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If reading it doesn't make you angry, you're not paying attention. Jan 16, Emma Sea rated it really liked it Shelves: i-own-it , non-fiction , feminism , literary-theory , paperback , books-about-books. It's uncanny how 30 years after writing the same shit still gets said about women artists and writers. A great classic text. View all 11 comments. Apr 26, Elizabeth rated it it was amazing Shelves: nonfiction-gender , nonfiction-litcrit , nonfiction-cultural-criticism. 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. It just -- the experience of reading it was overwhelming in the very best way. Jun 15, Lisa Feld rated it really liked it.
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. This is a hugely important read, but it does take a bit out of you.
Dec 29, Misha rated it it was amazing Shelves: doorway-plot , lgbtqia , nw-author , essays , racism , academia , read , doorway-prose , artists , feminism. Russ also understood institutionalized racism and sexism and privilege in ways that sound like dialogue happening now: "Conscious, conspiratorial guilt? 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.
How to Suppress Women's Writing by Joanna Russ, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®
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. 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. Apr 29, Kelly added it Shelves: non-fiction , read-in 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 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.
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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 Read it. Then do something. 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. 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 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.
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 Overall, a very solid and interesting book, and one which is very quote-worthy!
But persistence in ignorance is. She wrote it, but look what she wrote about. She wrote it, but she only wrote one of it. She wrote it, but there are very few of her. Chapter 8. I think every woman writer, artist, creator, English major student should read it. 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 in the context of institutionalized sexism and racism makes all to easy.
Livy: Oh, well…. 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. The next Dark Lady would have to be, like her, clever, learned, good-looking, capable of writing family- type criticism as well as fiction with a strong trace of naughtiness. Apr 11, B. Sanders rated it really liked it. 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.
Some of this is deliberate, but just as much is unconscious bias. And, somehow, she does it with a wry and witty voice that makes the writing lively. Still, the book is not a perfect one.
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. 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. Shelves: seminal-texts , literary-theory , metatexts , alternate-history , semi-dystopian , being-better , feminism , satire , science-fiction.
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. This pleases me. 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. 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.
All of us must perforce accept large chunks of our culture ready made; there is not enough energy and time to do otherwise. She didn't write it. She wrote it, but she shouldn't have. She wrote it, but "she" isn't really an artist and "it" isn't really serious, of the right genre -- i. This was first published in She didn't write it. This was first published in , 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. Feb 04, Mo rated it really liked it Shelves: non-fiction , feminism.
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. Mar 29, Christine rated it really liked it Shelves: feminist , literary-criticism-biography , women-writers.
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. View 1 comment. Jun 09, Melinda rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites , feminism , nonfiction. 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.
But, alas, give them the least real freedom and they will do it. Lee R.
How to Suppress Women’s Writing
A mutant or a dinosaur. 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.
The trick in the double standard of content is to label one set of experiences as more valuable and important than the other. That's the problem. The book is exhausting and wry and depressing, a deeply sourced journey through the misogyny of the making of the English literary canon. I don't need this book. Your son needs this book. Your uncle needs it. Your bartender needs it.
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Maybe you need it. Russ showed me we can't sensibly talk about what is most important or of the highest quality without first asking who gets to decide, and based on what criteria? Help Centre. My Wishlist Sign In Join. Be the first to write a review. Add to Wishlist. Ships in 7 to 10 business days. Link Either by signing into your account or linking your membership details before your order is placed.
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Foreword by Jessa CrispinPrologue1. Bad Faith3. As relevant today as when it was first published in , this book has motivated generations of readers with its powerful feminist critique. It is angry without being self-righteous, it is thorough without being exhausting, and it is serious without being devoid of a sense of humor. Like all clear-sighted people who look and see what has been much mystified and much lied about, Russ is quite excitingly subversive. The study of literature should never be the same again. Hugo and Nebula award—winning author Russ was a widely respected feminist science fiction writer best known for the novel The Female Man.
She was also a professor of English at the University of Washington who published several collections of essays and literary criticism. Crispin is the founder and editor of Bookslut. Likely it won't be remembered long enough or taken seriously enough, but to read this book is to admire this buried tradition, and realize how much there is to be discovered — and how there's no time like the present to look at the marginalized writers you might be missing. Get angry; then get a reading list.
And the anger that sometimes propelled her work has a chance to continue to foment change. The book is exhausting and wry and depressing, a deeply sourced journey through the misogyny of the making of the English literary canon.
How to Suppress Women’s Criticism
Your son needs this book. Your uncle needs it. Your bartender needs it.