Joanna Russ Quotes

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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 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”.
Joanna Russ (How to Suppress Women's Writing)
There are plenty of images of women in science fiction. There are hardly any women.
Joanna Russ
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)
Ignorance is not bad faith. But persistence in ignorance is.
Joanna Russ (How to Suppress Women's Writing)
Long before I became a feminist in any explicit way, I had turned from writing love stories about women in which women were losers, and adventure stories about men in which the men were winners, to writing adventure stories about a woman in which the woman won. It was one of the hardest things I ever did in my life.
Joanna Russ
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)
The trouble with men is that they have limited minds. That's the trouble with women, too." ["Existence" (1975)]
Joanna Russ
Minority art, vernacular art, is marginal art. Only on the margins does growth occur.
Joanna Russ
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)
Privileged groups, like everyone else, want to think well of themselves and to believe that they are acting generously and justly.
Joanna Russ (How to Suppress Women's Writing)
Scholars don't usually sit gasping and sobbing in corners of the library stacks. But they should. They should.
Joanna Russ (On Strike Against God)
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)
You can't imbibe someone's success by f*cking them.
Joanna Russ (The Female Man)
That not all men are piggy, only some; that not all men belittle me, only some; that not all men get mad if you won’t let them play Chivalry, only some; that not all men write books in which women are idiots, only most; that not all men pull rank on me, only some; that not all men pinch their secretaries’ asses, only some; that not all men make obscene remarks to me in the street, only some; that not all men make more money than I do, only some; that not all men make more money than all women, only most; that not all men are rapists, only some; that not all men are promiscuous killers, only some; that not all men control Congress, the Presidency, the police, the army, industry, agriculture, law, science, medicine, architecture, and local government, only some. I sat down on the lawn and wept.
Joanna Russ (On Strike Against God)
....thinking you are attacking society when you condemn or ravage the hypothetical Nice Girl Next Door is the exact equivalent of thinking that stealing from the local supermarket makes you a Communist.
Joanna Russ
The demon got up. The demon said Fool. To think you can eat their food and not talk to them. To think you can take their money and not be afraid of them. To think you can depend on their company and not suffer from them.
Joanna Russ (On Strike Against God)
At the level of high culture with which this book is concerned, active bigotry is probably fairly rare. It is also hardly ever necessary, since the social context is so far from neutral. To act in a way both sexist and racist, to maintain one's class privilege, it is only necessary to act in the customary, ordinary, usual, even polite manner.
Joanna Russ (How to Suppress Women's Writing)
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!
Joanna Russ (The Female Man)
And middle-class women, although taught to value established forms, are in the same position as the working class: neither can use established forms to express what the forms were never intended to express (and may very well operate to conceal).
Joanna Russ (How to Suppress Women's Writing)
Leaning her silly, beautiful, drunken head on my shoulder, she said, "Oh, Esther, I don't want to be a feminist. I don't enjoy it. It's no fun." "I know," I said. "I don't either." People think you decide to be a "radical," for God's sake, like deciding to be a librarian or a ship's chandler. You "make up your mind," you "commit yourself" (sounds like a mental hospital, doesn't it?). I said Don't worry, we could be buried together and have engraved on our tombstone the awful truth, which some day somebody will understand: WE WUZ PUSHED.
Joanna Russ (On Strike Against God)
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)
Watch: (1) You do something nasty to me. (2) I hate you. (3) You find it uncomfortable to be hated. (4) You think how nice it would be if I didn't hate you. (5) You decide I ought not to hate you because hate is bad. (6) Good people don’t hate. (7) Because I hate you I am a bad person. (8) It is not what you did to me that makes me hate you, it is my own bad nature. I—not you—am the cause of my hating you.
Joanna Russ
To die on a dying Earth - I'd live, if only to weep.
Joanna Russ (We Who Are About To...)
If you want to live forever you are dreadfully dangerous because you're not living now.
