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The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  508 ratings  ·  35 reviews
"For anyone first coming to feminism, these essays serve as a backdrop... for understanding the basic, early and continuing perspectives of feminists. And for all of us they provide a theoretical framework in which to read the present as well as the past." - WOMEN'S REVIEW OF BOOKS

"The style is both scholarly and direct without being ponderous. Frye makes a concerted effor
Paperback, 175 pages
Published March 1st 1983 by Crossing Press (first published 1983)
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This book is a must-read for anyone invested in feminism. It's the sort of book that you can read more than once, and learn something new or gain a different insight the second/third/fourth time around. The book is *so* structured, and her arguments are so succinct and well-formulated, so it's not a matter of the content being poorly explained; the content is just very, very deep. The imagery Frye uses, especially, is really profound and elegant: the bird in a wire cage as an analogy for oppress ...more
Jan 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed the essay on oppression, which set the stage for what I was hoping to be an excellent collection of feminist essays. I found the subsequent essays to be dreadfully academic, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just not my idea of pleasure reading. But whatever, I skimmed through the parts I found to be less interesting and the essays were okay.

Then I got to the essay "Lesbian Feminism and the Gay Rights Movement" which is basically a giant rant about how gay men are the torchbear
“Oppression” is a very clear essay, and a good what is and what isn’t oppression 101.

“Some reflections on separatism and power” is amazing and necessary. Down with male parasitism!

“A note on anger” has a good insight: “Anger. Domain. Respect.”

Wasn’t sold on the rest. Some of her reflections on race are bizarre - “natives of India and Pakistan are generally counted as white in [america]”??? Also the navel gazing - “does being white make it impossible for me to be a good person?” Pass. The chapte
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
In The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory, American feminist philosopher Dr. Marilyn Frye compiles a collection of her essays (nine in total) pertaining to patriarchy, separatism, race, and oppression (among other topics). Overall, the arguments were candid, concise, and structured (although I do take issue with some of her conclusions). The prose was scholarly but occasionally veered into territories of inaccessibility and academic jargon.

The first essay, "Oppression," is an effecti
Bloody Dyke
AMAZING!!!!!!!! SO GREAT!!!! I LOVED IT!!!!!
Freya Fay
Jun 02, 2022 rated it liked it
Before I say anything, I will say I am a queer and genderqueer teenager reading this to book for a family member. The dissection of my thoughts on the essays is not a criticism of Marilyn Frye or anybody mentioned. I don’t hate anybody! These essays are much older than I, and thus the ideas in them are not made for me.

That said, I’m honestly shocked about the exclusion of trans people from the essays in this book. There was one off-hand (joke?) about not asking male people to get a “sex change”
Oct 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I think this book is a perfect introduction to feminism. Personally, I did find it difficult to get through because of the writing style, but I feel like every sentence had so much impact on me.

some lessons i learned:
- Sex is biologically determined, and there is more than two. Gender is made up by sex marking and sex announcing behaviors perpetuated by cultural and economic structures.
- Different languages differ in their degree of gender-loading (which is things like latino vs latina). This an
Mar 05, 2022 rated it really liked it
Like some of my recent reads, I read only a part of this text for the polit. theory class I am currently in at university. Reading just the first essay of Frye's book titled Oppression gave me good information regarding the definition of oppression (specifically by gender) and in what ways it affects the oppressed and the oppressor. One thing I really liked was Frye's distinction of oppression vs. boundaries and restrictions. I found it very pertinent to the COVID conversation around mask and va ...more
May 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
As a radical feminist, I bought this book in the hope that I would gain more insight into radfem theory. But holy crap, am I ever disappointed.

Her first essay (on oppression) was pretty good; but the rest of the book read like an exercise in making interesting things boring. She couldn't be more dry if she tried. Her essay on separatism wasn't the slightest bit convincing, either. The gist of her argument was that separatism makes men nervous and makes it impossible for them to pursue hierarchic
Feb 25, 2021 rated it it was ok
Overall the book was good. It made me question things and I guess that really was the objective of the book. The essays related to oppression and sexism were really great but when it came to subjects that she wasn't related to (ie gay) she had me lost.
* spoiler *
I think her opinion was really unfair when it came to gay men and what role they played in supremacy. It almost made it sound like it was a sin to be in love with a man, whether you are a man or a woman, which is harmful. Also, her essa
Christopher Mullins
Feb 12, 2022 rated it really liked it
Pretty intense things she's suggesting. Particularly about gay men's role in reinforcing the phallocracy. However intense I also find a bit of truth to it in the sense that male loving can only beget more male loving in an already male loving culture. Although the notion that the goal of the gay rights movement is to create an unlimited, boundless masculinity is a bit out there.

