The Female Man Quotes

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The Female Man The Female Man by Joanna Russ
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The Female Man Quotes (showing 1-30 of 43)
“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
“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
“I'm not a girl. I'm a genius. ”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“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
“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
“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
“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:

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
“Finding The Man. Keeping The Man. Not scaring The Man, building up The Man, following The Man, soothing The Man, flattering The Man, deferring to The Man, changing your judgement for The Man, changing your decisions for The Man, polishing floors for The Man, being perpetually conscious of your appearance for The Man, being romantic for The Man, hinting to The Man, losing yourself in The Man. 'I never had a thought that wasn't yours.' Sob, sob. Whenever I act like a human being, they say, 'What are you getting upset about?' They say: of course you'll get married. They say: of course you're brilliant. They say: of course you'll get a PhD and then sacrifice it to have babies. They say: if you don't, you're the one who'll have two jobs and you can make a go of it if you're exceptional, which very few women are, and if you find a very understanding man. As long as you don't make more money than he does. How do they expect me to live all this junk?”
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
“You can't imbibe someone's success by f*cking them.”
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
“At thirteen desperately watching TV, curling my long legs under me, desperately reading books, callow adolescent that I was, trying (desperately!) to find someone in books, in movies, in life, in history, to tell me it was O.K. to be ambitious, O.K. to be loud, O.K. to be Humphrey Bogart (smart and rudeness), O.K. to be James Bond (arrogance), O.K. to be Superman (power), O.K. to be Douglas Fairbanks (swashbuckling), to tell me self-love was all right, to tell me I could love God and Art and Myself better than anything on earth and still have orgasms.”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“The little blue book was rattling around in my purse. I took it out and turned to the last thing he had said ("You stupid broad et cetera). Underneath was written Girl backs down--cries--manhood vindicated. Under "Real Fight With Girl" was written Don't hurt (except whores). I took out my own pink book, for we all carry them, and turning to the instructions under "Brutality" found:
Man's bad temper is the woman's fault. It is also the woman's responsibility to patch things up afterwards.
There were sub-rubrics, one (reinforcing) under "Management" and one (exceptional) under "Martyrdom." Everything in my book begins with an M.”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“I said Jeannine why are you unhappy?
I'm not unhappy.
You have everything (I said). What is there that you want and haven't got?
I want to die.
Do you want to be an airplane pilot? is that it? And they won't let you? Did you have a talent for mathematics, which they squelched? Did they refuse to let you be a truck driver? What is it?
I want to live.
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“She's a bright girl. She learned in her thirteenth year that you can get old films of Mae West or Marlene Dietrich (who is a Vulcan; look at the eyebrows) after midnight on UHF if you know where to look, at fourteen that pot helps, at fifteen that reading's even better. She learned, wearing her rimless glasses, that the world is full of intelligent, attractive, talented women who manage to combine careers with their primary responsibilities as wives and mothers and whose husbands beat them. She's put a gold circle pin on her shirt as a concession to club day. She loves her father and once is enough. Everyone knows that much as women want to be scientists and engineers, they want foremost to be womanly companions to men (what?) and caretakers of childhood; everyone knows that a large part of a woman's identity inheres in the style of her attractiveness. Laur is daydreaming. She looks straight before her, blushes, smiles, and doesn't see a thing... Laur is daydreaming that she's Genghis Khan.”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
tags: women
“There's no being out too late in Whileaway, or up too early, or in the wrong part of town, or unescorted. You cannot fall out of the kinship web and become sexual prey for strangers, for there is no prey and there are no strangers -- the web is world-wide. In all of Whileaway there is no one who can keep you from going where you please (though you may risk your life, if that sort of thing appeals to you), no one who will follow you and try to embarrass you by whispering obscenities in your ear, no one who will attempt to rape you, no one who will warn you of the dangers of the street, no one who will stand on street corners, hot-eyed and vicious, jingling loose change in his pants pocket, bitterly bitterly sure that you're a cheap floozy, hot and wild, who likes it, who can't say no, who's making a mint off it, who inspires him with nothing but disgust, and who wants to drive him crazy.”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“I’m a sick woman, a madwoman, a ball-breaker, a man-eater; I don’t consume men gracefully with my fire-like red hair or my poisoned kiss; I crack their joints with these filthy ghoul’s claws and standing on one foot like a de-clawed cat, rake at your feeble efforts to save yourselves with my taloned hinder feet: my matted hair, my filthy skin, my big fat plaques of green bloody teeth. I don’t think my body would sell anything. I don’t think I’d be good to look at. O of all diseases self-hate is the worst and I don’t mean for the one who suffers it!”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“Men succeed. Women get married.
Men fail. Women get married.
Men enter monasteries. Women get married.
Men start wars. Women get married.
Men stop them. Women get married.”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“What future is there for a female child who aspires to being Humpfrey Bogart?”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“She said that instead of conquering Everest, I could conquer the conqueror of Everest and while he had to go climb the mountain, I could stay home in lazy comfort listening to the radio and eating chocolates. She was upset, I suppose, but you can't imbibe someone's success by fucking them.”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“Now having Brynhildic fantasies about her was nothing--I have all sorts of extraordinary fantasies which I don't take seriously--but bringing my fantasies into the real world frightened me very much. It's not that they were bad in themselves, but they were Unreal and therefore culpable; to try to make Real what was Unreal was to mistake the very nature of things; it was a sin not against conscience (which remained genuinely indifferent during the whole affair) but against Reality, and of the two the latter is far more blasphemous. It's the crime of creating one's own Reality, of "preferring oneself" as a good friend of mine says.”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“There is this business of the narcissism of love, the fourth-dimensional curve that takes you out into the other who is the whole world, which is really a twist back into yourself, only a different self.”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
tags: love
“In college, educated women (I found out) were frigid; active women (I knew) were neurotic; women (we all knew) were timid, incapable, dependent, nurturing, passive, intuitive, emotional, unintelligent, obedient, and beautiful. You can always get dressed up and go to a party. Woman is the gateway to another world; Woman is the earth-mother; Woman is the eternal siren; Woman is purity; Woman is carnality; Woman has intuition; Woman is the life-force; Woman is selfless love.

