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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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89 Responses

  1. David Christiansen
    David Christiansen May 31, 2005 at 7:36 pm |

    They should provide an Amazon affiliate link or something. I was inspired to do some reading there.

  2. Elizajoey
    Elizajoey May 31, 2005 at 7:42 pm |

    I am guessing that says a lot about me when a lot of the books mentioned are either some of my favourites or just eye opening to be able to see a different perspective on things.

    Gosh I have been so harmed. And yet am so very proud.

  3. Down with Absolutes!  » Blog Archive   » My summer reading list just got REAL long

    [...] ration tonight, seeing as how I’m taking all my post ideas from other sites. Again, Feministe brings to my attention somet [...]

  4. Quisp
    Quisp May 31, 2005 at 8:22 pm |

    A book full of harm. How would that work? You read it and it harms you, I guess. With its pernicious ideas or something. They take hold and you are forever changed. These books will give you ideas. Oh no.

    I swear we need to stop telling these people about our new ideas, inventions, innovations, cures, technologies and all the other fun and essential shit none of us could live without, and all of which is the fruit of evil thinking, more-evil science and other otherwise brilliant rational (i.e. liberal, creative) people.

    Can we just agree to keep it to ourselves? “Sorry, jeebofasacists, last time we clued you in, you couldn’t handle it.”

  5. Gayle
    Gayle May 31, 2005 at 8:38 pm |

    Wow. Did you see the books on this list? These are primers, which should be included in any decent liberal arts program. (Including Mein Kemf, which gives insight into Hitler’s mind and those who think like him.)

    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. But this is so disgusting, I am, anyway. Wow.

  6. folkbum
    folkbum May 31, 2005 at 8:58 pm |

    The fools can’t even get titles right: Darwin’s book is On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

    The Origin of Species is the accepted short form, not Origin of the Species . . .

    The real contest would be, how many have you read?

  7. michelle
    michelle May 31, 2005 at 9:11 pm |

    A book full of harm. How would that work? You read it and it harms you, I guess. With its pernicious ideas or something. They take hold and you are forever changed. These books will give you ideas. Oh no.

    Heh.

    They do have a point about books and “ideas” being harmful. Freudian theories, to pick one of their own examples, did plenty of harm. We’re still recovering from some of his doozies about women’s sexuality.

    For entries like The Feminine Mystique, they spend more space attacking the author’s character and background than criticizing the book’s actual content. Lame.

  8. Kyra
    Kyra May 31, 2005 at 10:25 pm |

    The Feminine Mystique belongs on a list titled “Most Helpful Books of the Nineteenth & Twentieth Centuries.

    I will rant about this at a later date. Right now, I’ve got a box of strawberries and some Mountain Dew and some chocolate, and I’m going to enjoy them, without Phyllis Schlafly and her “we’ll prove we’re Independent by trying to force all women into restrictive gender roles” crusade.

  9. Pandagon
    Pandagon May 31, 2005 at 10:37 pm |

    #11 was Pandagon

    Uber-conservative online magazine Human Events Online has the Top 10 Most Harmful Books ever, and frankly, there are some surprises. The first, and this one is gonna hurt in Kansas, is that The Origin of the Species only got honorable…

  10. janet
    janet May 31, 2005 at 10:40 pm |

    Heh. That misstatement of the title of “On the Origin of Species” is almost as common as the addition of an apostrophe in “Finnegans Wake.” Of course, “origin of the species” implies that the book is about human evolution (which it isn’t, at least not specifically). I think it’s probably a deliberate mistake. Most people are unlikely to catch the error unless they’ve actually read the book.

  11. Marian Shah
    Marian Shah May 31, 2005 at 10:55 pm |

    I don’t agree with banning or censoring books.

    But please, the Feminine Mystique did a lot more than just let women out of the kitchen. It degraded the traditional family, and made stay at home motherhood look like idiocy. Ssecond Sex was similar.

    I wouldn’t blame a single book for the downfall of society, but I’d say that the mentality put forth by those books has done an awful lot not so good to the stability of families.

  12. Linnaeus
    Linnaeus May 31, 2005 at 11:01 pm |

    If anyone here remembers the PC wars of the 1990s, one of the big conservative complaints was that the Western canon was being eviscerated by trendy multicultural works that were turning students’ minds into mush. They were particularly upset when leftist scholars would find fault with certain works and suggest the use of alternatives. Now we see that the right is doing a fine job itself of picking and choosing what it deems healthy and harmful…and most of these books they’ve chosen are among the most important in the Western intellectual tradition.

    This is a fine illustration that these people see education narrowly as the propogation of their own values, rather than creating independent thinkers. After all, no one will critique capitalism if we don’t show them how it can be done.

