WOMEN'S WRITING by Joanna Russ reads like it could have been written yesterday. Actually, the book is older than me—published in 1983—but Russ’ smirking, clear-eyed perspective is still relevant. HOW TO SUPPRESS WOMEN'S WRITING investigates historical and social reasons that may have kept whole generations of women from writing in the first place (things like differential rates of literacy, disparate access to education, women’s historical lack of le For reasons both good and bad, HOW TO SUPPRESS WOMEN'S WRITING by Joanna Russ reads like it could have been written yesterday. Actually, the book is older than me—published in 1983—but Russ’ smirking, clear-eyed perspective is still relevant. HOW TO SUPPRESS WOMEN'S WRITING investigates historical and social reasons that may have kept whole generations of women from writing in the first place (things like differential rates of literacy, disparate access to education, women’s historical lack of leisure time and position as wife as a second work shift). She also interrogates how it is that when women somehow do manage to write that women’s writing is ignored, slandered or undercut. The book was published by the University of Texas Press, which puts it squarely in the realm of academic works, but the writing is colloquial and accessible throughout. You do not need to be steeped in literary criticism or feminist theory to read and understand Russ’ arguments here, which is a great strength. She argues that what is considered “good” or “worthy” literature (and by extension, that which is taught and thus survives across generations) is designated as such by privileged groups who have a vested interest in keeping themselves privileged. The ways in which they limit entrance or access to literature are by mental acrobatics such as assuming women writers didn’t really write their works, or that it doesn’t matter if they wrote it because it’s the wrong kind of work, or that maybe they wrote it and maybe it’s good but it’s the only good thing she ever wrote. Some of this is deliberate, but just as much is unconscious bias. Each chapter is broken into one tactic that has been used to suppress women’s writing, and Russ packs her chapters full of anecdotes, survey results, and historical examples to support her claims. And, somehow, she does it with a wry and witty voice that makes the writing lively. Still, the book is not a perfect one. It’s centered very squarely on white middle class women’s experiences. Russ occasionally throws in an anecdote about her friend and colleague, Samuel Delany, a Black scifi writer, but he himself is tokenized in the doing. Clearly throughout the text she attempts to draw parallels between gendered exclusions in literary circles and race-based exclusions, but Delany pops up over and over again as if he is the only Black writer she knows (and as if Black writers are the only voices who can counterpart the voices of white writers). White lesbian authors pop up far more frequently than writers of color, and women writers of color are virtually never mentioned in the main body of the text. This lack of intersectional focus irked me while I read it—it’s such a good book, and also such a clear example of the failings of second wave feminism. Russ uses the Afterword to acknowledge her failing here, directly addressing her unfamiliarity with and inability to capture the struggles of women writers of color. She talks about stumbling across a beautiful, rich treasure trove of writing by women of color—a parallel canon, as it were—which unintentional struck me as fetishizing and exoticizing of women of color’s experiences.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Should be required reading for feminists, for book lovers, for writers, and for those who don't believe women or minorities are underrepresented in the world of art. Russ understood intersections and isn't afraid to acknowledge them while staying in her own lane, and the things she says about gender and class are really insightful...and so easily overlooked or ignored in greater discussions of literature. The big take away for me was in the end, about how women's work is done in the vernacular, Should be required reading for feminists, for book lovers, for writers, and for those who don't believe women or minorities are underrepresented in the world of art. Russ understood intersections and isn't afraid to acknowledge them while staying in her own lane, and the things she says about gender and class are really insightful...and so easily overlooked or ignored in greater discussions of literature. The big take away for me was in the end, about how women's work is done in the vernacular, and how it's the vernacular that's on the peripheries, and how being in the center is dead space, and thus to work toward a bigger, broader world of literature, you gotta get outta the center and work on the peripheries (this, of course, extends to work by minorities, too, which she addresses very clearly). Another thing that I really found in here to resonate was the idea of women reading and sharing the work of women with the understanding -- implicit -- that there aren't role models for what they're doing or want to do, so they have to find those role models themselves. That means there's not necessarily a shared history or understanding of experience; it's scatter shot, even though it's common. This