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Available Means

Available Means: An Anthology Of Women'S Rhetoric(s)

Joy Ritchie
Kate Ronald
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  • Book Info
    Available Means
    Book Description:

    "I say that even later someone will remember us."-Sappho, Fragment 147, sixth century, BCSappho's prediction came true; fragments of work by the earliest woman writer in Western literate history have in fact survived into the twenty-first century. But not without peril. Sappho's writing remains only in fragments, partly due to the passage of time, but mostly as a result of systematic efforts to silence women's voices. Sappho's hopeful boast captures the mission of this anthology: to gather together women engaged in the art of persuasion-across differences of race, class, sexual orientation, historical and physical locations-in order to remember that the rhetorical tradition indeed includes them.Available Meansoffers seventy women rhetoricians-from ancient Greece to the twenty-first century-a room of their own for the first time. Editors Joy Ritchie and Kate Ronald do so in the feminist tradition of recovering a previously unarticulated canon of women's rhetoric. Women whose voices are central to such scholarship are included here, such as Aspasia (a contemporary of Plato's), Margery Kempe, Margaret Fuller, and Ida B. Wells. Added are influential works on what it means to write as a woman-by Virginia Woolf, Adrienne Rich, Nancy Mairs, Alice Walker, and Hélène Cixous. Public "manifestos" on the rights of women by Hortensia, Mary Astell, Maria Stewart, Sarah and Angelina Grimké, Anna Julia Cooper, Margaret Sanger, and Audre Lorde also join the discourse.ButAvailable Meanssearches for rhetorical tradition in less obvious places, too. Letters, journals, speeches, newspaper columns, diaries, meditations, and a fable (Rachel Carson's introduction to Silent Spring) also find places in this room. Such unconventional documents challenge traditional notions of invention, arrangement, style, and delivery, and blur the boundaries between public and private discourse. Included, too, are writers whose voices have not been heard in any tradition. Ritchie and Ronald seek to "unsettle" as they expand the women's rhetorical canon.Arranged chronologically,Available Meansis designed as a classroom text that will allow students to hear women speaking to each other across centuries, and to see how women have added new places from which arguments can be made. Each selection is accompanied by an extensive headnote, which sets the reading in context. The breadth of material will allow students to ask such questions as "How might we define women's rhetoric? How have women used and subverted traditional rhetoric?"A topical index at the end of the book provides teachers a guide through the rhetorical riches.Available Meanswill be an invaluable text for rhetoric courses of all levels, as well as for women's studies courses.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7975-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

    (pp. xv-xxxiv)

    Sappho’s prediction came true; fragments of work by the earliest woman writer in Western literate history have in fact survived into the twenty-first century, but not without peril. Sappho’s writing remains only in fragments, partly due to the passage of time, but mostly as a result of systematic efforts to silence women’s voices and prevent women’s speaking and writing. Although Sappho does not appear in this anthology, her hopeful boast captures the impetus behind our efforts here: gathering women’s rhetorics together in order to remember that the rhetorical tradition indeed includes women. Yet, making that simple statement was not so...

  2. “Pericles’ Funeral Oration” from Plato’s Menexenus (c. 387–367 B.C.E.)
    (pp. 2-8)

    Socrates:But why, my friend, should he not have plenty to say? Every rhetorician has speeches ready-made, nor is there any difficulty in improvising that sort of stuff. Had the orator to praise Athenians among Peloponnesians, or Peloponnesians among Athenians, he must be a good rhetorician who could succeed and gain credit. But there is no difficulty in a man’s winning applause when he is contending for fame among the persons whom he is praising.

    Menexenus:Do you think not, Socrates?

    Socrates:Certainly not.

    Menexenus:Do you think that you could speak yourself if there should be a necessity, and...

  3. “On Love” from Plato’s Symposium (c. 360 B.C.E.)
    (pp. 10-15)

    And now I’m going to leave you in peace, because I want to talk about some lessons I was given, once upon a time, by a Mantinean woman called Diotima—a woman who was deeply versed in this and many other fields of knowledge. It was she who brought about a ten years’ postponement of the great plague of Athens on the occasion of a certain sacrifice, and it was she who taught me the philosophy of Love. And now I am going to try to connect her teaching—as well as I can without her help—with the conclusions...

  4. “Speech to the Triumvirs” (42 B.C.E.)
    (pp. 17-19)

    While these events were taking place, Lepidus enjoyed a triumph for his exploits in Spain, and an edict was displayed in the following terms: “May fortune favour us. Let it be proclaimed to all men and women that they celebrate this day with sacrifices and feasting. Whoever shall fail to do so shall be put on the list of the proscribed.” Lepidus led the triumphal procession to the Capitol, accompanied by all the citizens, who showed the external appearance of joy, but were sad at heart. The houses of the proscribed were looted, but there were not many buyers of...