Her other points about feminism and specifically escaping the phallocracy being predicated on the people who keep the b
Jun 15, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2022
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rachel Jackson
Oct 22, 2021 rated it it was ok
It took me months to finish reading The Politics of Reality because for every page of good thought-provoking feminist content, there was another five pages of abstract philosophical gobbledigook that I couldn’t stand. I’d heard vaguely about Marilyn Frye being a highly recommended feminist theorist, which I can’t disagree with, but overall her writing was not for me. I agreed with many of Frye’s points about women’s experiences in the phallocentric world, but I grew frustrated when she would be ...more
⚢ ghazal ⚢
Jan 15, 2022 rated it really liked it
What I liked: almost all of the essays, and how self-aware the writer is of her white privilege and the rift between white and black feminists/feminists of colour.

What I didn't like: the political lesbianism vibes, the grouping of feminists and lesbians, and Frye getting a bit too semantic and philosophical at points. My least favourite essay was unexpectedly the namesake one. Thought it was weak and underwhelming for the title and closing essay.
Mar 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
the kind of non-nonsense practical feminism that ceased to exist after the early 1980s. this book tells you what rooms of the house you an argue in if you are a woman, really. it makes wild claims about abortion politics, then argues until you wonder. it explained things about anger to me that I hadn't though of before. it's a good read. ...more
Jul 06, 2021 rated it liked it
Talk about getting whiplash from a collection of essays... On one hand, "Oppression" and "On Separatism and Power" contained some interesting, thought-provoking ideas. On the other, there's "Lesbian Feminism and The Gay Rights Movement," which offers a plethora of terrible stereotypes about gay men 🙄

Overall, I give it a "meh" for containing some very good essays and some that were unbearable.
Mar 09, 2022 rated it it was ok
has a lot of good points and is fairly fundamental in a lot of its writings but she lost me towards the end.. some of her writings about race and gay men are questionable and her writings on penises borderline terf territory. that being said its a good example of what second wave feminism was like and a lot of her ideas are genius. good but needs to be looked at very critically
Genae Matthews
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A philosopher who I look up to gifted me this book and said that it was so good that she has referenced when writing nearly all of her work. :') The book stood up to even these very high expectations! ...more
Sep 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a very useful book for getting a grip on foundational feminist concepts, especially oppression. I teach something from this book pretty much every year.
Jan 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a seminal work in feminist philosophy. Prepare to read each one through several times in order to get a firm understanding of what's going on. ...more
Jessica Ippolito
Oct 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Impactful. Author successfully articulated many of societies social injustices that usually are overlooked and have been ingrained for centuries.
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Her essay on epistemology (about the loving eye vs. the arrogant eye) is good.
Aug 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a dense but worthwhile read. If you normally are able to consume sociology or history books at a pretty good clip, be prepared to slow down with this one. But the value in the density is immense. It presents arguments that apply not only to feminism (still sadly accurate after nearly 40 years), but to life in general, if you're open to considering them thoroughly.

I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but for anyone interested in thinking deeply about the nature of interaction between gen
Halee Bishop
Jun 05, 2022 rated it it was amazing
The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory is a seminal feminist literary work. Marilyn Frye is foundational to radical theory and her work does a superb job at critiquing the patriarchy and patriarchal ideology at a level which is both foundational and relevatory. The work is by no means the end all for feminist theory as radical feminist ideology cannot address many of the nuances which crip theory, intersectional feminism, indigenous studies, and transnational feminist attempt to addr ...more
Rebecca Zanrè
Apr 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Even if this essays have been written many years ago they still hold a lot of truths in them.
I enjoyed the cage metaphor, the essay on white feminism and the, the essay on Lesbian feminism and gay rights (even though I think that some aspects of them would have be written differently if the book had been written in 2021)
Overall a deep and insightful reading experience.
Feb 08, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism
the essay on race feels about as clunky as i'd expect given that the author is white, but the rest should be mandatory reading. the incisiveness and clarity of frye's writing is striking and this work is as relevant now (if not more) as it was when it was first written. ...more
Erika Levy
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Feminist theory described with utmost clarity. Must read for all.
Nov 09, 2017 rated it liked it
While Frye's theories are thought-provoking and backed with solid evidence, her wording can get muddy in the thick philosophical habit which makes this tiny book a dense read. ...more
Caio Jacon
May 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book. Can’t say I agree with its thesis(es), but definitely interesting.
Sarah Hannah
Dec 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Astonishing! An amazing introduction to feminism.
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Marilyn Frye is an American philosopher and radical lesbian feminist theorist.

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16 likes · 2 comments
“To say that straight men are heterosexual is only to say that they engage in sex (fucking exclusively with the other sex, i.e., women). All or almost all of that which pertains to love, most straight men reserve exclusively for other men. The people whom they admire, respect, adore, revere, honor, whom they imitate, idolize, and form profound attachments to, whom they are willing to teach and from whom they are willing to learn, and whose respect, admiration, recognition, honor, reverence and love they desire… those are, overwhelmingly, other men. In their relations with women, what passes for respect is kindness, generosity or paternalism; what passes for honor is removal to the pedestal. From women they want devotion, service and sex.

Heterosexual male culture is homoerotic; it is man-loving.”
“It seems sometimes that people take a deliberately myopic and fill their eyes with things seen microscopically in order not to see macrosopically.” 11 likes
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