was particularly interesting in my own thinking about how Russ says so many things I've thought myself: that men are overrepresented, the ways we diminish the work of women by trying to compare it to men, how men will speak louder and harsher to not just be heard but to suppress, the subtle and insidious ways we erase the stories of women, and no matter how much work is done toward the goal of "adding more women," it also means adding more men and thus, the percentages of representation don't actually change. I know Russ isn't the only person who has said this, but this book is marked deep because she said it in a way I'd thought and believed...and it was one of those reading experiences that I'll be carrying with me BECAUSE it was like finding that brain twin, like finding that voice I'd been craving to hear that said the things I'd thought. Read it. Then do something.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    A quick and lucid sketch of how women’s writing is suppressed, starting with a science fiction analogy that works quite well. Things are better now, thirty years on, but I’ve seen a lot of the moves she cataloged used to silence people. Once in a great while, a friend of a friend will try to use one on me in some social media habitat or another. Generally with hilarious results. It’s good to be a lawyer. Spends a great deal of time discussing the works of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle A quick and lucid sketch of how women’s writing is suppressed, starting with a science fiction analogy that works quite well. Things are better now, thirty years on, but I’ve seen a lot of the moves she cataloged used to silence people. Once in a great while, a friend of a friend will try to use one on me in some social media habitat or another. Generally with hilarious results. It’s good to be a lawyer. Spends a great deal of time discussing the works of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, tying it tightly in my head to Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. This pleases me. Favorite quotes: “[T]he absence of formal prohibitions against committing art does not preclude the presence of powerful, informal ones. For example, poverty and lack of leisure are certainly powerful deterrents to art: most nineteenth century British factory workers, enduring a fourteen-hour day, were unlikely to spend a lifetime in rigorously perfecting the sonnet.” (6) “Privileged groups, like everyone else, want to think well of themselves and to believe that they are acting generously and justly: Conscious conspiracy would either quickly stop, or it would degenerated into the kind of unpleasant, armed, cold war with which white South Africa must live. Genuine ignorance? Certainly that is sometimes the case. But commission of the real, active misogynist or bigot and the vague, half-conscious sins of omission of the decent, ordinary, even good hearted people, which sins in the context of institutionalized sexism and racism makes all to easy.” (18). “But it is true that although people are responsible for their actions, they are not responsible for the social context in which they must act or the social resources available to them. All of us must perforce accept large chunks of our culture ready made; there is not enough energy and time to do otherwise.” (18) “Ignorance is not bad faith. But persistence in ignorance is.” (46) Well worth the time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mo

    Fantastic, concise, and well-structured exposé of the many ways in which women's and minority writing has been and continues to be suppressed and marginalized. Russ not only puts into clear language things you've heard, known, vaguely understood your whole life, she also offers numerous starting points for digging into the world of forgotten and ignored women's literature. I'm diving into Villette immediately.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    An excellent companion or follow-up to Virginia Woolf's Room of One's Own, Joanna Russ's work goes much deeper, offering a thorough overview and critique of the ways women's place in literature is prevented, denied, and dismissed. ____________________ QUOTES If certain people are not supposed to have the ability to produce ‘great’ literature, and if this supposition is one of the means used to keep such people in their place, the ideal situation (socially speaking) is one in which such people are p An excellent companion or follow-up to Virginia Woolf's Room of One's Own, Joanna Russ's work goes much deeper, offering a thorough overview and critique of the ways women's place in literature is prevented, denied, and dismissed. ____________________ QUOTES If certain people are not supposed to have the ability to produce ‘great’ literature, and if this supposition is one of the means used to keep such people in their place, the ideal situation (socially speaking) is one in which such people are prevented from producing any literature at all. But a formal prohibition tends to give the game away […] In a nominally egalitarian society the ideal situation (socially speaking) is one in which members of the ‘wrong’ groups have the freedom to engage in literature (or equally significant activities) and yet do not do so, thus proving that they can’t. But, alas, give them the least real freedom and they will do it. The