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Joanna Russ quotes (showing 1-30 of 61)

“As my mother once said: The boys throw stones at the frog in jest. But the frogs die in earnest.”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“Long before I became a feminist in any explicit way, I had turned from writing love stories about women in which women were losers, and adventure stories about men in which the men were winners, to writing adventure stories about a woman in which the woman won. It was one of the hardest things I ever did in my life.”
Joanna Russ
“I'm not a girl. I'm a genius. ”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“I once asked a young dissertation writer whether her suddenly grayed hair was due to ill health or personal tragedy; she answered: “It was the footnotes”.”
Joanna Russ, How to Suppress Women's Writing
“Leaning her silly, beautiful, drunken head on my shoulder, she said, "Oh, Esther, I don't want to be a feminist. I don't enjoy it. It's no fun."

"I know," I said. "I don't either." People think you decide to be a "radical," for God's sake, like deciding to be a librarian or a ship's chandler. You "make up your mind," you "commit yourself" (sounds like a mental hospital, doesn't it?).

I said Don't worry, we could be buried together and have engraved on our tombstone the awful truth, which some day somebody will understand:

WE WUZ PUSHED.”
Joanna Russ, On Strike Against God
“This is the underside of my world.

Of course you don’t want me to be stupid, bless you! you only want to make sure you’re intelligent. You don’t want me to commit suicide; you only want me to be gratefully aware of my dependency. You don’t want me to despise myself; you only want the flattering deference to you that you consider a spontaneous tribute to your natural qualities. You don’t want me to lose my soul; you only want what everybody wants, things to go your way; you want a devoted helpmeet, a self-sacrificing mother, a hot chick, a darling daughter, women to look at, women to laugh at, women to come for comfort, women to wash your floors and buy your groceries and cook your food and keep your children out of your hair, to work when you need the money and stay home when you don’t, women to be enemies when you want a good fight, women who are sexy when you want a good lay, women who don’t complain, women who don’t nag or push, women who don’t hate you really, women who know their job and above all—women who lose. On top of it all, you sincerely require me to be happy; you are naively puzzled that I should be wretched and so full of venom in this the best of all possible worlds. Whatever can be the matter with me? But the mode is more than a little outworn.

As my mother once said: the boys throw stones at the frogs in jest.

But the frogs die in earnest.”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“There are plenty of images of women in science fiction. There are hardly any women.”
Joanna Russ
“I didn’t and don’t want to be a ‘feminine’ version or a diluted version or a special version or a subsidiary version or an ancillary version, or an adapted version of the heroes I admire. I want to be the heroes themselves.”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“I think," said my neighbour, her chin very high in the air (and still spiffed, I am glad to say) "that women who've never married and never had children have missed out on the central experiences of life. They are emotionally crippled."

Now what am I supposed to say to that? I ask you. That women who've never won the Nobel Peace Prize have also experienced a serious deprivation? It's like taking candy from a baby; the poor thing isn't allowed to get angry, only catty. I said, "That's rude, and silly," and helped her to mashed potatoes.

...."You can't catch a man."

"That's why I'll never be abandoned," said I. Fortunately she did not hear me. Did I say taking candy from babies? Rather, eating babies, killing babies, abandoning babies. So sad, so easy.”
Joanna Russ, On Strike Against God
“This book is written in blood.

Is it written entirely in blood?

No, some of it is written in tears.

Are the blood and tears all mine?

Yes, they have been in the past, but the future is a different matter.

As the bear swore in Pogo after having endured a pot shoved on her head, being turned upside down while still in the pot, a discussion about her edibility, the lawnmowering of her behind, and a fistful of ground pepper in the snoot, she then swore a mighty oath on the ashes of her mothers (i.e. her forebears) grimly but quietly while the apples from the shaken apple tree above her dropped bang thud on her head:

OH, SOMEBODY ASIDES ME IS GONNA RUE THIS HERE PARTICULAR DAY.”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“The trouble with men is that they have limited minds. That's the trouble
with women, too."

