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Phyllis Chesler quotes (showing 1-13 of 13)

“Before I began research for this book I was not consciously aware that women were aggressive in indirect ways, that they gossiped and ostracized each other incessantly, and did not acknowledge their own envious and competitive feelings. I now understand that, in order to survive as a woman, among women, one must speak carefully, cautiously, neutrally, indirectly; one must pay careful attention to what more socially powerful women have to say before one speaks; one must learn how to flatter, manipulate, aree with, and appease them. And, if one is hurt or offended by another woman, one does not say so outright; one expresses it indirectly, by turning others against her.
Of course, I refuse to learn these "girlish" lessons.”
Phyllis Chesler, Woman's Inhumanity to Woman
“For most women, being seen, having others pay attention to you, is imagined and experienced as more desirable and more powerful than commanding an army or seizing control of the means of production and reproduction.”
Phyllis Chesler, Woman's Inhumanity to Woman
“The idea that women's strong attachments to each other are what make them so vulnerable is horrifying. I count my close friendships with a few girls that I know as one of the best things I have going for me right now. My love for them leaves me open to hurt, but ... all love does, or at least that's the cliche. Perhaps girls and women do come to love each other too quickly, or once they are trapped into appearing as though they love one another, they don't want to back out of it. That is probably true. But a fear of confrontation in relationships is the downside. The ability to love easily is a positive.”
Phyllis Chesler, Woman's Inhumanity to Woman
tags: women
“That these girls avoid use of physical violence in resolving conflict, does not mean that these conflicts are resolved in meaningful and enduring ways. Girls might smile, give in, give up - and then continue the conflict behind their opponents' backs. Girls might also smile, give in, make fatal compromises, because their need to belong (or not to be excluded) is more important to them than sticking to their principles.”
Phyllis Chesler, Woman's Inhumanity to Woman
“Ideal mental health, like freedom, exists for one person only if it exists for all people.”
Phyllis Chesler, Women and Madness
“Women must convert their love for and reliance on strength and skill in others to a love for all manner of strength and skill in themselves”
Phyllis Chesler, Women and Madness
“For women not to fear rape because we can successfully defend ourselves against it is not anachronistic but revolutionary. For women to be considered as potential warriors (in every sense of the word, including its physical representation) is not anachronistic but revolutionary. If realized, it might imply a radical change in modern life.”
Phyllis Chesler, Women and Madness
“Mary, mother of Jesus, pays for her maternity by giving up her body, almost entirely: she foregoes both (hetero) sexual pleasure (Christ's birth is a virgin and "spiritual" birth) and physical prowess. She has no direct worldly power but, like her crucified son, is easily identified with by many people, especially women, as a powerless figure. Mary symbolizes power achieved through receptivity, compassion, and a uterus. (There's nothing intrinsically wrong with a consciously willed "receptivity" to the universe; on the contrary, it is highly desirable, and should certainly include "receptivity" to many things other than holy sperm and suffering.)”
Phyllis Chesler, Women and Madness
“Once Lola Pierotti earned $24,000 a year and worked long hours as an administrative assistant on Capitol Hill. Now she works longer hours and has even more responsibility- but no pay. What happened? Was she demoted? No, she just married the boss. Her bridegroom, of four years this month, was the senior Republican Senator from Vermont- George D. Aiken. "All he expects of me is that I drive his car, cook his meals, do his laundry and run his office," she enumerated, with a grin.”
Phyllis Chesler, Women and Madness
“The chowdry, or burqa -- the Saudi, North African, and Central Asian version of the head, face, and body shroud -- is a sensory deprivation isolation chamber. It is claustrophobic, may lead to anxiety and depression, and reinforces a woman's already low self-esteem. It may also lead to vitamin D deficiency diseases such as osteoporosis and heart disease. Sensory deprivation officially constitutes torture and is practiced as such in the world's prisons.”
Phyllis Chesler, An American Bride in Kabul
“A harem is not a brothel, as so many Westerners erroneously believe. It is merely the women's living quarters. Male relatives can join them -- but no male nonrelatives may do so. It is hardly a den of eroticism.”
Phyllis Chesler, An American Bride in Kabul
tags: harem
“It is impossible for a Westerner to imagine the deadening torpor of a protected life under house arrest. Eventually, one is grateful for the smallest outing outdoors -- a lovely picnic in a burqa, being allowed to watch the men and boys fly kites or swim.”
Phyllis Chesler, An American Bride in Kabul
“Encountering gender apartheid and waged slavery shook me to my roots more than half a century ago in Afghanistan. Oh, the women of Afghanistan, the women of the Muslim world. I was no feminist -- but now, thinking back, I see how much I learned there, how clearly their condition taught me to see gender discrimination anywhere and, above all, taught me to see how cruel oppressed women could be to each other. They taught me about women everywhere.”
Phyllis Chesler, An American Bride in Kabul


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