Joanna Russ (We Who Are About To...)
Courage is willful hope.
Joanna Russ (On Strike Against God)
What future is there for a female child who aspires to being Humpfrey Bogart?
Joanna Russ (The Female Man)
An as-yet-unpublished poet in Boulder, Colorado, once said to me that anything worth doing was worth doing badly. I may seem, in the foregoing sketchy pages, to have followed her advice rather too well.
Joanna Russ (How to Suppress Women's Writing)
Somewhere there is a book that says you ought to cry buckets of tears over yourself and love yourself with a passion and wrap your arms around yourself; only then will you be happy and free. That's a good book.
Joanna Russ (On Strike Against God)
After a while you tame your interior monsters, it's only natural. I don't mean that it ever stops; but it stops mattering.
Joanna Russ (On Strike Against God)
Without meaningful work you might as well be dead.
Joanna Russ (We Who Are About To...)
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)
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)
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: OH, SOMEBODY ASIDES ME IS GONNA RUE THIS HERE PARTICULAR DAY.
Joanna Russ (The Female Man)
And here, of course, we come to the one occupation of a female protagonist in literature, the one thing she can do, and by God she does it and does it and does it, over and over and over again. She is the protagonist of a Love Story.
Joanna Russ (To Write Like a Woman: Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction)
Then he said, leaning forward: ‘You’re strange animals, you women intellectuals. Tell me: what’s it like to be a woman?’ I took my rifle from behind my chair and shot him dead. ‘It’s like that,’ I said.
Joanna Russ (On Strike Against God)
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)
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?
Joanna Russ (The Female Man)
I think from now on, I will not trust anyone who isn't angry.
Joanna Russ (How to Suppress Women's Writing)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
There was a very nice boy once who said, "Don't worry, Laura. I know you're really very sweet and gentle underneath." And another with, "You're strong, like an earth mother." And a third, "You're so beautiful when you're angry." My guts on the floor, you're so beautiful when you're angry. I want to be recognized.
Joanna Russ (The Female Man)
I left her wallpapering her much-loved, much-tended little corner of hell.
Joanna Russ (On Strike Against God)
Everyone knows that much as women want to be scientists and engineers, they want foremost to be womanly companions to men (what?)
Joanna Russ (The Female Man)
We would gladly have listened to her (they said) if only she had spoken like a lady. But they are liars and the truth is not in them.
Joanna Russ (The Female Man)
(Only God can make a tree and She seldom tries, nowadays.)
Joanna Russ (On Strike Against God)
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)
At twenty-nine you can’t waste your time reading.
Joanna Russ (The Female Man (S.F. MASTERWORKS Book 35))
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)
I think," said my neighbour, her chin very high in the air (and still spiffed, I am glad to say) "that women who've never married and never had children have missed out on the central experiences of life. They are emotionally crippled." Now what am I supposed to say to that? I ask you. That women who've never won the Nobel Peace Prize have also experienced a serious deprivation? It's like taking candy from a baby; the poor thing isn't allowed to get angry, only catty. I said, "That's rude, and silly," and helped her to mashed potatoes. ...."You can't catch a man." "That's why I'll never be abandoned," said I. Fortunately she did not hear me. Did I say taking candy from babies? Rather, eating babies, killing babies, abandoning babies. So sad, so easy.
Joanna Russ (On Strike Against God)
This is until you’re forty-five, ladies, after which you vanish into thin air like the smile of the Cheshire cat leaving behind only a disgusting grossness and a subtle poison that automatically infects every man under twenty-one.
Joanna Russ (The Female Man)
Civilization must be preserved,' says he. 'Civilization's doing fine,' I said. 'We just don't happen to be where it is.
Joanna Russ (We Who Are About To...)