["Existence" (1975)]”
Joanna Russ
“Minority art, vernacular art, is marginal art. Only on the margins does growth occur.”
Joanna Russ
“Watch: (1) You do something nasty to me. (2) I hate you. (3) You find it uncomfortable to be hated. (4) You think how nice it would be if I didn't hate you. (5) You decide I ought not to hate you because hate is bad. (6) Good people don’t hate. (7) Because I hate you I am a bad person. (8) It is not what you did to me that makes me hate you, it is my own bad nature. I—not you—am the cause of my hating you.
Joanna Russ
“The demon got up. The demon said Fool. To think you can eat their food and not talk to them. To think you can take their money and not be afraid of them. To think you can depend on their company and not suffer from them.”
Joanna Russ, On Strike Against God
“....thinking you are attacking society when you condemn or ravage the hypothetical Nice Girl Next Door is the exact equivalent of thinking that stealing from the local supermarket makes you a Communist.”
Joanna Russ
“You can't imbibe someone's success by f*cking them.”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“That not all men are piggy, only some; that not all men belittle me, only some; that not all men get mad if you won’t let them play Chivalry, only some; that not all men write books in which women are idiots, only most; that not all men pull rank on me, only some; that not all men pinch their secretaries’ asses, only some; that not all men make obscene remarks to me in the street, only some; that not all men make more money than I do, only some; that not all men make more money than all women, only most; that not all men are rapists, only some; that not all men are promiscuous killers, only some; that not all men control Congress, the Presidency, the police, the army, industry, agriculture, law, science, medicine, architecture, and local government, only some.

I sat down on the lawn and wept.”
Joanna Russ, On Strike Against God
“And middle-class women, although taught to value established forms, are in the same position as the working class: neither can use established forms to express what the forms were never intended to express (and may very well operate to conceal).”
Joanna Russ, How to Suppress Women's Writing
“(Ezekial saw the wheel
(Way up in the middle of the air --
(O Ezekial saw the wheel
(Way in the middle of the air!

(Now the big wheel runs by faith
(And the little wheel runs by the grace of God --

(The above made up by professional hope experts, you might say, because willful, voluntary, intentional hope was the only kind they had in anything like long supply. Faith is not, contrary to the usual ideas, something that turns out to be right or wrong, like a gambler's bet; it's an act, an intention, a project, something that makes you, in leaping into the future, go so far, far, far ahead that you shoot clean out of Time and right into Eternity, which is not the end of time or a whole lot of time or unending time, but timelessness, that old Eternal Now. So that you end up living not in the future ((in your intentional "act of faith")) but in the present. After all.

(Courage is willful hope.)”
Joanna Russ, On Strike Against God
“There is the vanity training, the obedience training, the self-effacement training, the deference training, the dependency training, the passivity training, the rivalry training, the stupidity training, the placation training. How am I to put this together with my human life, my intellectual life, my solitude, my transcendence, my brains, and my fearful, fearful ambition? I failed miserably and thought it was my own fault. You can't unite woman and human any more than you can unite matter and anti-matter; they are designed to not to be stable together and they make just as big an explosion inside the head of the unfortunate girl who believes in both.”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“(Only God can make a tree and She seldom tries, nowadays.)”
Joanna Russ, On Strike Against God
“Ignorance is not bad faith. But persistence in ignorance is.”
Joanna Russ, How to Suppress Women's Writing
“Courage is willful hope.”
Joanna Russ, On Strike Against God
“If you scream, people say you're melodramatic; if you submit, you’re masochistic; if you call names, you're a bitch. Hit him and he'll kill you. The best thing is to suffer mutely and yearn for a rescuer, but suppose a rescuer doesn't come?”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“Alas, it was never meant for us to hear. It was never meant for us to know. We ought never be taught to read. We fight through the constant male refractoriness of our surroundings; our souls are torn out of us with such shock that there isn't even any blood. Remember: I didn't and don't want to be a 'feminine' version or a diluted version or a special version or a subsidiary version or an ancillary version, or an adapted version of the heroes I admire. I want to be the heroes themselves.”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“Now in my eleven years of conventional life I had learned many things and one of them is what it means to be convicted of rape--I do not mean the man who did it, I mean the woman to whom it was done. Rape is one of the Christian mysteries, it creates a luminous and beautiful tableau in people's minds; and as I listened furtively to what nobody would allow me to hear straight out, I slowly came to understand that I was face to face with one of those feminine disasters, like pregnancy, like disease, like weakness; she was not only the victim of the act but in some strange way its perpetrator; somehow she had attracted the lightening that struck her out of a clear sky. A diabolical chance--which was not chance--had revealed her to all of us as she truly was, in her secret inadequacy, in that wretched guiltiness which she had kept hidden for seventeen years but which now finally manifested in front of everybody. Her secret guilt was this:
She was Cunt.
She had "lost" something.
Now the other party to the incident had manifested his essential nature, too; he was Prick--but being Prick is not a bad thing. In fact, he had "gotten away with" something (possibly what she had "lost").
And there I was at eleven years of age:
She was out late at night.
She was in the wrong part of town.
Her skirt was too short and that provoked him.
She liked having her eye blacked and her head banged against the sidewalk.
I understood this perfectly. (I reflected thus in my dream, in my state of being a pair of eyes in a small wooden box stuck forever on a grey, geometric plane--or so I thought.) I too had been guilty of what had been done to me, when I came home from the playground in tears because I had been beaten up by bigger children who were bullies.
I was dirty.
I was crying.
I demanded comfort.
I was being inconvenient.
I did not disappear into thin air.”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“The game is a dominance game called I Must Impress This Woman. Failure makes the active player play harder. Wear a hunched back or a withered arm; you will then experience the invisibility of the passive player. I'm never impressed -- no woman ever is -- it's just a cue that you like me and I'm supposed to like that. If you really like me, maybe I can get you to stop. Stop; I want to talk to you! Stop; I want to see you! Stop; I'm dying and disappearing!
SHE: Isn't it just a game?
HE: Yes, of course.
SHE: And if you play the game, it means you like me, doesn't it?
HE: Of course.
SHE: Then if it's just a game and you like me, you can stop playing. Please stop.
HE: No.
SHE: Then I won't play.
HE: Bitch! You want to destroy me. I'll show you. (He plays harder)
SHE: All right. I'm impressed.
HE: You really are sweet and responsive after all. You've kept your femininity. You're not one of those hysterical feminist bitches who wants to be a man and have a penis. You're a woman.
SHE: Yes. (She kills herself)”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“What future is there for a female child who aspires to being Humpfrey Bogart?”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“To die on a dying Earth - I'd live, if only to weep.”
Joanna Russ, We Who Are About To...
“What did we talk about?

