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29 April 2011 @ 08:08 pm
It seems so fittingly SFnal that I first heard about her death on Twitter, early this morning.

I encountered her feminist critical essays before I knew her as an SF writer, oddly enough, though I was reading widely with a foot in each of those worlds. By the time I discovered her fiction, though, I'd already developed a profound respect for Russ as a thinker, a philosopher, and a visionary:

In a nominally egalitarian society the ideal situation (socially speaking) is one in which the members of the "wrong" groups have the freedom to engage in literature (or equally significant activities) and yet do not do so, thus proving that they can't. But, alas, give them the least real freedom and they will do it. The trick thus becomes to make the freedom as nominal a freedom as possible and then—since some of the so-and-so's will do it anyway—develop various strategies for ignoring, condemning, or belittling the artistic works that result. If properly done, these strategies result in a social situation in which the "wrong" people are (supposedly) free to commit literature, art, or whatever, but very few do, and those who do (it seems) do it badly, so we can all go home to lunch.
The methods indicated above are varied but tend to occur in certain key areas: informal prohibitions (including discouragement and the inaccessibility of materials and training), denying the authorship of the work in question (this ploy ranges from simple misattribution to psychological subtleties that make the head spin), belittlement of the work itself in various ways, isolation of the work from the tradition to which it belongs and its consequent presentation as anomalous, assertions that the work indicates the author's bad character and hence is of primarily scandalous interest or ought not to have been done at all (this did not end with the nineteenth century), and simply ignoring the works, the workers, and the whole tradition, the most commonly employed technique and the hardest to combat.
What follows is not intended as a history. Rather it's a sketch of an analytic tool: patterns in the suppression of women's writing.
--From How To Suppress Women's Writing, by Joanna Russ

I'm sad that I never met her, since she profoundly influenced so much of how I think about writing and about being a woman. I am grateful, though, that in keeping with traditional singing of tales about our passing heroes,  TNH remembers Joanna Russ.
What I'm listening to:: Sanvean, Lisa Gerrard