Disclosure: I don't know Dr. Spender. I wish I did. Her book The Writing or the Sex, or why you don't have to read women's writing to know it's no good is one of the two books that prompted me, at almost age 50, to go back to college. . . twenty years ago.
Feminist Theorists was one of the reference works I used both directly for women's studies classes and indirectly for a lot of others. There are any number of collections of biographies of individual theorists and their theories, and I have several of them, but this is my favorite.
I had taken a lot of notes from it and copied several pages, but it's a fat paperback and the pages didn't photocopy well. As I'm going through this project of scanning my photocopied books and notes and papers, this was one that stood out as "I think I need to see if I can buy a copy and just transfer my notes." Last week I did just that, and my very nice copy arrived from ThriftBooks in no time at all.
As I'm transferring my notes from scribbled pieces of paper and barely-legible photocopies, I'm also rereading a lot, remembering the thrill of discovery that I was not alone and that women had been thinking these same troubling thoughts for literally hundreds of years.
My favorite, though, has to be Matilda Joslyn Gage (1826-1898), the least well-known of the nineteenth century American triumvirate [sic] who led the women's rights movement. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony are almost household names, but not so Matilda.
[Man] does not yet discern [woman's] equal right with himself to impress her own opinions on the world. He still interprets governments and religions as requiring from her an unquestioning obedience to laws she had no share in making.
That's from 1893.
Gage's biography in this 1983 volume is written by Lynne Spender, the editor's sister. She describes Gage as "a grass-roots activist," who opened her upstate New York home as a station on the underground railroad to help escaping slaves reach freedom in Canada and who was active in the temperance movement, which was of vital interest to women who were victims of alcohol-related violence and poverty. She was also an intellectual, who researched and wrote voluminously about how what she called "the Patriarchate" oppressed women's lives.
It's a fun bit of trivia, I think, that Gage's daughter Julia married Lyman Frank Baum, who had not yet written The Wonderful World of Oz, with its intrepid girl hero, Dorothy Gale of Kansas, who manages to get along pretty well without swooning at the first hint of danger or needing the assistance of, ahem, men. (Let's face it, Dorothy already had plenty of brains, heart, and courage and only showed how over-rated these were in, ahem, men.)
Feminist Theorists is still in print and used copies (like mine!) are readily available for modest sums. I highly recommend this particular book to anyone wanting a historical overview of the continuing battle for the rights of women.
I was almost literally on my way out the door to go to dinner when I posted this a while ago.
"Stockholm Syndrome Writ Very Large" is indeed the topic of this book, though not the literal subtitle. But if you're wondering how some women can support and defend the very system that denies them full personhood, allow me to recommend this book.
I haven't read it for almost 20 years, and I only had time this afternoon for the briefest of skims through its pages. It's not a new book -- my edition is copyright 1994 -- and I read it in 1999. But its premise is fairly simple: that women, as a class, are held hostage not by individual men but by the patriarchal system and that to survive in that system, they often feel they have no other choice but to defend it.
This is not an open, admitted, conscious decision. Many women would deny that they are hostages. They will claim to believe the same things the patriarchy asserts about superiority and subservience and submission and inequality. Their sincerity is often beyond question.
Knowing and understanding the reasons why they do what they do may help you in interactions with them. It may help you just walk away from unproductive relationships. It may just help you deal with the world.
I'm struggling today, really struggling. I may not even post this.
My back spasms came back yesterday. It's bad, really bad. I know the reasons, and I can't do anything about it until it at least gets better this time. More exercise. Lose some weight. Get off the couch. Heaven only knows what else.
But there are other things.
I own these books because borrowing them from the library wasn't enough. I had to have them for myself.
I turned on MSNBC for a few minutes, hoping to see Nicolle Wallace. But it was still Brian Williams and the coverage, and I had to turn it off. I don't know who the woman was that was commenting, a young Black woman talking about how she had to take the day off work because she was so emotional, crying, because of all the phone calls and texts calling to ask if she was okay.
Dear goddess, are any of us okay?
What is "real rape"?
Is it only "real rape" when the victim is pure as the driven snow, a virgin martyr to the lust of an evil man?
If she wears a short skirt, it's not real rape.
If she has a drink, it's not real rape.
If her life's not in danger, it's not real rape.
If she didn't fight to the death, it's not real rape.
If she's had sex with him before, it's not real rape.
If she didn't report it to the cops, it's not real rape.
If she's married to him, it's not real rape.
I'm sitting on the couch with the heating pad on my back turned up to high. I'm shivering. I can't cry because it will hurt too much, will trigger the contractions in my back that feel like knives.
I can't talk because no one will believe me, and because if they do believe me other people will be hurt who have no reason to be hurt.
It's never really "real rape."