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To Write Like a Woman: Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction Paperback – June 22, 1995

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About the Author

JOANNA RUSS has published science-fiction novels, short stories, and criticism for thirty-five years and has been active as a feminist for twenty-five. Her books include The Female Man, The Two of Them, How to Suppress Women’s Writing, and Magic Mommas, Trembling Sisters, Puritans and Perverts: Feminist Essays.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; First Printing edition (June 22, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253209838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253209832
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,028,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
First, I have one of the essays in this book to thank for getting me started on Darkover. If only for that, it deserves a few stars.
Beyond that, it's difficult not to enjoy reading an essay that narrowly missed being titled "The Triumph of the Flasher." Russ writes clearly and humorously of the problems that face women connected with the written word -- both as authors and as characters (often in stories written by men).
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The subtitle of this book, "Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction," describes it pretty accurately. All the essays deal with writing in some way; all but a few do so from a specifically feminist point of view.

And Russ was not one of your wishy-washy feminists, but a woman of fierce, clear intellect, fully aware of the nature of our patriarchal (and racist, and classist, and ...) society and what women (and PoCs, and poor folks, and...) face in it. She wrote with wit and style and her essays are a pleasure to read, even when they are painful.

Some of them, in the first part, are specifically about genre science fiction/fantasy/horror. One explains the appeal of H.P. Lovecraft; another, the last in the first part, takes down the film version of "A Boy and His Dog" (while offering some - sparing - praise for Harlan Ellison's original story).

But it is the second part that really shines. "What Can a Heroine Do? or, Why Women Can't Write" is a classic text, which I have seen referenced many times, and which I am glad to finally have read. In this, Russ discusses how the master-plots of "acceptable" (i.e., patriarchal) literature don't work with female protagonists _as defined by patriarchy_, so (and this is the subject of another essay, on the Modern Gothic) female protagonists must be passive, rather than active; and women's literature must be lyrical, rather than narrative.

(I'm botching this terribly; what she says so clearly is very hard to summarize.
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