Russ, J. (1983). How to suppress women’s writing. University of Texas Press.
The cover of Russ’s book does an excellent job of summarising its main argument: that women’s writing is deliberately devalued in a range of ways. It’s on the wrong subject matter, it’s the wrong genre, it’s morally objetionable, it’s not proper art. In 1983 Russ wasn’t writing specifically about fan fiction (yet), but fan fiction readers and writers will recognise these tactics employed against them. “She wrote about men banging! And it most definitely isn’t art – it’s derivative and unoriginal!”
One of my favourite moments in the book comes towards the end, when after some self-reflection Russ realises that she and other white women within academia and the feminist movement have been employing exactly the same tactics to devalue Black women’s writing. With recent debates on race in both fandom and Fan Studies, this powerful moment of realisation is worth keeping in mind.
The cover of How to suppress women’s writing by Joanna Russ, which consists of the following text:
She didn’t write it. But if it’s clear she did the deed… She wrote it but she shouldn’t have. (It’s political, sexual, masculine, feminist.) She wrote it, but look what she wrote about. (The bedroom, the kitchen, her family. Other women!) She wrote it, but she wrote only one of it. (“Jane Eyre. Poor dear, that’s all she ever… “) She wrote it, but she isn’t really an artist, and it isn’t really art. (It’s a thriller, a romance, a children’s book. It’s sci fi!) She wrote it, but she had help. (Robert Browning. Branwell Brontë. Her own “masculine side.”) She wrote it, but she’s an anomaly. (Woolf. With Leonard’s help…) She wrote it BUT