"I am the gateway to another world," (said I, looking in the mirror) "I am the earth-mother; I am the eternal siren; I am purity," (Jeez, new pimples) "I am carnality; I have intuition; I am the life-force; I am selfless love." (Somehow it sounds different in the first person, doesn't it?)

Honey (said the mirror, scandalised) Are you out of your fucking mind?
Everything was peaches and cream.”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“Se levanta y hace la cama, luego recoge del suelo unos libros de bolsillo (novelas policíacas) y los pone en la librería. Tiene ropa que lavar antes de irse, ropa que guardar, medias que emparejar y meter en los cajones. Envuelve la basura en papel de periódico y baja tres pisos para dejarla en el cubo de la basura. Saca los calcetines de Cal de detrás de la cama y los sacude, dejándolos sobre la mesa de la cocina. Hay trapos que lavar, hollín en el alféizar de las ventanas, cacerolas en remojo por fregar, hay que poner un plato bajo el radiador por si funciona durante la semana (se sale). Oh. Aj. Que se queden las ventanas como están, aunque a Cal no le gusta verlas sucias. Esa espantosa tarea de restregar el retrete, pasarle el plumero a los muebles. Ropa para planchar. Siempre se caen cosas cuando recoges otras. Se agacha una y otra vez. La harina y el azúcar se derraman sobre los estantes que hay encima de la pila y tiene que pasar un paño; hay manchas y salpicaduras, hojas de rábano podridas, incrustaciones de hielo dentro de la vieja nevera (hay que mantener la puerta abierta con una silla, para que se descongele). Pedazos de papel, caramelos, cigarrillos y ceniza por toda la habitación. Tiene que quitarle el polvo a todo. Decide limpiar las ventanas a pesar de todo, porque quedan más bonitas. Estarán asquerosas después de una semana. Por supuesto, nadie la ayuda. Nada tiene la altura adecuada. Añade los calcetines de Cal a la ropa de ambos que tiene que llevar a la lavandería de autoservicio, hace un montón separado con la ropa de él que tiene que coser, y pone la mesa para sí misma. Raspa los restos de comida del plato del gato, y le pone agua limpia y leche. «Mr. Frosty» no parece andar por allí. Debajo de la pila encuentra un paño de cocina, lo recoge y lo cuelga sobre la pila, se recuerda a sí misma que tiene que limpiar allí abajo más tarde, y se sirve cereales, té, tostadas y zumo de naranja. (El zumo de naranja es un paquete del gobierno de naranja y pomelo en polvo y sabe a demonios.) Se levanta de un salto para buscar la fregona debajo de la pila, y el cubo, que también debe estar por allí. Es hora de fregar el suelo del cuarto de baño y el cuadrado de linóleo que hay delante de la pila y la cocina. Primero termina el té, deja la mitad del zumo de naranja y pomelo (haciendo una mueca) y algo del cereal. La leche vuelve a la nevera —no, espera un momento, tírala—, se sienta un minuto a escribir una lista de comestibles para comprarlos en el camino del autobús a casa, cuando vuelva dentro de una semana. Llena el cubo, encuentra el jabón, lo deja, friega sólo con agua. Lo guarda todo. Lava los platos del desayuno. Coge una novela policíaca y la hojea, sentada en el sofá. Se levanta, limpia la mesa, recoge la sal que ha caído en la alfombra y la barre. ¿Eso es todo? No, hay que arreglar la ropa de Cal y la suya. Oh, déjalo. Tiene que hacer la maleta y preparar la comida de Cal y la suya (aunque él no se marcha con ella). Eso significa volver a sacar las cosas de la nevera y volver a limpiar la mesa, dejar pisadas en el linóleo otra vez. Bueno, no importa. Lava el plato y el cuchillo. Ya está. Decide ir por la caja de costura para arreglar la ropa de él, cambia de opinión. Coge la novela policíaca. Cal dirá: «No has cosido mi ropa.» Va a coger la caja de costura del fondo del armario, pisando maletas, cajas, la tabla de plancha, su abrigo y ropa de invierno. Pequeñas manos salen de la espalda de Jeannine y recogen lo que ella tira. Se sienta en el sofá y arregla el desgarrón de la chaqueta de verano de él, cortando el hilo con los dientes. Vas a estropearte el esmalte. Botones. Zurce tres calcetines. (Los otros están bien.) Se frota los riñones. Cose el forro de una falda que está descosido. Limpia zapatos. Hace una pausa y mira sin ver. Luego reacciona y con aire de extraordinaria energía saca la maleta mediana del armario y empieza a meter su ropa para”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“I tried once, you know, went to a dance all dressed up, but I felt like such a fool. Everyone kept making encouraging remarks about my looks as if they were afraid I'd cross back over the line again; I was trying, you know, I was proving their way of life was right, and they were terrified I'd stop.”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
What Whileawayans Celebrate