  5. From “Letter I. Heloise to Abelard” (1132)
    (pp. 21-24)

    To her master, or rather her father, husband, or rather brother, his handmaid, or rather his daughter, wife, or rather sister; to Abelard, Heloise.

    Not long ago, my beloved, by chance someone brought me the letter of consolation you had sent to a friend. I saw at once from the superscription that it was yours, and was all the more eager to read it since the writer is so dear to my heart. I hoped for renewal of strength, at least from the writer’s words which would picture for me the reality I have lost. But nearly every line of...

  6. From Revelations of Divine Love (c. 1390s)
    (pp. 26-28)
    Julian of Norwich

    In the chosen, wickedness is turned into blessedness through mercy and grace, for the nature of God is to do good for evil, through Jesus, our mother in kind grace; and the soul which is highest in virtue is the meekest, that being the ground from which we gain other virtues.

    And we have all this blessedness through mercy and grace; a kind of blessedness which we might never have known if the quality of goodness which is God had not been opposed. It is by this means that we gain this blessedness; for wickedness has been allowed to rise...

  7. “Letter 83: To Mona Lapa, her mother, in Siena” (1376)
    (pp. 30-31)
    Catherine of Siena

    In the name of Jesus Christ crucified and of gentle Mary.

    Dearest mother in Christ gentle Jesus,

    Your poor unworthy daughter Caterina wants to comfort you in the precious blood of God’s Son. How I have longed to see you truly the mother of my soul as well as of my body! For I know that if you love my soul more than you love my body, any excessive attachment you may have will die, and my physical absence won’t be so wearing on you. No, it will even bring you consolation, and you will be ready to bear any...

  8. From The Book of the City of Ladies (1404)
    (pp. 33-42)
    Christine de Pizan

    One day as I was sitting alone in my study surrounded by books on all kinds of subjects, devoting myself to literary studies, my usual habit, my mind dwelt at length on the weighty opinions of various authors whom I had studied for a long time. I looked up from my book, having decided to leave such subtle questions in peace and to relax by reading some light poetry. With this in mind, I searched for some small book. By chance a strange volume came into my hands, not one of my own, but one which had been given to...

  9. From The Book of Margery Kempe (1436)
    (pp. 44-47)
    Margery Kempe

    Here begins a short account that will offer sinful wretches both consolation and comfort as well as some understanding of the high and inexpressible mercy of our sovereign Savior Jesus Christ. His blessed name be worshiped and made known forever; for even in our own lifetimes he has been so good as to show us his majesty and kindness in spite of our unworthiness. All our Savior’s workings are to teach and guide us, and the grace he works in every creature brings benefit to us all providing we are not without his loving charity.

    Therefore our merciful Lord, Jesus...

  10. “To the Troops at Tilbury” (1588)
    (pp. 49-49)
    Queen Elizabeth I

    We have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit our selves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear, I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat...

  11. From Jane Anger Her Protection for Women . . . (1589)
    (pp. 51-60)
    Jane Anger

    Gentlewomen, though it is to be feared that your settled wits will advisedly condemn that which my choleric vein hath rashly set down, and so perchance Anger shall reap anger for not agreeing with diseased persons, yet, if with indifferency of censure you consider of the head of the quarrel, I hope you will rather show yourselves defendants of the defender’s title than complainants of the plaintiff’s wrong. I doubt judgement before trial, which were injurious to the law; and I confess that my rashness deserveth no less, which was a fit of my extremity. I will not urge reasons...

  12. From A Mouzzel for Melastomus (1617)
    (pp. 62-65)
    Rachel Speght

    To all vertuous Ladies Honourableor Worshipfull, and to all other of Hevahs sex fearing God, and loving their just reputation, grace and peace through Christ, to eternaIl glory.

    It was the similie of that wise and learnedLactantius,that if fire, though but with a small sparke kindled, bee not at the first quenched, it may worke great mischiefe and dammage: So likewise may the scandals and defamations of the malevolent in time prove pernitious, if they bee not nipt in the head at their first appearance. The consideration of this (right Honourable and Worshipfull Ladies) hath incited me...

  13. From Womens Speaking Justified, Proved and Allowed by the Scriptures (1666)
    (pp. 67-70)
    Margaret Fell

    Whereas it hath been an objection in the minds of many, and several times hath been objected by the clergy, or ministers, and others, against womens speaking in the Church; and so consequently may be taken, that they are condemned for meddling in the things of God; the ground of which objection, is taken from the Apostles words, which he writ in his first Epistle to theCorinthians,chap. 14. verso 34, 35. And also what he writ toTimothyin the first Epistle, chap. 2, verso 11, 12. But how far they wrong the Apostles intentions in these Scriptures,...

  14. From “La Respuesta” (1691)
    (pp. 72-78)
    Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

    My most illustriousseñora,dear lady. It has not been my will, my poor health, or my justifiable apprehension that for so many days delayed my response. How could I write, considering that at my very first step my clumsy pen encountered two obstructions in its path? The first (and, for me, the most uncompromising) is to know how to reply to your most learned, most prudent, most holy, and most loving letter. For I recall that when Saint Thomas, the Angelic Doctor of Scholasticism, was asked about his silence regarding his teacher Albertus Magnus, he replied that he had...