I don't remember. We talked so hard and sat so still that I got cramps in my knee. We had too many cups of tea and then didn't want to leave the table to go to the bathroom because we didn't want to stop talking. You will think we talked of revolution but we didn't. Nor did we talk of our own souls. Nor of sewing. Nor of babies. Nor of departmental intrigue. It was political if by politics you mean the laboratory talk that characters in bad movies are perpetually trying to convey (unsuccessfully) when they Wrinkle Their Wee Brows and say (valiantly--dutifully--after all, they didn't write it) "But, Doctor, doesn't that violate Finagle's Constant?" I staggered to the bathroom, released floods of tea, and returned to the kitchen to talk. It was professional talk. It left my grey-faced and with such concentration that I began to develop a headache. We talked about Mary Ann Evans' loss of faith, about Emily Brontë's isolation, about Charlotte Brontë's blinding cloud, about the split in Virginia Woolf's head and the split in her economic condition. We talked about Lady Murasaki, who wrote in a form that no respectable man would touch, Hroswit, a little name whose plays "may perhaps amuse myself," Miss Austen, who had no more expression in society than a firescreen or a poker. They did not all write letters, write memoirs, or go on the stage. Sappho--only an ambiguous, somewhat disagreeable name. Corinna? The teacher of Pindar. Olive Schriener, growing up on the veldt, wrote on book, married happily, and ever wrote another. Kate Chopin wrote a scandalous book and never wrote another. (Jean has written nothing.). There was M-ry Sh-ll-y who wrote you know what and Ch-rl-tt- P-rk-ns G-lm-an, who wrote one superb horror study and lots of sludge (was it sludge?) and Ph-ll-s Wh--tl-y who was black and wrote eighteenth century odes (but it was the eighteenth century) and Mrs. -nn R-dcl-ff- S-thw-rth and Mrs. G--rg- Sh-ld-n and (Miss?) G--rg-tt- H-y-r and B-rb-r- C-rtl-nd and the legion of those, who writing, write not, like the dead Miss B--l-y of the poem who was seduced into bad practices (fudging her endings) and hanged herself in her garter. The sun was going down. I was blind and stiff. It's at this point that the computer (which has run amok and eaten Los Angeles) is defeated by some scientifically transcendent version of pulling the plug; the furniture stood around unknowing (though we had just pulled out the plug) and Lady, who got restless when people talked at suck length because she couldn't understand it, stuck her head out from under the couch, looking for things to herd. We had talked for six hours, from one in the afternoon until seven; I had at that moment an impression of our act of creation so strong, so sharp, so extraordinarily vivid, that I could not believe all our talking hadn't led to something more tangible--mightn't you expect at least a little blue pyramid sitting in the middle of the floor?”
Joanna Russ, On Strike Against God

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