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How to Suppress Women's Writing
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How to Suppress Women's Writing

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  514 ratings  ·  61 reviews
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
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 1st 1983 by University of Texas Press
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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
This should be required reading for all humans. If reading it doesn't make you angry, you're not paying attention.
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.
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 ...more
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
Dec 24, 2013 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Laura by: Liz Henry
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
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 ...more
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 ...more
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!
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
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
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
Apr 18, 2009 Felicity rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Writers and readers, male and female
Shelves: nonfiction, feminism
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
L Timmel
This is a re-read (of course!) made in preparation for a panel at Readercon dedicated to discussing it. It continues to be relevant, though as with every reading of books one reads and rereads over decades, it speaks to me differently now, and in some sense explains my decision to become a publisher (however deleterious that's proven to be to my writing career). Perhaps most striking, this time around, is the brilliance of Russ's rhetorical strategies and her superb mastery of the form in which ...more
This one belongs on the Feminist Classics shelf. I stumbled across a reference to it online, and was intrigued enough to order it through Inter-Library Loan, which should say something right there. A feminist classic about how women's writing is suppressed, written by a woman... that's unavailable at my local library? In Portland, Oregon, yet? So.

I don't know who said "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention" but after reading this, one suspects it was a woman writer.

Highly recomme
Sarah Buchmann
Thirty years after publication this book should be out of date! I know that the author agrees with me. She wrote so in "The Female Man" in the most beautiful ending a book ever had.
I'm sorry to say that too much of this book did make sense to me. I am thankful to be prepared to carefully consider reactions that might come my way... Here we go again, after all this years, still sad and angry.
My next read will be "Destiny Rewritten".
Incredible. Rage-inducing, thought-provoking, it will prey on your mind after each read. I read this painfully slowly, each time realizing anew how very TRUE this remains. Every method of suppressing women's writing she describes is just as alive and insidious today as it was during the book's initial publication. My constant refrain was "how did I never know this? why did no one ever tell me this?" It's rather like being enlightened by way of a sledgehammer.

It would be unfair of me not to note
Classic in the field of 2nd wave feminist thought, at least from the SFF perspective. Glad I read it, sad to see that it's still fairly necessary to mention its existence routinely. Hoping to see more of it leveraged towards intersectionality and an inclusive version of feminism that recognizes multiple narratives, period.
Rohan Maitzen
Though in some ways this little volume is a bit of a "period piece," its anecdotal and epigrammatic style makes it really useful as a prompt for thinking about the issues it raises (and doesn't pretend to resolve). And though much has changed (for instance, she relates finding no edition of Villette in print to order for a class in 1971), there are plenty of continuities in today's literary scene. How to Suppress Women's Writing was recommended to me as a potential companion piece for A Room of ...more
I really need to stop reading books that then in turn expand my to-read list! This was really eye-opening, particularly the collected quotes regarding women's writing/female authorship from different time periods (aside from the outdated colloquialisms/phrasing, I could have assumed many of them had been made last week, especially the negative comments).

The one thing that I would note before recommending this book is that it is academic writing, complete with in-line citations and full blocks o
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.



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
I was surprised to find that the author of this book wasn't an academic, because the writing seemed a bit dry to me (like academic writing unfortunately often is), especially at the start of the book. Her writing style loosened up by the end of the book though, which finally made her arguments more compelling. This book was published in the early 80s, and it's sad that things haven't changed much for women writers and their contributions to literature. Women's writing is still too often "ghettoi ...more
Brigid Keely
"How To Suppress Women's Writing," by science fiction author Joanna Russ, is a look at the writing of women through history and how their work and words have been and continue to be marginalized.

Feminism and Feminists, have come under fire over the past few decades for some very good reasons. Namely, the narrow focus on white, affluent, educated, heterosexual, able bodied, cisgender, etc concerns. So I was nervous as I read a feminist book published in 1983. When would the shoe drop? When would
Published in 1983. Five stars not because it's so well written, but because it is so important.

Thanks to Djinnjer on goodreads for the ff quote followed by her own good summary:

Russ: '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 beg
Jonathan Scotese
I found this book to be interesting and informative, but feel I would have gotten more out of it if I was more familiar with literature. Joanna Russ explains the main fallacies and social pressures used to suppress women's writing, giving historical examples of their use, plus a few experiences of her and her friends.

I am not a student of literature, and I found many of the concepts both similar and interconnected to each other, making complete understanding difficult at times. I still found it
If you have ever wondered as a woman writer what your place in the tradition is, or wondered how to ask the perennial chauvinist questions "well why aren't there more women writers?" this book will help resolve the questions in your own mind and arm you in arguments. The first 100 or so pages of this book are the strongest as far as rhetoric goes. The latter half is more along the lines of literary criticism. While Russ acknowledges the limits of her research and her argument (including an after ...more
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 ...more
Elizabeth Lamb
This book was a surprise, a delight, a shock, and a challenge. I wanted to write to Russ immediately and was so saddened to discover that I had found her too late for that. Fortunately, she left other works behind for me to discover, and she is already influencing what I will write.
Funny and informative. I learned so much about interesting female writers and literary criticism. With Joanna's help I even discovered my now beloved Adrienne Rich - for which I will be forever grateful. Definitely recommended.
This book shows how women authors have been suppressed, ignored, discounted, and generally dissuaded from writing anything but what has been considered low-culture stuff for as long as anyone can remember. It's also really funny in its presentation, and it was one of the major stepping stones in my path to feminism. Recommended to anyone interested in feminism and/or literature. It should probably just be required reading for everyone in high school English classes.
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500 Great Books B...: How to Suppress Women's Writing - Joanna Russ 1 2 Jul 25, 2014 07:17PM  
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  • Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution
  • Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love Between Women from the Renaissance to the Present
  • The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution
  • Myths of Gender: Biological Theories about Women and Men
  • Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women's Liberation Movement
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  • The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service
  • Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places
  • Feminism FOR REAL: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism
  • Transforming a Rape Culture
  • Jane Sexes It Up: True Confessions of Feminist Desire
  • Intercourse
  • The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination
Joanna Russ was an American writer and feminist. She is the author of a number of works of science fiction, fantasy and feminist literary criticism and is best known for The Female Man, a novel combining utopian fiction and satire. It uses the device of parallel worlds as a form of a mediation of the ways that different societies might produce very different versions of the same person, and how al ...more
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“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”.” 30 likes
“Ignorance is not bad faith. But persistence in ignorance is.” 11 likes
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