If you are a woman and wish to become pre-eminent in a field, it's a good idea to (a) invent it and (b) locate it in an area either so badly paid or of such low status that men don't want it
Joanna Russ (How to Suppress Women's Writing)
The idea that any art is achieved 'intuitively' is a dehumanization of the brains, effort, and the traditions of the artist, and a classification of said artist as subhuman. It is those supposed incapable of intelligence, training, or connection with a tradition who are described as working by instinct or intuition.
Joanna Russ (How to Suppress Women's Writing)
He's beginning to like me. I am a better and better audience as I get numbed, and although I've played this game of Impress You (and won it, too--though I don't like either of the prizes; winning is too much like losing) I'm too tired to go on playing tonight.
Joanna Russ (On Strike Against God)
I cannot get into this swamp or I will never get out; and if I start crying again I'll remember that I have no one to love, and if anyone treats me like that again, I'll kill him. Only I mustn't because they'll punish me.
Joanna Russ (On Strike Against God)
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)
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)
The social invisibility of women's experience is not "a failure of human communication." It is a socially arranged bias persisted in long after the information about women's experience is available (sometimes even publicly insisted upon).
Joanna Russ
In my sleep I had a dream and this dream was a dream of guilt. It was not human guilt but the kind of helpless, hopeless despair that would be felt by a small wooden box or geometrical cube if such objects had consciousness; it was the guilt of sheer existence.
Joanna Russ (The Female Man)
If any theme runs through all my work, it is what Adrienne Rich once called "re-vision", i.e., the re-perceiving of experience, not because our experience is complex or subtle or hard to understand (though it is sometimes all three) but because so much of what's presented to us as "the real world" or "the way it is" is so obviously untrue that a great deal of social energy must be mobilized to hide that gross and ghastly fact. has a theatre critic (whose name I'm afraid I've forgotten) once put it," There's less there than meets the eye". Hence, my love for science fiction, which analyses reality by changing it.
Joanna Russ (To Write Like a Woman: Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction)
In my opinion, questions that are based on something real ought to be settled by something real without all this damned lazy miserable drifting
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.
Joanna Russ (The Female Man)
Life has to end. What a pity! Sometimes, when one is alone, the universe presses itself into one's hands: a plethora of joy, an organized plentitude.
Joanna Russ
If you want me to do something else useful, you had better show me what that something else is.
Joanna Russ (The Female Man)
I think it no accident that the myth of the isolated achievement so often promotes women writers' less good work as their best work.
Joanna Russ (How to Suppress Women's Writing)
Until you learn better, you think that a landscaped world can't hurt you or please you, you needn't bother about its soul, you needn't be wary of its good looks. Until you learn better.
Joanna Russ (On Strike Against God)
They validate perceptions that need validating, especially in adolescence--ie, under the bland, forced optimism of American life terrible forces are at work, things are not what they seem, and if you feel lonely, persecuted, a misfit, and in terror, you aren't crazy. You're right.
Joanna Russ (To Write Like a Woman: Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction)
You have on your history," said the artist, "and we're not used to that, believe me. Not to history. Not to old she-wolves with livid marks running up their ribs and arms, and not to the idea of fights in which people are neither painlessly killed nor painlessly fixed up but linger and die--slowly--or heal--slowly.
Joanna Russ (Picnic on Paradise)
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 often wonder why women have careers,' said Shredded Napkin suddenly, showing his teeth. I don't think he can possibly be saying what I think he's saying. He isn't, of course. Never mind. I'll stand this because Reality is dishing it out and I suppose I ought to learn to adjust to it. Besides, he may be sincere. There is a human being in there. At least he isn't telling me about something he read in the paper on women's liberation and then laughing at it.
Joanna Russ (On Strike Against God)
When the memory of one's predecessors is buried, the assumption persists that there were none and each generation of women believes itself to be faced with the burden of doing everything for the first time. And if no one ever did it before, if no woman was ever that socially sacred creature, "a great writer," why do we think we can succeed now?