  15. From A Serious Proposal to the Ladies (1694)
    (pp. 80-83)
    Mary Astell

    Since the Profitable Adventures that have gone abroad in the world have met with so great Encouragement, tho’ the highest advantage they can propose, is an uncertain Lot for such matters as Opinion, not real worth, gives a value to; things which if obtained are as flitting and fickle as that Chance which is to dispose of them; I therefore persuade my self, you will not be less kind to a Proposition that comes attended with more certain and substantial Gain; whose only design is to improve your Charms and heighten your Value, by suffering you no longer to be...

  16. “Letter to Lady Bute” (1753)
    (pp. 85-88)
    Mary Wortley Montagu

    You have given me a great deal of Satisfaction by your account of your eldest Daughter. I am particularly pleas’d to hear she is a good Arithmetician; it is the best proofe of understanding. The knowledge of Numbers is one of the cheif distinctions between us and Brutes. If there is any thing in Blood, you may reasonably expect your children should be endow’d with an uncommon Share of good Sense. Mr. Wortley’s Family and mine have both produce’d some of [the] greatest Men that have been born in England. I mean Admiral Sandwich, and my Great Grandfather who was...

  17. “Petition of an African Slave” (1782)
    (pp. 90-91)

    Petition of an African Slave, to the legislature of Massachusetts.

    To the honourable the senate and the house of representatives, in general court assembled:

    The petition of Belinda, an African,

    Humbly shews,

    That seventy years have rolled away, since she, on the banks of the Rio de Yalta, received her existence. The mountains, covered with spicy forests—the vallies; loaded with the richest fruits, spontaneously produced—joined to the happy temperature of air, which excludes excess, would have yielded her the most complete felicity, had not her mind received early impressions of the cruelty of men, whose faces were like...

  18. From A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)
    (pp. 93-105)
    Mary Wollstonecraft

    After considering the historic page, and viewing the living world with anxious solicitude, the most melancholy emotions of sorrowful indignation have depressed my spirits, and I have sighed when obliged to confess, that either nature has made a great difference between man and man, or that the civilization which has hitherto taken place in the world has been very partial. I have turned over various books written on the subject of education, and patiently observed the conduct of parents and the management of schools; but what has been the result?—a profound conviction that the neglected education of my fellow-creatures is...

  19. “Cherokee Women Address Their Nation” (1817)
    (pp. 107-108)
    Cherokee Women

    [A True Copy] The Cherokee ladys now being present at the meeting of the chiefs and warriors in council have thought it their duties as mothers to address their Chiefs and warriors now assembled.

    Our beloved children and head men of the Cherokee nation we address you warriors in council we have raised all of you on the land which we now have, which God gave us to inhabit and raise provisions we know that our country has once been extensive but by repeated sales has become circumscribed to a small tract and never thought it...

  20. “Lecture Delivered at the Franklin Hall” (1832)
    (pp. 110-113)
    Maria W. Stewart

    Why sit ye here and die? If we say we will go to a foreign land, the famine and the pestilence are there, and there we shall die. If we sit here, we shall die. Come let us plead our cause before the whites: if they save us alive, we shall live—and if they kill us, we shall but die.

    Methinks I heard a spiritual interrogation—“Who shall go forward, and take off the reproach that is cast upon the people of color? Shall it be a woman?” And my heart made this reply—“If it is thy...

  21. “Letter to Theodore Weld” (1837)
    (pp. 115-118)
    Sarah Grimké

    Angelina is so wrathy that I think it will be unsafe to trust the pen in her hands to reply to thy two last bad long letters. As I feel nothing but gratitude for the kindness which I am sure dictated them, commingled with wonder at the “marvellables” which they contain, I shall endeavor to answer them and as far as possible allay the uneasiness which thou seems to feel at the course we are pursuing. My astonishment is as great at thy misconceptions as thine can be at ours. Truly if I did not know brother Theodore...

  22. “Address at Pennsylvania Hall” (1838)
    (pp. 120-124)
    Angelina Grimké Weld

    Men, brethren and fathers—mothers, daughters and sisters, what came ye out for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? Is it curiosity merely, or a deep sympathy with the perishing slave, that has brought this large audience together?(A yell from the mob without the building.)Those voices without ought to awaken and call out our warmest sympathies. Deluded beings! “they know not what they do” [Luke 23:34]. They know not that they are undermining their own rights and their own happiness, temporal and eternal. Do you ask, “what has the North to do with...

  23. From Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845)
    (pp. 126-137)
    Margaret Fuller

    Of all its banners, none has been more steadily upheld, and under none have more valor and willingness for real sacrifices been shown, than that of the champions of the enslaved Mrican. And this band it is, which, partly from a natural following out of principles, partly because many women have been prominent in that cause, makes, just now, the warmest appeal in behalf of woman.

