Samuel R. Delany via Ron Drummond reports that Joanna Russ, the author of The Female Man and What Are We Fighting For?: Sex, Race, Class, and the Future of Feminism, among many other works of science fiction and scholarship, has been admitted to hospice after suffering a series of strokes. According to Drummond, Delany says that Russ is “slipping away” and has long had a “Do Not Resuscitate” on file.
May she go in peace to the Goddess -- or Whileaway -- or wherever she wants.
I love Joanna Russ. She spoke to my condition when nobody else would or could.
I've posted this elsewhere:
Can you wonder that I spent my childhood scrounging books wherever I could find them? My home town (Jackson, PA, pop. 35) is midway between Scranton, PA, and Binghamton, NY. Visits to my orthodontist in Scranton were my big chance to stop in at a junk shop where sometimes there were paperbacks. And once, memorably, Again, Dangerous Visions in hardback. It cost me a quarter. I read "When It Changed" right there in the store, kneeling by the back shelves, tears pouring down my face -- a 14-year-old dyke who wasn't alone in the universe any more.
If I'd realized that at the time she was actually teaching at SUNY Binghamton, I'd have crawled there on my knees. Decades later I was able to send her a fan letter through the offices of a good friend, and I have a scrawled postcard in reply.
Recent interview about slash.
Joanna Russ Interview with Samuel Delany (WisCon 30 event)
Joanna Russ quotes
Take away my life but don't take away the meaning of my life.
Civilization means access. The only question about access is why some get it and some don't.
Long before I became a feminist in any explicit way, I had turned from writing love stories about women in which women were losers, and adventure stories about men in which the men were winners, to writing adventure stories about a woman in which the woman won. It was one of the hardest things I ever did in my life.
Faith is not, contrary to the usual ideas, something that turns out to be right or wrong, like a gambler's bet: it's an act, an intention, a project, something that makes you, in leaping into the future, go so far, far, far ahead that you shoot clean out of time and right into Eternity, which is not the end of time or a whole lot of time or unending time, but timelessness, the old Eternal Now.
Maybe Gloria Steinem can tell the difference between pornography and erotica at a single glance. I can't.
Minority art, vernacular art, is marginal art. Only on the margins does growth occur.
Art is collective. Always, it has a tradition behind it.
When the memory of one’s predecessors is buried, the assumption persists that there were none and each generation of women believes itself to be faced with the burden of doing everything for the first time. And if no one ever did it before ... why do we think we can succeed now?
Quotes from The Female Man (some from the POV of characters)
As my mother once said, "The boys throw stones at the frog in jest. But the frogs die in earnest."
I'm not a girl. I'm a genius.
It was not human guilt but the kind of helpless, hopeless despair that would be felt by a small wooden box or geometrical cube if such objects had consciousness; it was the guilt of sheer existence.... I was dirty. I was crying. I demanded comfort. I was being inconvenient. I did not disappear into thin air. And if that isn't guilt, what is?
Do you enjoy playing with other people’s children—for ten minutes? Good! This reveals that you have Maternal Instinct and you will be forever wretched if you do not instantly have a baby of your own....
Are you lonely? Good! This shows that you have Feminine Incompleteness; get married and do all your husband’s personal services, buck him up when he’s low, teach him about sex (if he wants you to), praise his technique (if he doesn’t), have a family if he wants a family....
Do you like men’s bodies? Good! This is beginning to be almost as good as getting married. This means that you have True Womanliness, which is fine unless you want to do it with him on the bottom and you on the top.
You can't imbibe someone's success by fucking them.
His contribution is Make me feel good; her contribution is Make me exist.
Women only have feelings, men have Egos.
I had, at seventeen, an awful conversation with my mother and father in which they told me how fine it was to be a girl—the pretty clothes...and how I did not have to climb Everest, but could listen to the radio and eat bon-bons while my Prince was out doing it.... There is the vanity training, the obedience training, the self-effacement training, the deference training, the dependency training, the passivity training, the rivalry training, the stupidity training, the placation training.
My diction is becoming feminine, thus revealing my true nature...I have no structure...my thoughts seep out shapelessly like menstrual fluid, it is all very female and deep and full of essences, it is very primitive and full of ‘and’s,’ it is called ‘run-on sentences’.
To resolve contrarieties, unite them in your own person.
If we are all Mankind, then it follows to my interested and righteous and rightnow very bright and beady little eyes, that I too am a Man and not at all a woman.
What it [a sex toy] does to your body...is nothing compared to what it does to your mind, Jeannine. It will ruin your mind. It will explode in your brains and drive you crazy. You will never be the same again. You will be lost to respectability and decency and decorum and dependency and all sorts of other nice, normal things beginning with a D.
I’ve never slept with a girl. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t want to. That’s abnormal and I’m not, although you can’t be normal unless you do what you want and you can’t be normal unless you love men. To do what I wanted would be normal, unless what I wanted was abnormal, in which case it would be abnormal to please myself and normal to do what I didn’t want to do, which isn’t normal.
I was not guilty because I murdered. I murdered because I was guilty.
I like Jael the best of all.... who says die if you must but loop your own intestines around the neck of your strangling enemy.
For years I have been saying Let me in, Love me, Approve me, Define me, Regulate me, Validate me, Support me. Now I say Move over.
ETA More quotes
Love is a radiation disease.
In love as in pain, in misery, in trouble.
If you expect me to observe your taboos, I think you will have to be more precise as to exactly what they are.
Anyone who lives in two worlds ... is bound to have a complicated life.
There is some barrier between Jeannine and real life that can be removed only by a man or by marriage.
O of all diseases self-hate is the worst and I don't mean for the one who suffers it!
Men's suits are designed to inspire confidence even if the men can't.
This book is written in blood.
Is it written entirely in blood?
No, some of it is written in tears.
Are the blood and tears all mine?
Yes, they have been in the past. But the future is a different matter.
Praise God, Whose image we put in the plaza to make the eleven-year-olds laugh. She has brought me home.
Oh, Joanna. Verweile doch, du bist so schoen.