Joanna Russ (How to Suppress Women's Writing)
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)
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)
(Ezekial saw the wheel (Way up in the middle of the air -- (O Ezekial saw the wheel (Way in the middle of the air! (Now the big wheel runs by faith (And the little wheel runs by the grace of God -- (The above made up by professional hope experts, you might say, because willful, voluntary, intentional hope was the only kind they had in anything like long supply. Faith is not, contrary to the usual ideas, something that turns out to be right or wrong, like a gambler's bet; it's an act, an intention, a project, something that makes you, in leaping into the future, go so far, far, far ahead that you shoot clean out of Time and right into Eternity, which is not the end of time or a whole lot of time or unending time, but timelessness, that old Eternal Now. So that you end up living not in the future ((in your intentional "act of faith")) but in the present. After all. (Courage is willful hope.)
Joanna Russ (On Strike Against God)
I know you're competent and your thesis advisor knows you're competent. The question in our minds is are you really serious about what you're doing?" This was said to a young woman who had already spent five years and over $10,000 getting to that point in her Ph.D. program.
Joanna Russ (How to Suppress Women's Writing)
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)
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 Longing Jokes Leaves falling off the trees (where deciduous) Acquiring new shoes Wearing same Birth The contemplation of a work of art Marriages Sport Divorces Anything at all Nothing at all Great ideas Death
Joanna Russ (The Female Man)
The re-evaluation and rediscovery of minority art (including the cultural minority of women) is often conceived as a matter of remedying injustice and exclusiveness through doing justice to individual artists by allowing their work into the canon, which will thereby be more complete, but fundamentally unchanged.
Joanna Russ (How to Suppress Women's Writing)
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? I AM HONEY I AM RASPBERRY JAM I AM A VERY GOOD LAY I AM A GOOD DATE I AM A GOOD WIFE I AM GOING CRAZY Everything was peaches and cream.
Joanna Russ (The Female Man)
For years I have been saying Let me in, Love me, Approve me, Define me, Regulate me, Validate me, Support me. Now I say Move over.
Joanna Russ
you can’t imbibe someone’s success by fucking them.
Joanna Russ (The Female Man)
somebody called somebody else Slotface
Joanna Russ (We Who Are About To...)
WE WUZ PUSHED.
Joanna Russ (On Strike Against God)
I have had my share of trouble and sickness but always somewhere in me there is a little spot of warmth and joy to make it all easier, like a traveler's fire burning out in the wilderness on a cold night.
Joanna Russ (Extra (Ordinary) People)
When the memory of one’s predecessors is buried, the as­sumption persists that there were none and each generation of women believes itself to be faced with the burden of doing everything for the first time.
Joanna Russ (How to Suppress Women's Writing)
What I learned late in life, under my rain of lava, under my kill-or-cure, unhappily, slowly, stubbornly, barely, and in really dreadful pain, was that there is one and only one way to possess that in which we are defective, therefore that which we need, therefore that which we want. Become it.
Joanna Russ (The Female Man)
If Earth had been hit by plague, by fire, by war, by radiation, sterility, a thousand things, you name it, I'd still stand by her; I love her; I would fight every inch of the way there because my whole life is knit to her. And she'd need mourners. To die on a dying Earth- I'd live, if only to weep.
Joanna Russ (We Who Are About To...)
The reply to this was that Three took out a small revolver, and this surprised me; for everyone knows that anger is most intense towards those you know: it is lovers and neighbors who kill each other. There's no sense, after all, in behaving that way toward a perfect stranger; where's the satisfaction? No love, no need; no need, no frustration; no frustration, no hate, right? It must have been fear.