    Though there has been a growing liberality on this subject, yet society at large is not so prepared for the demands of this party, but that they are and will...

  24. “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” (1848)
    (pp. 139-142)
    Seneca Falls Convention

    When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain...

  25. “Speech at the Woman’s Rights Convention, Akron, Ohio” (1851)
    (pp. 144-146)
    Sojourner Truth

    Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out o’ kilter. I think that ‘twixt the Negroes of the South and the women of the North all a-talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon.

    But what’s all this here talking about? That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud puddles or gives me any best place(and raising herself...

  26. “We Are All Bound Up Together” (1866)
    (pp. 148-150)
    Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

    I feel I am something of a novice upon this platform. Born of a race whose inheritance has been outrage and wrong, most of my life had been spent in battling against those wrongs. But I did not feel as keenly as others, that I had these rights, in common with other women, which are now demanded. About two years ago, I stood within the shadows of my home. A great sorrow had fallen upon my life. My husband had died suddenly, leaving me a widow, with four children, one my own, and the others stepchildren. I tried to keep...

  27. From The United States of America v. Susan B. Anthony (1873)
    (pp. 152-156)
    Susan B. Anthony

    D.A. Richard Crowley:May it please the Court and Gentlemen of the Jury: ... The defendant, Miss Susan B. Anthony ... voted for a representative in the Congress of the United States, to represent the 29th Congressional District of this State, and also for a representative at large for the State of New York to represent the State in the Congress of the United States. At that time she was a woman. I suppose there will be no question about that ... whatever Miss Anthony’s intentions may have been—whether they were good or otherwise—she did not have a...

  28. From Life Among the Piutes (1883)
    (pp. 158-162)
    Sarah Winnemucca

    One day the commanding officer sent for me. Oh, how my heart did jump! I said to Mattie, “There is bad news.” Truly I had not felt like this since the night Egan was killed by the Umatillas. I got ready and went down to the office, trembling as if something fearful was waiting for me. I walked into the office. Then the officer said to me,—

    Sarah, I have some news to tell you and I want you to keep it still until we are sure if it will be true.”

    I then promised I would keep it still...

  29. “The Higher Education of Women” (1892)
    (pp. 164-170)
    Anna Julia Cooper

    In the very first year of our century, the year 1801, there appeared in Paris a book by Silvain Marechal, entitled “Shall Woman Learn the Alphabet.” The book proposes a law prohibiting the alphabet to women, and quotes authorities weighty and various, to prove that the woman who knows the alphabet has already lost part of her womanliness. The author declares that woman can use the alphabet only as Moliere predicted they would, in spelling out the verbamo;that they have no occasion to peruse Ovid’sArs Amaris,since that is already the ground and limit of their intuitive...

  30. From “The Solitude of Self” (1892)
    (pp. 172-178)
    Elizabeth Cady Stanton

    The point I wish plainly to bring before you on this occasion is the individuality of each human soul; our Protestant idea, the right of individual conscience and judgment; our republican idea, individual citizenship. In discussing the rights of woman, we are to consider, first, what belongs to her as an individual, in a world of her own, the arbiter of her own destiny, an imaginary Robinson Crusoe, with her woman Friday on a solitary island. Her rights under such circumstances are to use all her faculties for her own safety and happiness.

    Secondly, if we consider her as a...

  31. From “The Intellectual Progress of the Colored Women of the United States since the Emancipation Proclamation” (1893)
    (pp. 180-187)
    Fannie Barrier Williams

    Less than 30 years ago the term progress as applied to colored women of African descent in the United States would have been an anomaly. The recognition of that term today as appropriate is a fact full of interesting significance. That the discussion of progressive womanhood in this great assemblage of the representative women of the world is considered incomplete without some account of the colored women's status is a most noteworthy evidence that we have not failed to impress ourselves on the higher side of American life.

    Less is known of our women than of any other class of...

  32. “Lynch Law in All its Phases” (1893)
    (pp. 189-203)
    Ida B. Wells

    I am before the American people to-day through no inclination of my own, but because of a deep-seated conviction that the country at large does not know the extent to which lynch law prevails in parts of the Republic, nor the conditions which force into exile those who speak the truth. I cannot believe that the apathy and indifference which so largely obtains regarding mob rule is other than the result of ignorance of the true situation. And yet, the observing and thoughtful must know that in one section, at least, of our common country, a government of the people,...

  33. From Women and Economics (1898)
    (pp. 205-210)
    Charlotte Perkins Gilman

    Without touching yet upon the influence of the social factors, treating the human being merely as an individual animal, we see that he is modified most by his economic conditions, as is every other animal. Differ as they may in color and size, in strength and speed, in minor adaptation to minor conditions, all animals that live on grass have distinctive traits in common, and all animals that eat flesh have distinctive traits in common, so distinctive and so common that it is by teeth, by nutritive apparatus in general, that they are classified, rather than by means of defence...