trick thus becomes to make the freedom as nominal a freedom as possible and then—since some of the so-and-so’s will do it anyway—develop various strategies for ignoring, condemning, or belittling the artistic works that result. If properly done, these strategies result in a social situation in which the ‘wrong’ people are (supposedly) free to commit literature, art, or whatever, but very few do, and those who do (it seems) do it badly, so we can all go home to lunch. The methods indicated above are varied but tend to occur in certain key areas: informal prohibitions (including discouragement and the inaccessibility of materials and training), denying the authorship of the work in question (this ploy ranges from simple misattribution to psychological subtleties that make the head spin), belittlement of the work itself in various ways, isolation of the work from the tradition to which it belongs and its consequent presentation as anomalous, assertions that the work indicates the author’s bad character and hence is of primarily scandalous interest or ought not to have been done at all (this did not end with the nineteenth century), and simply ignoring the works, the workers, and the whole tradition, the most commonly employed technique and the hardest to combat. pp. 4–5 [Active bigotry] is hardly ever necessary, since the social context is so far from neutral. To act in a way that is both sexist and racist, to maintain one’s class privilege, it is only necessary to act in the customary, ordinary, usual, even polite manner. p. 18 Perhaps the most daunting of all is the discovery that the same message can be conveyed by the very high culture to which the neophyte artist aspires. Novelists’ female characters, like painters’ female nudes, can discourage. Lee R. Edwards, a contemporary scholar, recalling her college education, says flatly: ‘… since [no] women whose acquaintance I had made in fiction had much to do with the life I led or wanted to lead, I was not female … if Molly Bloom was a woman, what was I? A mutant or a dinosaur.’ And here is Adrienne Rich: all those poems about women, written by men: it seemed to be a given that men wrote poems and women … inhabited them. These women were almost always beautiful, but threatened with the loss of beauty, the loss of youth … Or they were beautiful and died young, like Lucy and Lenore. Or … cruel … and the poem reproached her because she had refused to become a luxury for the poet … the girl or woman who tries to write … is peculiarly susceptible to language. She goes to poetry or fiction looking for her way of being in the world … she is looking eagerly for guides, maps, possibilities; and over and over … she comes up against something that negates everything she is about … She finds a terror and a dream … La Belle Dame Sans Merci … but precisely what she does not find is that absorbed, drudging, puzzled, sometimes inspiring creature, herself. Cultural messages can obliterate even the concrete evidence of female experience recorded by female artists and do so very young. Novelist Samuel Delany reports a conversation with a twelve-year-old who ‘had devoured all six books of Jean Rhys; she is a pretty bright kid!’ Me: What kind of books do you like? Livy: Oh, well…. you know. Books about people. Me: Can you think of any women characters in the books you read that you particularly like? Livy: Oh, I never read books about women! The tragic point is that even a twelve-year-old already knows that women are not people. pp. 14–15 The Double Standard of Content is perhaps the fundamental weapon in the armory and in a sense the most innocent, for men and women, whites and people of color do have very different experiences of life and one would expect such differences to be reflected in their art. I wish to emphasize here that I am not talking (vis-à-vis sex) about the relatively small area of biology—about this kind of difference in experience, men are often curious and genuinely interested—but about socially-enforced differences. The trick in the double standard of content is to label one set of experiences as more valuable and important than the other. p. 40 Years later another white, male colleague rejected a short story of mine (sent him at his request for a magazine he was editing) explicitly on the grounds that it did not accurately represent the options open to a female adolescent of the 1950s (a subject he presumably knew more about than I did). p. 46 The assignment of genre can also function as false categorizing, especially when work appears to fall between established genres and can thereby be assigned to either (and then called an imperfect example of it) or chided for belonging to neither. In 1971 three white women (one of whom told me this story) were putting together a course in the contemporary novel for a small, western college. Hesitating between James Baldwin and George Orwell, they finally rejected the former and included the latter, despite the fact that Baldwin was a fellow-countryman of their students and could presumably speak more directly to them than the British Orwell. But Baldwin (they said) was not a novelist. This judgment is especially striking in that the mixture of fiction and non-fiction in the works of both is almost identical. But one cannot teach Baldwin’s work without dealing with American racism and homophobia, while Orwell’s