Joanna Russ
We would gladly have listened to her (they said) if only she had spoken like a lady. But they are liars and the truth is not in them. Shrill… vituperative… no concern for the future of society… maunderings of antiquated feminism… selfish femlib… needs a good lay… this shapeless book… of course a calm and objective discussion is beyond… twisted, neurotic… some truth buried in a largely hysterical… of very limited interest, I should… another tract for the trash-can… burned her bra and thought that… no characterization, no plot… really important issues are neglected while… hermetically sealed… women's limited experience… another of the screaming sisterhood… a not very appealing aggressiveness… could have been done with wit if the author had… deflowering the pretentious male… a man would have given his right arm to… hardly girlish… a woman's book… another shrill polemic which the… a mere male like myself can hardly… a brilliant but basically confused study of feminine hysteria which… feminine lack of objectivity… this pretense at a novel… trying to shock… the tired tricks of the anti-novelists… how often must a poor critic have to… the usual boring obligatory references to Lesbianism… denial of the profound sexual polarity which… an all too womanly refusal to face facts… pseudo-masculine brusqueness… the ladies'-magazine level… trivial topics like housework and the predictable screams of… those who cuddled up to ball-breaker Kate will… unfortunately sexless in its outlook… drivel… a warped clinical protest against… violently waspish attack… formidable self-pity which erodes any chance of… formless… the inability to accept the female role which… the predictable fury at anatomy displaced to… without the grace and compassion which we have the right to expect… anatomy is destiny… destiny is anatomy… sharp and funny but without real weight or anything beyond a topical… just plain bad… we "dear ladies," whom Russ would do away with, unfortunately just don't feel… ephemeral trash, missiles of the sex war… a female lack of experience which… Q. E. D. Quod erat demonstrandum. It has been proved.
Joanna Russ (The Female Man)
The impulse behind fantasy I find to be dissatisfaction with literary realism. Realism leaves out so much. Any consensual reality (though wider even than realism) nonetheless leaves out a great deal also. Certainly one solution to the difficulty of treating experience that is not dealt with in the literary tradition, or even in consensual reality itself, is to 'skew' the reality of the piece of fiction, that is, to employ fantasy. [...] After all, reality is--collectively speaking--a social invention and is not itself really real. Individually, it is as much something human beings do as it is something refractory that is prior to us and outside of us. [...] When I was seventeen and in a writing class in college, I learned that the kinds of things I wrote about--things that came out of my experience as a seventeen-year-old girl--were not serious literary subjects. My realism wouldn't do. So I decided at some point to write fantasy and science fiction. (I did love them!) Nobody could pull me up on the importance or the accuracy of those. The stories in this book are here because they are good stories and because they are part of a fascinating tradition of fantasy. But they are also here (I suspect) because many fine writers who are women have discovered that fantasy, fantastic elements and methods, or simply even the tone of fantasy, give them the method to handle the specifically female elements of their experience in a way that the literary tradition of realism was designed not to do. And I once thought I was the only one!
Joanna Russ
What did we talk about? I don't remember. We talked so hard and sat so still that I got cramps in my knee. We had too many cups of tea and then didn't want to leave the table to go to the bathroom because we didn't want to stop talking. You will think we talked of revolution but we didn't. Nor did we talk of our own souls. Nor of sewing. Nor of babies. Nor of departmental intrigue. It was political if by politics you mean the laboratory talk that characters in bad movies are perpetually trying to convey (unsuccessfully) when they Wrinkle Their Wee Brows and say (valiantly--dutifully--after all, they didn't write it) "But, Doctor, doesn't that violate Finagle's Constant?" I staggered to the bathroom, released floods of tea, and returned to the kitchen to talk. It was professional talk. It left my grey-faced and with such concentration that I began to develop a headache. We talked about Mary Ann Evans' loss of faith, about Emily