  34. “The Present Status of Rhetorical Theory” (1900)
    (pp. 212-217)
    Gertrude Buck

    Two opposing conceptions of the nature of discourse bequeathed to us from classic times still struggle for dominance in our modern rhetorical theory—the social conception of Plato and the anti-social conception of the Sophists. The latter, though known to us only fragmentarily from allusions and quotations in later treatises, can be, in its essential outlines, easily reconstructed. According to the sophistic teaching, discourse was simply a process of persuading the hearer to a conclusion which the speaker, for any reason, desired him to accept. Analyzed further, this familiar definition discloses certain significant features.

    First of all it conveys, though somewhat...

  35. From Correct Writing and Speaking (1904)
    (pp. 219-222)
    Mary Augusta Jordan

    The desire for rules and standards is an expression of human nature in one or more of its aspiring, its self-satisfied, or its despairing moods. Rules and standards may point to perfection, may rest in the easily attainable, or may make the best of a bad matter. Or, in still other words, rules and standards may be ideals, or conventions, or observed facts.

    From this difference of meaning springs much confusion of thought in all subjects where rules and standards are applicable. Rule is made to stand for at once too much or too little. Standards are treated now as...

  36. “Letter to the Readers of The Woman Rebel” (1914)
    (pp. 224-225)
    Margaret Sanger

    Every paper published should have a message for its readers. It should deliver it and be done.The Woman Rebelhad for its aim the imparting of information for the prevention of conception. (None of the suppressed issues contained such information.) It was not the intention to labor for years advocating the idea, but to give the information directly to those who desired it. The March, May, July, August, September, and October issues have been suppressed and confiscated by the Post Office. They have been mailed regularly to all subscribers. If you have not received your copies, it has been...

  37. From “Marriage and Love” (1914)
    (pp. 227-232)
    Emma Goldman

    Marriage is primarily an economic arrangement, an insurance pact. It differs from the ordinary life insurance agreement only in that it is more binding, more exacting. Its returns are insignificantly small compared with the investments. In taking out an insurance policy one pays for it in dollars and cents, always at liberty to discontinue payments. If, however, woman’s premium is a husband, she pays for it with her name, her privacy, her self-respect, her very life, “until death doth part.” Moreover, the marriage insurance condemns her to life-long dependency, to parasitism, to complete uselessness, individual as well as social. Man,...

  38. “Facing Life Squarely” (1927)
    (pp. 234-236)
    Alice Dunbar Nelson

    The Girl Reserves in their beautiful ritual promise to “face life squarely.” Surely, a most essential thing for all young girls to know; to learn to look with honest, clear-eyed vision at life, stripping away shams and non-essentials, facing facts and not being lured from the truth by silly reticences and repressions.

    I wish that every girl of our race could learn the code of the Girl Reserves—at least that one part of it. And I wish that every Aframerican woman in this country could take as the essential basic element of her life this one thing—to face life squarely....

  39. “Memorial Day in Chicago” (1937)
    (pp. 238-240)
    Dorothy Day

    Have you ever heard a man scream as he was beaten over the head by two or three policemen with clubs and cudgels? Have you ever heard the sickening sounds of blows and seen people with their arms upraised, trying to protect their faces, stumbling blindly to get away, failing and rising again to be beaten down? Did you ever see a man shot in the back, being dragged to his feet by policemen who tried to force him to stand, while his poor body crumpled, paralyzed by a bullet in the spine?

    We are sickened by stories of brutality...

  40. “Professions for Women” (1942)
    (pp. 242-246)
    Virginia Woolf

    When your secretary invited me to come here, she told me that your Society is concerned with the employment of women and she suggested that I might tell you something about my own professional experiences. It is true I am a woman; it is true I am employed; but what professional experiences have I had? It is difficult to say. My profession is literature; and in that profession there are fewer experiences for women than in any other, with the exception of the stage—fewer, I mean, that are peculiar to women. For the road was cut many years ago—by Fanny...

  41. “Crazy for This Democracy” (1945)
    (pp. 248-251)
    Zora Neale Hurston

    They tell me this democracy form of government is a wonderful thing. It has freedom, equality, justice, in short, everything! Since 1937 nobody has talked about anything else.

    The late Franklin D. Roosevelt sort of re-decorated it, and called these United States the boastful name of “The Arsenal of Democracy.”

    The radio, the newspapers, and the columnists inside the newspapers, have said how lovely it was.

    All this talk and praise-giving has got me in the notion to try some of the stuff. All I want to do is to get hold of a sample of the thing, and I...

  42. From the Introduction to The Second Sex (1952)
    (pp. 253-258)
    Simone de Beauvoir

    For a long time I have hesitated to write a book on woman. The subject is irritating, especially to women; and it is not new. Enough ink has been spilled in the quarreling over feminism, now practically over, and perhaps we should say no more about it. It is still talked about, however, for the voluminous nonsense uttered during the last century seems to have done little to illuminate the problem. Mter all, is there a problem? And if so, what is it? Are there women, really? Most assuredly the theory of the eternal feminine still has its adherents who...

  43. “A Fable for Tomorrow” (1962)
    (pp. 260-261)
    Rachel Carson

    There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings. The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of prosperous farms, with fields of grain and hillsides of orchards where, in spring, white clouds of bloom drifted above the green fields. In autumn, oak and maple and birch set up a blaze of color that flamed and flickered across a backdrop of pines. Then foxes barked in the hills and deer silently crossed the fields, half hidden in the mists of the fall mornings.

    Along the roads, laurel,...

  44. “The Special Plight and the Role of the Black Woman” (1971)
    (pp. 263-266)
    Fannie Lou Hamer

    The special plight and the role of black women is not something that just happened three years ago. We’ve had a special plight for 350 years. My grandmother had it. My grandmother was a slave. She died in 1960. She was 136 years old. She died in Mount Bayou, Mississippi.

    It’s been a special plight for the black woman. I remember my uncles and some of my aunts—and that’s why it really tickled me when you talked about integration. Because I’m very black, but I remember some of my uncles and some of my aunts was as white as anybody...

  45. “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision” (1971)
    (pp. 268-282)
    Adrienne Rich

    The Modern Language Association is both marketplace and funeral parlor for the professional study of Western literature in North America. Like all gatherings of the professions, it has been and remains a “procession of the sons of educated men” (Virginia Woolf): a congeries of old-boys’ networks, academicians rehearsing their numb canons in sessions dedicated to the literature of white males, junior scholars under the lash of “publish or perish” delivering papers in the bizarrely lit drawing-rooms of immense hotels: a ritual competition veering between cynicism and desperation.

    However, in the interstices of these gentlemanly rites (or, in Mary Daly’s words,...

  46. From “Sorties” (1975)
    (pp. 284-290)
    Hélène Cixous

    Writing femininity tranformation:

    And there is a link between the economy of femininity—the open, extravagant subjectivity, that relationship to the other in which the gift doesn’t calculate its influence—and the possibility of love; and a link today between this “libido of the other” and writing.

    At the present time,defininga feminine practice of writing is impossible with an impossibility that will continue; for this practice will never be able to betheorized, enclosed, coded, which does not mean it does not exist. But it will always exceed the discourse governing the phallocentric system; it takes place and will take...

  47. “The Combahee River Collective Statement” (1977)
    (pp. 292-300)
    Combahee River Collective

    We are a collective of Black feminists who have been meeting together since 1974. During that time we have been involved in the process of defining and clarifying our politics, while at the same time doing political work within our own group and in coalition with other progressive organizations and movements. The most general statement of our politics at the present time would be that we are actively committed to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression, and see as our particular task the development of integrated analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of...

  48. “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” (1977)
    (pp. 302-305)
    Audre Lorde

    I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect. I am standing here as a black lesbian poet, and the meaning of all that waits upon the fact that I am still alive, and might not have been. Less than two months ago I was told by doctors, one female and one male, that I would have to have breast surgery, and that there was a 60...

  49. “Letter to Ma” (1980)
    (pp. 307-313)
    Merle Woo

    I was depressed over Christmas, and when New Year’s rolled around, do you know what one of my resolves was? Not to come by and see you as much anymore. I had to ask myself why I get so down when I’m with you, my mother, who has focused so much of her life on me, who has endured so much; one who I am proud of and respect so deeply for simply surviving.

    I suppose that one of the main reasons is that when I leave your house, your pretty little round white table in the dinette where we...

  50. “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens” (1983)
    (pp. 315-322)
    Alicer Walker

    When the poet Jean Toomer walked through the South in the early twenties, he discovered a curious thing: black women whose spirituality was so intense, so deep, sounconscious, that they were themselves unaware of the richness they held. They stumbled blindly through their lives: creatures so abused and mutilated in body, so dimmed and confused by pain, that they considered themselves unworthy even of hope. In the selfless abstractions their bodies became to the men who used them, they became more than “sexual objects,” more even than mere women: they became “Saints.” Instead of being perceived as whole persons,...

  51. From A Feeling for the Organism (1983)
    (pp. 324-329)
    Evelyn Fox Keller

    If Barbara McClintock’s story illustrates the fallibility of science, it also bears witness to the underlying health of the scientific enterprise. Her eventual vindication demonstrates the capacity of science to overcome its own characteristic kinds of myopia, reminding us that its limitations do not reinforce themselves indefinitely. Their own methodology allows, even obliges, scientists to continually reencounter phenomena even their best theories cannot accommodate. Or—to look at it from the other side—however severely communication between science and nature may be impeded by the preconceptions of a particular time, some channels always remain open; and, through them, nature finds ways of...

