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How to Suppress Women's Writing

How to Suppress Women's Writing

A landmark feminist critique with a new foreword by Jessa Crispin, author of Why I Am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto, this provocative book surveys the forces that work against women who dare to write.

Series: Louann Atkins Temple Women and Culture Endowment

April 2018
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224 pages | 5.5. x 8.5 |

Are women able to achieve anything they set their minds to? In How to Suppress Women’s Writing, award-winning novelist and scholar Joanna Russ lays bare the subtle—and not so subtle—strategies that society uses to ignore, condemn, or belittle women who produce literature. As relevant today as when it was first published in 1983, this book has motivated generations of readers with its powerful feminist critique.

“What is it going to take to break apart these rigidities? Russ’s book is a formidable attempt. It is angry without being self-righteous, it is thorough without being exhausting, and it is serious without being devoid of a sense of humor. But it was published over thirty years ago, in 1983, and there’s not an enormous difference between the world she describes and the world we inhabit.”
—Jessa Crispin, from the foreword

“A book of the most profound and original clarity. Like all clear-sighted people who look and see what has been much mystified and much lied about, Russ is quite excitingly subversive. The study of literature should never be the same again.”
—Marge Piercy

“Joanna Russ is a brilliant writer, a writer of real moral passion and high wit.”
—Adrienne Rich

  • Foreword by Jessa Crispin
  • Prologue
  • 1. Prohibitions
  • 2. Bad Faith
  • 3. Denial of Agency
  • 4. Pollution of Agency
  • 5. The Double Standard of Content
  • 6. False Categorizing
  • 7. Isolation
  • 8. Anomalousness
  • 9. Lack of Models
  • 10. Responses
  • 11. Aesthetics
  • Epilogue
  • Author’s Note
  • Afterword
  • Notes
  • Index


Hugo and Nebula award–winning author Russ was a widely respected feminist science fiction writer best known for the novel The Female Man. She was also a professor of English at the University of Washington who published several collections of essays and literary criticism.

Kansas City, Missouri

Crispin is the founder and editor of She is the author of The Dead Ladies Project and Why I Am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto.


“[A] book that, in a just world, would be assigned in every writing, literature, and art class, and handed to every single high school and college graduate…It's one of the most elegant books of feminist criticism I've ever read.”
Carmen Maria Machado, Electric Literature

“Reading it changed the way I approached criticism and the act of reading itself.”

“Despite how much there is to be angry about, How to Suppress Women's Writing is shot through with hope. . . Likely it won't be remembered long enough or taken seriously enough, but to read this book is to admire this buried tradition, and realize how much there is to be discovered — and how there's no time like the present to look at the marginalized writers you might be missing. "Only on the margins does growth occur," Russ promises, like the guide in a story telling you how to defeat the dragon. Get angry; then get a reading list.”

“Thankfully, with the new release of [the new edition], Russ’ writing is a little less suppressed today than it has ever been. And the anger that sometimes propelled her work has a chance to continue to foment change.”
The Portalist

“Nearly four decades after she penned it, Joanna Russ’ How to Suppress Women’s Writing has just been reissued, and it’s as timely as ever. That’s the problem. The book is exhausting and wry and depressing, a deeply sourced journey through the misogyny of the making of the English literary canon. . . . I don’t need this book. Your son needs this book. Your uncle needs it. Your bartender needs it. Maybe you need it.”
Texas Observer

“If you haven’t read this little book, you should seek it out: it’s still horribly relevant...Russ showed me we can’t sensibly talk about what is most important or of the highest quality without first asking who gets to decide, and based on what criteria?”
The Guardian

“Brilliant and scathing.”
Nicole Rudick, New York Review of Books

“A quirky, irreverent, iconoclastic, idiosyncratic piece of work. It catalogues all the various attitudinal problems and misconceptions ...that allow us to disregard or even discard the artistic productions of women. By defining these patterns so clearly and succinctly, Russ holds a mirror before us—a mirror in which we can see ourselves anew.”
Annette Kolodny

“A book of the most profound and original clarity. Like all clear-sighted people who look and see what has been much mystified and much lied about, Russ is quite excitingly subversive. The study of literature should never be the same again . . .”
Marge Piercy

“Extraordinary and original ...feminist literary criticism rarely explores the social context in which literature is selected for posterity. This, Russ does persuasively, movingly, and in the finest of critical traditions.”
Phyllis Chesler


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This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca