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

4.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  707 Ratings  ·  76 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
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Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 1st 1983 by University of Texas Press
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Lois Bujold
Mar 24, 2016 Lois Bujold rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Lois by: random intenet review reminded me

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
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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
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Ginger K
Jul 03, 2011 Ginger K rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: humans
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
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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
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ingenue
Jul 12, 2008 ingenue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This should be required reading for all humans. If reading it doesn't make you angry, you're not paying attention.
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 ...more
Laura
Mar 24, 2016 Laura rated it really liked it
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
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Mo
Nov 29, 2014 Mo rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, feminism
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.
Janet
May 25, 2013 Janet rated it it was amazing
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
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.
B.R. Sanders
Apr 16, 2014 B.R. Sanders rated it really liked it
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
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Alexandra
May 22, 2011 Alexandra rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2011
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
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Tifany
Sep 02, 2009 Tifany rated it really liked it
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
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!
Glen Engel-Cox
Sep 11, 2015 Glen Engel-Cox rated it really liked it
As a member of the entrenched rulers of literature, I could take this thin volume and use it to continue to oppress the writing minorities. In the space of eleven heavily researched chapters, Russ has given me all the tools I will ever need to belittle, demean, steal the credit, cloud the issues, and, generally, keep the pure white male ascendant. This is, of course, necessary, for those of us in power wish to stay in power, naturally.

However, as a cell block leader in the underground fight for
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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
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Mark
Oct 23, 2015 Mark rated it really liked it
My second read through, will probably take a few more before I get it all. My own fault, going into a survey of women in literary history without having read much of it myself.

The first 2/3 are easy, and spot-on assessments of how women have suffered as writers through the last few hundred years. The last 1/3 brings the first 2/3 together and, although Russ protests that she is not a scholar and this is not a scholarly work, things do condense in a scholarly way that can be difficult for lay fol
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Amanda
Dec 30, 2014 Amanda rated it it was amazing
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
Catherine
Jun 19, 2015 Catherine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-nonfiction
Read and re-read and still so very on-target, which is utterly painful to see. Much of what Russ says here is applicable to other groups of writers as well, though there are different forces at play which impact the visibility of writers of color and queer writers (for example). In any case, track it down, read it, learn from it and let's do better.
Nicholas Whyte
Mar 19, 2011 Nicholas Whyte rated it it was amazing
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
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Felicity
Apr 18, 2009 Felicity rated it really liked it
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
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L Timmel
Aug 31, 2012 L Timmel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reread
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
Melody
Feb 10, 2011 Melody rated it really liked it
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
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Sarah Buchmann
Mar 15, 2013 Sarah Buchmann rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-writing
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".
Sarah
Mar 27, 2014 Sarah rated it it was amazing
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
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Lynne
Dec 20, 2013 Lynne rated it really liked it
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.
Kristin-Leigh
Oct 11, 2014 Kristin-Leigh rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014-reads
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
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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.
jenice
Nov 25, 2015 jenice rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
cool
Melinda
Sep 20, 2014 Melinda rated it it was amazing
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.

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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
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Joanna Russ (February 22, 1937 – April 29, 2011) was an American writer, academic and feminist. She is the author of a number of works of science fiction, fantasy and feminist literary criticism such as How to Suppress Women's Writing, as well as a contemporary novel, On Strike Against God, and one children's book, Kittatinny. She is best known for The Female Man, a novel combining utopian fiction ...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”.” 37 likes
“Ignorance is not bad faith. But persistence in ignorance is.” 21 likes
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