dislike of British imperialism is safely distant and much of his work can be taught (inaccurately) as anti-Communist. How much easier it was, rather than confronting one’s own fear and discomfort, to make the apparently ‘neutral’ judgment that Orwell is a novelist; Baldwin is not a novelist. p. 53 Although crammed with facts and references, it has the wrong style; it is personal and sounds unscholarly, a charge often levelled at modern feminist writing. That is, the tone is not impersonal, detached, and dry enough—in short, not patriarchal enough—to produce belief. p. 75 Tokenism is … found whenever a dominant group is under pressure to share privilege, power, or other desirable commodities with a group which is excluded. … tokenism advertises a promise of mobility which is severely restricted in quantity. … the Token does not become assimilated into the dominant group, but is destined for permanent marginality … p. 84, quoting Judith Long Laws, “The Psychology of Tokenism: An Analysis”(Sex Roles, I:1 (1975): 51) The idea that any art is achieved ‘intuitively’ is a dehumanization of the brains, effort, and the traditions of the artist, and a classification of said effort, and the traditions of the artist, and a classification of said artist as subhuman. It is those supposed incapable of intelligence, training, or connection with a tradition who are described as working by instinct or intuition. Thus ‘Negro spirituals’ can be enjoyed without being respected, as Untermeyer does. Even Woolf can say of Rossetti: ‘You were an instinctive poet’ and ‘her verses seemed to have formed themselves whole and entire in her head.’ With Mozart, this kind of creation means the facility and ease of a genius; with Rossetti it becomes a kind of intuition. p. 91 If you are a woman and wish to become pre-eminent in a field, it’s a good idea to (a) invent it and (b) locate it in an area either so badly paid or of such low status that men don’t want it. p. 101 The re-evaluation and rediscovery of minority art (including the cultural minority of women) is often conceived as a matter of remedying injustice and exclusiveness through doing justice to individual artists by allowing their work into the canon, which will thereby be more complete, but fundamentally unchanged. Sometimes it’s also stressed that the erasing of previous injustice will encourage new artists of the hitherto ‘wrong’ groups and thus provide art with more artists who will provide new (or different) material—and that all of this activity will enrich, but not change, the canon of art itself. But in the case of women, what has been left out? ‘Merely,’ says Carolyn Kizer, ‘the private lives of one-half of humanity.’ … A mode of understanding life which willfully ignores so much can so do only at the peril of thoroughly distorting the rest. A mode of understanding literature which can ignore the private lives of half the human race is not ‘incomplete’; it is distorted through and through. pp. 110–11 Women speaking of mirrors and prettiness make it all too clear that even for pretty women, mirrors are the foci of anxious, not gratified, narcissism. The woman who knows beyond a doubt that she is beautiful exists aplenty in male novelists’ imaginations; I have yet to find her in women’s books or women’s memoirs or in life. p. 111–12 Elsewhere she states one of the central problems of feminist criticism: What happens to one’s definition of aesthetic criteria … when one is confronted by a literature which does not support the self but assaults it? p. 113, quoting Judith Fetterley (December 1975) …in pretending to stand for ‘the human,’ masculine subjectivity tries to force us to name our truths in an alien language, to dilute them; we are constantly told that the ‘real’ problems ... are those men have defined, that the problems we need to examine are trivial, unscholarly, nonexistent… Any woman who has moved from the playing-fields of male discourse into the realm where women are developing our own descriptions of the world, knows the extraordinary sense of shedding … someone else’s baggage, of ceasing to translate. It is not that thinking becomes easy, but that the difficulties are intrinsic to the work itself, rather than to the environment… p. 116, quoting Adrienne Rich (originally from “Conditions for Work: The Common World of Women,” Heresies 3 (1977), 53–54) The other side of the nightmare is not that what is found in the ‘other’ art will be incomprehensible, but that it will be all too familiar. That is: Women’s lives are the buried truth about men’s lives. The lives of people of color are the buried truth about white lives. The buried truth about the rich is who they take their money from. The buried truth about ‘normal’ sexuality is how one kind of sexual expression has been made privileged, and what kinds of unearned virtue and terrors about identity this distinction serves. pp. 118–19 In a lecture on women’s painting given at the University of Colorado in the spring of 1977, J. J. Wilson made one crucial point: Nobody ever paints just one picture. (Although, she added, if you knew women artists only by popular reproductions, you might think so.) It is the same in literature. No one—except one who dies at sixteen—writes one novel and nothing else. No one produces one small group of poems and nothing else. Nobody is without origins. Nobody is totally without colleagues. Nobody whose work is read at all is without influence. p. 124 When I became aware [in college] of my ‘wrong’ experience, I chose fantasy. Convinced that I had no real experience of life, since my own obviously wasn’t part of Great Literature, I decided consciously that I’d write of things nobody knew anything about, dammit. So I wrote realism disguised as fantasy, that is, science fiction. p. 127