  52. “I Want A Twenty-Four Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape” (1983)
    (pp. 331-339)
    Andrea Dworkin

    I have thought a great deal about how a feminist, like myself, addresses an audience primarily of political men who say that they are antisexist. And I thought a lot about whether there should be a qualitative difference in the kind of speech I address to you. And then I found myself incapable of pretending that I really believe that that qualitative difference exists. I have watched the men’s movement for many years. I am close with some of the people who participate in it. I can’t come here as a friend even though I might very much want to....

  53. “Grandmother of the Sun: Ritual Gynocracy in Native America” (1986)
    (pp. 341-355)
    Paula Gunn Allen

    There is a spirit that pervades everything, that is capable of powerful song and radiant movement, and that moves in and out of the mind. The colors of this spirit are multitudinous, a glowing, pulsing rainbow. Old Spider Woman is one name for this quintessential spirit, and Serpent Woman is another. Corn Woman is one aspect of her, and Earth Woman is another, and what they together have made is called Creation, Earth, creatures, plants, and light.

    At the center of all is Woman, and no thing is sacred (cooked, ripe, as the Keres Indians of Laguna Pueblo say it)...

  54. “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” (1987)
    (pp. 357-365)
    Gloria Anzaldúa

    “We’re going to have to control your tongue,” the dentist says, pulling out all the metal from my mouth. Silver bits plop and tinkle into the basin. My mouth is a motherlode.

    The dentist is cleaning out my roots. I get a whiff of the stench when I gasp. “I can’t cap that tooth yet, you’re still draining,” he says.

    “We’re going to have to do something about your tongue,” I hear the anger rising in his voice. My tongue keeps pushing out the wads of cotton, pushing back the drills, the long thin needles. “I’ve never seen anything as...

  55. “Don’t You Talk About My Momma!” (1987)
    (pp. 367-376)
    June Jordan

    When I was growing up, the one sure trigger to a down-and-out fight was to say something—anything—about somebody’s mother. As a matter of fact, we refined things, eventually, to the point where you didn’t have to get specific. All you had to do was push into the face of another girl or boy and, close as you could, almost nose to nose, just spit out the two words: “Your mother!” This item of our code of honor was not negotiable and, clearly, we took it pretty seriously: even daring to refer to someone’s mother put you off-limits. From the time...

  56. From Woman, Native, Other (1989)
    (pp. 378-381)
    Trinh T. Minh-ha

    Neither black/red/yellow nor woman but poet or writer. For many of us, the question of priorities remains a crucial issue. Being merely “a writer” without doubt ensures one a status of far greater weight than being “a woman of color who writes” ever does. Imputing race or sex to the creative act has long been a means by which the literary establishment cheapens and discredits the achievements of non-mainstream women writers. She who “happens to be” a (nonwhite) Third World member, a woman, and a writer is bound to go through the ordeal of exposing her work to the abuse...

  57. “Homeplace (a site of resistance)” (1990)
    (pp. 383-390)
    bell hooks

    When I was a young girl the journey across town to my grandmother’s house was one of the most intriguing experiences. Mama did not like to stay there long. She did not care for all that loud talk, the talk that was usually about the old days, the way life happened then—who married whom, how and when somebody died, but also how we lived and survived as black people, how the white folks treated us. I remember this journey not just because of the stories I would hear. It was a movement away from the segregated blackness of our community...

  58. “Carnal Acts” (1990)
    (pp. 392-400)
    Nancy Mairs

    Inviting me to speak at her small liberal-arts college during Women’s Week, a young woman set me a task: “We would be pleased,” she wrote, “if you could talk on how you cope with your M.S. disability, and also how you discovered your voice as a writer.” Oh, Lord, I thought in dismay, how am I going to pull this one off? How can I yoke two such disparate subjects into a coherent presentation, without doing violence to one, or the other, or both, or myself? This is going to take some fancy footwork, and my feet scarcely carry out...

  59. “The Clan of One-Breasted Women” (1991)
    (pp. 402-408)
    Terry Tempest Williams

    I belong to a Clan of One-Breasted Women. My mother, my grandmothers, and six aunts have all had mastectomies. Seven are dead. The two who survive have just completed rounds of chemotherapy and radiation.

    I’ve had my own problems: two biopsies for breast cancer and a small tumor between my ribs diagnosed as a “borderline malignancy.”

    This is my family history.

    Most statistics tell us breast cancer is genetic, hereditary, with rising percentages attached to fatty diets, childlessness, or becoming pregnant after thirty. What they don’t say is living in Utah may be the greatest hazard of all.

    We are...

  60. “The Death of the Profane” (1991)
    (pp. 410-415)
    Patricia Williams

    Buzzers are big in New York City. Favored particularly by smaller stores and boutiques, merchants throughout the city have installed them as screening devices to reduce the incidence of robbery: if the face at the door looks desirable, the buzzer is pressed and the door is unlocked. If the face is that of an undesirable, the door stays locked. Predictably, the issue of undesirability has revealed itself to be a racial determination. While controversial enough at first, even civil-rights organizations backed down eventually in the face of arguments that the buzzer system is a “necessary evil,” that it is a...