Brontë's isolation, about Charlotte Brontë's blinding cloud, about the split in Virginia Woolf's head and the split in her economic condition. We talked about Lady Murasaki, who wrote in a form that no respectable man would touch, Hroswit, a little name whose plays "may perhaps amuse myself," Miss Austen, who had no more expression in society than a firescreen or a poker. They did not all write letters, write memoirs, or go on the stage. Sappho--only an ambiguous, somewhat disagreeable name. Corinna? The teacher of Pindar. Olive Schriener, growing up on the veldt, wrote on book, married happily, and ever wrote another. Kate Chopin wrote a scandalous book and never wrote another. (Jean has written nothing.). There was M-ry Sh-ll-y who wrote you know what and Ch-rl-tt- P-rk-ns G-lm-an, who wrote one superb horror study and lots of sludge (was it sludge?) and Ph-ll-s Wh--tl-y who was black and wrote eighteenth century odes (but it was the eighteenth century) and Mrs. -nn R-dcl-ff- S-thw-rth and Mrs. G--rg- Sh-ld-n and (Miss?) G--rg-tt- H-y-r and B-rb-r- C-rtl-nd and the legion of those, who writing, write not, like the dead Miss B--l-y of the poem who was seduced into bad practices (fudging her endings) and hanged herself in her garter. The sun was going down. I was blind and stiff. It's at this point that the computer (which has run amok and eaten Los Angeles) is defeated by some scientifically transcendent version of pulling the plug; the furniture stood around unknowing (though we had just pulled out the plug) and Lady, who got restless when people talked at suck length because she couldn't understand it, stuck her head out from under the couch, looking for things to herd. We had talked for six hours, from one in the afternoon until seven; I had at that moment an impression of our act of creation so strong, so sharp, so extraordinarily vivid, that I could not believe all our talking hadn't led to something more tangible--mightn't you expect at least a little blue pyramid sitting in the middle of the floor?
Joanna Russ (On Strike Against God)
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)
Well, of course, you can't expect people to rearrange their minds in five minutes. And I'm not good at this. And I don't want to do it. It's a bore, anyway. Unfortunately I know what will happen if I keep on; I'll say that if we are going to talk about these things, let us please talk about them seriously and our fake Britisher will say that he always takes pretty girls seriously and then I'll say I don't you cut off your testicles and shove them down your throat? and then I'll lose my job and then I'll commit suicide. I once hit a man with a book but that was at a feminist meeting and anyway I didn't hit him really, because he dodged. I have never learned the feminine way of cutting a man down to size, although I can imagine how to do it, but truth to tell, that would go against what I believe, that men must live up to such awful things.
Joanna Russ (On Strike Against God)
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)
Vi racconterò una storia sulla vecchia filosofa di Whileaway – è un personaggio popolare tra di noi, assai divertente a suo modo, o come diciamo noi “scabrosa”. La Vecchia Filosofa di Whileaway era seduta a gambe incrociate in mezzo alle sue discepole (come al solito) quando, senza la minima spiegazione, introdusse le dita nella vagina, le estrasse e domandò: «Che cosa ho qui?». Le discepole rifletterono tutte molto profondamente. «La vita», disse una giovane donna. «La forza», disse un’altra. «I lavori domestici», disse una terza. «Il passare del tempo», disse la quarta, «e la tragica irreversibilità della verità organica». La vecchia filosofa di Whileaway emise un fischio che le fece azzittire. Era immensamente divertita da questa passione per l’invenzione di miti. «Esercitate le vostre fantasie proiettive», disse, «sulla gente che non può replicare», e aprendo la sua mano, mostrò loro che le dita erano perfettamente prive di sangue, in parte perché aveva centrotré anni e aveva da tempo superato la menopausa, e in parte perché era appena morta quella mattina. Poi battè un colpo violento sulla testa e sulle spalle delle sue discepole con la sua stampella e sparì. Due delle discepole ottennero immediatamente l’Illuminazione, la terza s’inquietò violentemente per l’impostura e andò a vivere come un’eremita nelle montagne, mentre la quarta – completamente disillusa dalla filosofia, che le parve tutto sommato un gioco da imbroglioni – abbandonò per sempre il filosofare per intraprendere il lavoro di dragaggio dei porti insabbiati.
Joanna Russ (The Female Man)