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Russ' book is still relevant because not everything has changed. In particular, the chapters about how women writers were recieved before it was known that they were women, are really interesting. But its also a genre plea because many of the quotes and stories come from writers in the Sci-Fi and genre field.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Steph

    This is a very enlightening book, and it made me feel good about my effort to read primarily women writers. I hope more people do the same!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Feld

    The cover of How to Suppress Women’s Writing really says it all: for writing/popular culture to be maintained as a man’s sphere, women’s writing needs to be made illegitimate: she wrote it with someone else’s help; she wrote about boring things that only appeal to women (like female friendships, parenting, or clothes) instead of the important things that appeal to men (like male friendships, war, or sports); she wrote about male things, which makes her work indecent or off-putting; or even, she’ The cover of How to Suppress Women’s Writing really says it all: for writing/popular culture to be maintained as a man’s sphere, women’s writing needs to be made illegitimate: she wrote it with someone else’s help; she wrote about boring things that only appeal to women (like female friendships, parenting, or clothes) instead of the important things that appeal to men (like male friendships, war, or sports); she wrote about male things, which makes her work indecent or off-putting; or even, she’s just an anomaly. Why can only men write about strong emotion without being called ‘confessional’ or specific places without being called ‘regional?’ Why do we reprint only selections of women writers but not their full works, to the point where readers think Mary Shelley and Charlotte Bronte only wrote one book apiece, or that Elizabeth Barrett Browning only wrote love poems? Why are men hailed as universal when writing about men and praised for getting into someone else’s head when writing about women, while women writing about their own experiences are dismissed for writing ‘chick lit’ and are sneered at as ignorant and wrong-headed when writing about men? How does the 5% average of women in anthologies rewrite history to make it seem like very few women were writing in any given era, not only erasing the bulk of women writers, but making the few who remain seem anomalous, not part of the same (or any) cultural conversation? Russ’s book mainly compiles and organizes quotes from both modern and historical critics and literary figures to prove the ways in which women’s creativity is dismissed and elided from the current conversation and the literary canon. And Russ is particularly well situated to tackle the subject as both a professor of literature and a writer of science fiction (typically seen as an exclusively male field despite the many women who read and write it). The downside of the book is the constantly shifting tone: Russ is writing an academic treatise to prove her point and have it taken seriously, but she's also both brilliant and really pissed off. I kept stutter/stopping between her dry, complex passages and her sudden, revelatory insights. This is a hugely important read, but it does take a bit out of you. What’s distressing is that although reading Tillie Olsen’s Silences comforted me about how much has changed in the past few decades, Russ’s book is sadly still completely relevant more than thirty years after its publication.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    She didn't write it. She wrote it, but she shouldn't have. She wrote it, but look what she wrote about. She wrote it, but "she" isn't really an artist and "it" isn't really serious, of the right genre -- i.e., really art. She wrote it, but she only wrote one of it. She wrote it, but it's only interesting/included in the canon for one, limited reason. She wrote it, but there are very few of her. - Chapter 8: Anomalousness 4.5 rounded up A fantastic, thought-provoking read. This was first published in 198 She didn't write it. She wrote it, but she shouldn't have. She wrote it, but look what she wrote about. She wrote it, but "she" isn't really an artist and "it" isn't really serious, of the right genre -- i.e., really art. She wrote it, but she only wrote one of it. She wrote it, but it's only interesting/included in the canon for one, limited reason. She wrote it, but there are very few of her. - Chapter 8: Anomalousness 4.5 rounded up A fantastic, thought-provoking read. This was first published in 1983, but does not feel all that dated - in fact almost all of Russ's arguments are still pertinent 34 years later. This slim book tackles the suppression of women's writing in 11 different chapters, with titles such as Prohibitions, Bad Faith, False Categorizing and the one quoted above. There is (at least in the edition I have) also an afterword, focused on authors who are all women of colour, where Russ admits that she has spent years as a "cultural solipsist", which was especially interesting. I thought Russ had some great arguments backed up by a lot of research, along with some interesting examples from her life as a writer herself, and as an academic and later professor. She talks about Virginia Woolf a lot, and I am now determined to get around to reading more of Woolf's work. I don't want to go into too much detail about the content of this, but I think it goes without saying that this is an extremely important work, and is worthy of being read not by just those interested in feminism but anyone interested in gender issues and writing.