An Open Letter to Joanna Russ

I’ve read this one before, but I want to bring it up again:

So I’m going to tell you about it, Ms. Russ, because I think I’ve just discovered another strategy to suppress women’s writing. You wrote the book, How to Suppress Women’s Writing, describing in gory detail all the different ways that have been used to disallow, prevent, discourage, disbelieve, discredit, devalue, ignore, categorize, debase, forget, ridicule, malign, redefine, re-evaluate, and otherwise suppress women’s writing. I’m sure that you meant to warn us with your book–to warn us that the suppressive strategies are still around, armed and dangerous–and that it’s important for women to recognize them and to work against them. But still, I remember (or perhaps I imagined) an up-beat ending to your book and I’m surprised that there really is no happy ending. That the business is still going on today…

It was not one or two or a mere scattering of women, after all, who participated in women’s renaissance in science fiction. It was a great BUNCH of women: too many to discourage or ignore individually, too good to pretend to be flukes. In fact, their work was so pervasive, so obvious, so influential, and they won so many of the major awards, that their work demands to be considered centrally as one looks back on the late ’70s and early ’80s. They broadened the scope of Sf exploration from mere technology to include personal and social themes as well. Their work and their (our) concerns are of central importance to any remembered history or critique. Ah ha, I thought, how could they suppress THAT?!

Gotta scream louder. Write better. It’ll get done. Trouble is, after it’s done, will anybody remember?

(via Mumpsimus)

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