History Literature Publishing

How to Suppress Women’s Writing

How to Suppress Women’s WritingJoanna RussUniversity of
Texas Press

From Wikipedia: Written in the style of a sarcastic and irreverent guidebook, it explains how women are prevented from producing written works, not given credit when such works are produced, or dismissed or belittled for those contributions they are acknowledged to have made. Although primarily focusing on texts written in English, the author also includes examples from non-English works and other media, like paintings. 

The book outlines eleven common methods that are used to ignore, condemn or belittle the work of female authors:

1. Prohibitions: Prevent women from access to the basic tools for writing.
2. Bad Faith: Unconsciously create social systems that ignore or devalue women’s writing.
3. Denial of Agency: Deny that a woman wrote it.
4. Pollution of Agency: Show that their art is immodest, not actually art, or shouldn’t have been written about.
5. The Double Standard of Content: Claim that one set of experiences is considered more valuable than another.
6. False Categorizing: Incorrectly categorize women artists as the wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, or lovers of male artists.
7. Isolation: Create a myth of isolated achievement that claims that only one work or short series of poems is considered great.
8. Anomalousness: Assert that the woman in question is eccentric or atypical.
9. Lack of Models: Reinforce a male author dominance in literary canons in order to cut off women writers’ inspiration and role models.
10. Responses: Force women to deny their female identity in order to be taken seriously.
11. Aesthetics: Popularize aesthetic works that contain demeaning roles and characterizations of women