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Storyheart

    How do we suppress women's writing? Easy. Just say: "She didn't write it. She wrote it but she shouldn't have. She wrote it but look what she wrote about. She wrote it but she isn't really an artist, and it isn't really art. She wrote it but she had help. She wrote it but she's an anomaly. She wrote it BUT..." A well-argued, lucid overview of the many ways women's writing has been ignored, suppressed and denigrated over the centuries. Though first published over 30 years ago, too many of the aut How do we suppress women's writing? Easy. Just say: "She didn't write it. She wrote it but she shouldn't have. She wrote it but look what she wrote about. She wrote it but she isn't really an artist, and it isn't really art. She wrote it but she had help. She wrote it but she's an anomaly. She wrote it BUT..." A well-argued, lucid overview of the many ways women's writing has been ignored, suppressed and denigrated over the centuries. Though first published over 30 years ago, too many of the author's arguments remain valid to this day. (Just this week in a GR group, someone told me she was a serious reader and didn't read 'women's fiction'. Plus ça change....) Thank you to Edelwiess and the publisher for an ARC of the re-issue of this book, completed with biting forward by Jessica Crispin.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tifany

    I still refer frequently in conversation to facts gleaned from this book --about the diversity in reception of the Brontes, in particular, and about the practice of anthologizing, where the percentage of women represented in anthologies remains constant, largely because women writers are never ADDED to, but replaced with a new slate of writers from generation to generation, whereas their male counterparts are allowed to hold their place, despite the continued presence of a sizeable percentage of I still refer frequently in conversation to facts gleaned from this book --about the diversity in reception of the Brontes, in particular, and about the practice of anthologizing, where the percentage of women represented in anthologies remains constant, largely because women writers are never ADDED to, but replaced with a new slate of writers from generation to generation, whereas their male counterparts are allowed to hold their place, despite the continued presence of a sizeable percentage of minor talent. All of which leads to the false conclusion, for many young woman starting out, that with the exception of a small handful of women, most successful female writers are contemporary. In general, quite illuminating when it comes to the ways in which one can rhetorically marginalize any given group. It's also a lot of fun.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Iris

    Absolutely fantastic! I had to skip around because I'm using it for a research paper, but definitely worth the read!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lobo

    Najsmutniejszą częścią jest to, jak bardzo aktualna jest to książka i że na jej podstawie można napisać monografię dewaluacji przez krytykę twórczości takich autorek jak Gretkowska czy Tokarczuk. Jedyne, co się zmieniło to używane w tym celu chwyty stylistyczne. Powinnam się wkurzać za to, jak Russ dekonstruuje mi pewne tezy doktoratu, ale jestem zbyt wdzięczna za wyciągnięcie mnie z dołka intelektualnego. Najbardziej urzekające jest to, że mówi pewne oczywistości, które wciąż nie są oczywiste i Najsmutniejszą częścią jest to, jak bardzo aktualna jest to książka i że na jej podstawie można napisać monografię dewaluacji przez krytykę twórczości takich autorek jak Gretkowska czy Tokarczuk. Jedyne, co się zmieniło to używane w tym celu chwyty stylistyczne. Powinnam się wkurzać za to, jak Russ dekonstruuje mi pewne tezy doktoratu, ale jestem zbyt wdzięczna za wyciągnięcie mnie z dołka intelektualnego. Najbardziej urzekające jest to, że mówi pewne oczywistości, które wciąż nie są oczywiste i celnie analizuje pewne pułapki, w które same wnikliwe analizatorki, takie jak chociażby Virginia Wolf, pozwoliły się złapać patriarchatowi. Russ powinna stanowić punkt wyjścia rozważań na temat funkcjonowania kobiet na scenie literackiej, chociażby ze względu na swoją bezkompromisowość i prostotę, z jaką określa patriarchalne przeświadczenia idiotyzmami, którymi przecież są. Bardzo podobało mi się także dążenie do inkluzyjności, w tym rodzaj indeksu wypowiedzi WOC na temat ich pozycji jako autorek, gdzie Russ mówi jedynie, że one same wiedzą najlepiej, w jakich warunkach pracują, więc jej rolą może być jedynie wskazanie, a naszym zadaniem jest dowiedzenie się. Warto też zauważyć, że schemat analizy zastosowany przez Russ można przełożyć do mechanizmów deprecjacji każdej grupy podporządkowanej. To jest nawet ciekawy dalszy ciąg dalszy rozważań – deprecjacja autorstwa queerowego itd. Myślę, że ta praca jest dla mnie na poziomie doktoratu tym, czym „To Write Like a Woman” Russ było na poziome licencjatu, czyli czymś, co uratowało mi dupę.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jude