  61. “The Nobel Lecture in Literature” and “The Acceptance Speech” (1993)
    (pp. 417-423)
    Toni Morrison

    Members of the Swedish Academy, Ladies and Gentlemen:

    Narrative has never been merely entertainment for me. It is, I believe, one of the principal ways in which we absorb knowledge. I hope you will understand, then, why I begin these remarks with the opening phrase of what must be the oldest sentence in the world, and the earliest one we remember from childhood: “Once upon a time ...”

    “Once upon a time there was an old woman. Blind but wise.” Or was it an old man? A guru, perhaps. Or agriotsoothing restless children. I have heard this story,...

  62. “Gender Quiz” (1995)
    (pp. 425-434)
    Minnie Bruce Pratt

    In 1975, when I first fell in love with another woman, and knew that was what I was doing, I was married to a man, had been for almost ten years, and I had two small sons. Everyone was shocked at the turn I was taking in my life, including me. Everyone—from the male lawyer who handled the divorce to my handful of lesbian friends—wanted to know: Had I ever had these feelings before? When had I realized I was “different”? When had I started to “change”? And the state of North Carolina, where I was living, certainly wanted to...

  63. From Two or Three Things I Know for Sure (1995)
    (pp. 436-453)
    Dorothy Allison

    “Let me tell you a story,” I used to whisper to my sisters, hiding with them behind the red-dirt bean hills and row on row of strawberries. My sisters’ faces were thin and sharp, with high cheekbones and restless eyes, like my mama’s face, my aunt Dot’s, my own. Peasants, that’s what we are and always have been. Call us the lower orders, the great unwashed, the working class, the poor, proletariat, trash, lowlife and scum. I can make a story out of it, out of us. Make it pretty or sad, laughable or haunting. Dress it up with legend...

  64. “It’s a Big Fat Revolution” (1995)
    (pp. 455-461)
    Nomy Lamm

    I am going to write an essay describing my experiences with fat oppression and the ways in which feminism and punk have affected my work. It will be clear, concise and well thought-out, and will be laid out in the basic thesis paper, college essay format. I will deal with these issues in a mature and intellectual manner. I will cash in on as many fifty-cent words as possible.

    I lied. (You probably already picked up on that, huh?) I can’t do that. This is my life, and my words are the most effective tool I have for challenging White-boyworld...

  65. “Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit” (1996)
    (pp. 463-470)
    Leslie Marmon Silko

    From the time I was a small child, I was aware that I was different. I looked different from my playmates. My two sisters looked different too. We didn’t look quite like the other Laguna Pueblo children, but we didn’t look quite white either. In the 1880s, my great-grandfather had followed his older brother west from Ohio to the New Mexico Territory to survey the land for the U.S. government. The two Marmon brothers came to the Laguna Pueblo reservation because they had an Ohio cousin who already lived there. The Ohio cousin was involved in sending Indian children thousands...

  66. From United States v. Virginia et al. (1996)
    (pp. 472-477)
    Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    JUSTICE GINSBURG delivered the opinion of the Court.

    I. Virginia’s public institutions of higher learning include an incomparable military college, Virginia Military Institute (VMI). The United States maintains that the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee precludes Virginia from reserving exclusively to men the unique educational opportunities VMI affords. We agree.

    Founded in 1839, VMI is today the sole single-sex school among Virginia’s 15 public institutions of higher learning. VMI’s distinctive mission is to produce “citizen-soldiers,” men prepared for leadership in civilian life and in military service. VMI pursues this mission through pervasive training of a kind not available anywhere else in...

  67. “Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart” (1996)
    (pp. 479-488)
    Ruth Behar

    But, you may say, if I don’t want to be in Texas, why am I here before a lectern in a hotel where the chandelier dangles by a thread? I don’t know if it’s the immigrant in me or the neurotic in me, but I am like that. Although I am here, I imagine there is somewhere else I ought to be instead. And so I don’t stop tormenting myself: Is this where the voyage through the long tunnel leads? Is this why my parents left Cuba?

    I should try, as the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh urges, to...

  68. “Supremacy Crimes” (1999)
    (pp. 491-494)
    Gloria Steinem

    You’ve seen the ocean of television coverage, you’ve read the headlines: “How to Spot a Troubled Kid,” “Twisted Teens,” “When Teens Fall Apart.”

    After the slaughter in Colorado that inspired those phrases, dozens of copycat threats were reported in the same generalized way: “Junior high students charged with conspiracy to kill students and teachers” (in Texas); “Five honor students overheard planning a June graduation bombing” (in New York); “More than 100 minor threats reported statewide” (in Pennsylvania). In response, the White House held an emergency strategy session titled “Children, Violence, and Responsibility.” Nonetheless, another attack was soon reported: “Youth With...

    (pp. 495-510)
    (pp. 511-516)