The full moon
The Winter solstice (You haven't lived if you haven't seen us running around in our skivvies, banging on pots and pans, shouting "Come back, sun! Goddammit, come back! Come back!")
The Summer solstice (rather different)
The autumnal equinox
The vernal equinox
The flowering of trees
The flowering of bushes
The planting of seeds
Happy copulation
Unhappy copulation
Leaves falling off the trees (where deciduous)
Acquiring new shoes
Wearing same
The contemplation of a work of art
Anything at all
Nothing at all
Great ideas
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“Aggressive and bellicose persons," said Janet with care, "always assume that unaggressive and pacific persons cannot protect themselves.
"Why is that?”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“Do not get glum when you are no longer understood, little book. Do not curse your fate. Do not reach up from readers' laps and punch the readers' noses.
Rejoice, little book!
For on that day, we will be free”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
“Vivo entre dos mundos. La mitad del tiempo me gusta hacer las labores domésticas, me importa mucho mi aspecto, me interesan mucho los hombres y coqueteo maravillosamente (quiero decir que realmente les admiro, aunque me moriría antes de tomar la iniciativa; eso es cosa de hombres), nunca defiendo mi opinión en las conversaciones, y me gusta cocinar. Me gusta hacer cosas por los demás, sobre todo por los hombres. Duermo bien, me despierto a la hora en punto y no sueño. Solamente tengo un defecto:

Soy frígida.

En mi otra encarnación vivo tal cúmulo de conflictos que te parecería imposible que sobreviva, pero sí sobrevivo; me despierto enfurecida, me acuesto paralizada por el desánimo, me enfrento con lo nue sé perfectamente que es condescendencia y desprecio abstracto, me peleo, grito, me enojo con personas que ni siquiera conozco, vivo como si fuera la única mujer del mundo que está intentando conseguirlo todo, trabajo como una loca, lleno todo mi apartamento de notas, artículos, manuscritos y libros, me cabreo, no me importa, me pongo estridentemente pendenciera, a veces río y lloro en el espacio de cinco minutos de pura frustración. Tardo dos horas en dormirme y una en despertarme. Sueño ante mi mesa de despacho. Sueño en todos sitios. Voy muy mal vestida.

Pero ¡oh, cómo gozo la comida! Y ¡oh, cómo jodo!”
Joanna Russ, The Female Man

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