    I'm thinning my books but i'm gonna order 3 more of this cause i need to give it to a (high school) second cousin i hardly know & prolly a couple others. It was published in 1983, so even tho the notion of suppression sounds dated -this is a history of suppression: it's mechanics and it's enduring legacy. Time-specific and timeless. The easiest example may be Charlotte Bronte, because we have all read Jane Eyre, who is welcome in many academic settings. The percentage of Jane Eyre readers who I'm thinning my books but i'm gonna order 3 more of this cause i need to give it to a (high school) second cousin i hardly know & prolly a couple others. It was published in 1983, so even tho the notion of suppression sounds dated -this is a history of suppression: it's mechanics and it's enduring legacy. Time-specific and timeless. The easiest example may be Charlotte Bronte, because we have all read Jane Eyre, who is welcome in many academic settings. The percentage of Jane Eyre readers who have also read - or even heard of - CB's other books is tiny. That is successful suppression. It's not just writers who are kept systematically out of reach, but the less ladylike observances of those we think we know. The book is a guidebook to the nature of suppression in general. Many of the attitudes apply to the suppression of other "colonial" populations. When it comes to facing the true nature, cost, and consequences of oppression, any door will do. This one is satiric, bright, and timeless.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    If you believe that women (and other minorities) have been oppressed over the years in terms of their production of art, you should read this book to gain a deeper understanding of how it has been done as, well as why. If you are unconvinced about women (and other minorities) being oppressed in terms of their art, you should read this book. You will be confronted with some interesting evidence via reviews, in particular, that might challenge your point of view. If you're in a minority and interest If you believe that women (and other minorities) have been oppressed over the years in terms of their production of art, you should read this book to gain a deeper understanding of how it has been done as, well as why. If you are unconvinced about women (and other minorities) being oppressed in terms of their art, you should read this book. You will be confronted with some interesting evidence via reviews, in particular, that might challenge your point of view. If you're in a minority and interested in producing art, it might be worth reading this book so that you can watch out for ways in which your art can be suppressed. This is a superb book. I read it in one sitting. Russ goes through the variety of ways in which women's (and other minorities') art has been suppressed over the last century and a half or so, using reviews, anthologies and university curricula, and other similar evidence to produce a damning critique of the insidious, sly, and sometimes unwitting ways in which such art has been made to seem not-art, not-worthy, and not-existant.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    If you are a woman and a writer, do yourself a favor and read this book. If you're a woman and majored in literature in college, do yourself a favor and read this book. A woman and a librarian? Read it. A woman and a voracious reader? Yep, you need to read this as well. It is well-written and eye-opening. I've hit a place where I'm struggling to create or to compete things I start. This book makes me want to press on through the block. After reading this book, I don't think that the patriarchy p If you are a woman and a writer, do yourself a favor and read this book. If you're a woman and majored in literature in college, do yourself a favor and read this book. A woman and a librarian? Read it. A woman and a voracious reader? Yep, you need to read this as well. It is well-written and eye-opening. I've hit a place where I'm struggling to create or to compete things I start. This book makes me want to press on through the block. After reading this book, I don't think that the patriarchy per se is responsible for my block; rather, the book makes me feel like I owe it to myself to continue chipping away at the block and not let myself silence myself, if that makes any sense. There are so many ways women have been silenced historically... I should do all I can to make my voice heard. And so should you. Read this book, perhaps reassess some things, then go out and create what you value and release that creation to the world. :-)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    Russ originally published this title in 1983, but it's content and criticisms still feel incredibly relevant today. The book is written in a very accessible and conversational tone, with plenty of quotes from everyday women in addition to prominent writers such as Virginia Woolf. Russ sets about exploring the many avenues through which women are excluded from the art world(literature, fine arts, etc.), including being criticized for not creating the "right" art, a lack of any history of mentors Russ originally published this title in 1983, but it's content and criticisms still feel incredibly relevant today. The book is written in a very accessible and conversational tone, with plenty of quotes from everyday women in addition to prominent writers such as Virginia Woolf. Russ sets about exploring the many avenues through which women are excluded from the art world(literature, fine arts, etc.), including being criticized for not creating the "right" art, a lack of any history of mentors to look to, and a general lack of opportunities for involvement in the arts professionally. This criticism cannot only be applied to women, but also minorities, and basically any group which can be considered an "other" in the eyes of the white, heterosexual patriarchy who serve as the gatekeepers of the art world. A great introduction to this topic or an effective refresher for readers familiar with such issues.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Felicity

    A quick, basic overview of the ways women writers and their works have been denigrated and marginalized over time. That sounds depressing, but it's sharply written and an easy, accessible read. It's also an important read, because these 'techniques' are often unconscious and ingrained, and even those of us who are women and are writers are prone to falling into these patterns. It's extensively researched, and contains some interesting quotes and anecdotes from working writers. While the book larg A quick, basic overview of the ways women writers and their works have been denigrated and marginalized over time. That sounds depressing, but it's sharply written and an easy, accessible read. It's also an important read, because these 'techniques' are often unconscious and ingrained, and even those of us who are women and are writers are prone to falling into these patterns. It's extensively researched, and contains some interesting quotes and anecdotes from working writers. While the book largely addresses the history of European and American white female writers, Russ points out that the same criteria and misunderstandings are applied to writing by all sorts of minority groups, with the same result. It's well written and informative -- an improving book that you can blaze through in a day or two.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jesi

    I’M SCREAMING ALOUD I LOVED THIS SO MUCH!!!! joanna russ is an irreverent fangirl (yeah that’s right she’s one of ours) who gives ZERO FUCKS. this was a quick read but so funny and so smart. I will 10000% be teaching this in the fall. I wish someone had handed me this book when I was younger and I am excited to be the person who hands it to someone else. I don’t want to spoil some of the best lines in the book, which were laugh out loud funny, but I HAVE to include my absolute favorite: “Much an I’M SCREAMING ALOUD I LOVED THIS SO MUCH!!!! joanna russ is an irreverent fangirl (yeah that’s right she’s one of ours) who gives ZERO FUCKS. this was a quick read but so funny and so smart. I will 10000% be teaching this in the fall. I wish someone had handed me this book when I was younger and I am excited to be the person who hands it to someone else. I don’t want to spoil some of the best lines in the book, which were laugh out loud funny, but I HAVE to include my absolute favorite: “Much anti-feminist criticism of feminist writing can best be answered with, ‘Yeah? And where were you at the time, twinkletoes? Writing your ten-thousandth essay on King Lear?’” AHAHAHAHA. DAMN JOANNA!!!!! I love you. Are you dead or can I meet you! [edit: she is dead :((( but her work will live on when I teach it in every lit class forever.]

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Whyte

    A passionate, fairly concise polemic about the way in which women as writers are marginalised by academics, though also about the experience of minority erasure generally. Although towards the end it veered closer to micro-critiques of college course reading lists from over thirty years ago (I would be interested to know how much things have changed since), it's mostly full of wisdom and rage simultaneously. Numerous very good lines, including: 'The social invisibility of women's experience is no A passionate, fairly concise polemic about the way in which women as writers are marginalised by academics, though also about the experience of minority erasure generally. Although towards the end it veered closer to micro-critiques of college course reading lists from over thirty years ago (I would be interested to know how much things have changed since), it's mostly full of wisdom and rage simultaneously. Numerous very good lines, including: 'The social invisibility of women's experience is not "a failure of human communication". It is a socially arranged bias persisted in long after the information about women's experience is available (sometimes even publicly insisted on).' In other words, a book at least as much about society as a whole as it is about literature studies, its ostensible subject. Excellent.

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