    What’s especially laughable about their little explanatory blurbs after each book is their attempt to draw ludicrous cause and effect relationships. “The Nazis loved Nietzsche” is damn well close to guilt by association as well as possibly confusing cause and effect. These scholars ought to know better.

  13. Heliologue
    Heliologue May 31, 2005 at 11:06 pm |

    Scholars? It’s one of hundreds of biased articles on a Christoconservative rag. I’m just surprised that the twits didn’t vote for the Quran.

  14. Linnaeus
    Linnaeus May 31, 2005 at 11:15 pm |

    Maybe I was being too charitable.

  15. alley rat
    alley rat May 31, 2005 at 11:25 pm |

    I love that Keynes and FDR get blamed for Bush’s debt.

    Nice one.

  16. Amanda
    Amanda May 31, 2005 at 11:28 pm |

    Marian, have you even read The Feminine Mystique or The Second Sex? Please do before saying they are lambasting stay at home moms. And frankly, I’m sick and tired of books getting dismissed out of hand just because they might just insult one person’s individual choices. What? We can’t learn from de Beauvoir’s theory of the Other since she thinks housekeeping is a tedious chore? Notice that she frames it as a Sispheyan task expected of women deliberately undereducated to do it. She’s not talking the housework that I perform in between blog posts for damn sure. Existentialists don’t say that mundane tasks are beneath them–they just say that people should strive for more. Fuck, office work is just as mundane as bed-making. De Beauvoir’s over-riding theory is that women are forcibly kept from striving and in that, she was 100% correct.

  17. Socraticsilence
    Socraticsilence May 31, 2005 at 11:48 pm |

    I’d like to point out the obviously absurd mentions which really can’t in anyway be construed as harmful in the sense of killing people (Fredian, Carson, Kinsey, Nader) all of which even if you diasagree with their premises have tremendously influential on American life in the last 50 or so years, and if we include Beauvior, or the books obviously add for hot button reason but which could in no way be construed as being destructive to life (Darwin) or even those which are just against basic conservative philosophy (Keynes) but really I’m stuck on their list of Mills On Liberty as an honorable mention; I’m sorry but WTF, did they even read it?

  18. Quisp
    Quisp June 1, 2005 at 12:18 am |

    Freud’s books (ideas, sentences, etc.) aren’t harmful. They’re books. You read them and think about them. Not that Freud wasn’t a little funky in certain areas; but the fact that we know that shows that at least some people are capable of reading a book and deciding they just don’t buy it. My comment about the “books are harmful” notion really means that I keep picturing a book like the video in The Ring (is that the right movie? I forget) that you read and it just makes you (slutty, a commie, gay, leftist, Gloria Steinem, whatever). Like we’re all potential pod people. Of course, most of the pods waiting to happen appear to be on the Right these days.

  19. A Beautiful Soul
    A Beautiful Soul June 1, 2005 at 12:21 am |

    This Might Be Satire

    Blaming Marx and Engels for the Soviet Union is about as dumb as blaming the Beatles for the Manson family’s “helter-skelter” inspired murders.

  20. jab
    jab June 1, 2005 at 12:21 am |

    Does anyone believe that every member of the panel of “experts” who came up with this list actually read all of these books? The most harmful thing going on is the proferring of opinion based on ignorance! They want “standards” in education but of course they exempt themselves. One of the books listed (Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks) is not even fully available in English—so we are to presume these panelists all read it in the Italian original. It’s more likely they read about it in one of Rush Limbaugh’s books (“I Told You So”)—and of course nobody believesd Limbaugh actually read Gramsci. And then they complain about the decline in education! Mercy!

  21. Anna in Cairo
    Anna in Cairo June 1, 2005 at 12:27 am |

    Very coincidentally, I JUST FINISHED READING the Feminine Mystique which I had never read before. It applies very closely to the situation of women in Egypt right now, actually, though of course it’s quite dated when it comes to discussing women in the US. but I do recommend it for everyone – men and women. It is quite thought provoking. Some of her ideas re: psychology are, of course, dated as well but the overall thesis is pretty convincing. And it is not dissing stay at home moms, but trying to save them from depression of “is this all?”

  22. Protagoras
    Protagoras June 1, 2005 at 12:56 am |

    Well, this should have been obvious, though it also boggled my mind to see _On Liberty_ as an honorable mention. But having thought about it a bit, doesn’t a book which argues that no book can be dangerous belong on the list of dangerous books for anybody who thinks there can be such a thing? I don’t know if that’s the actual reason; probably not, as it sounds too logical. But it would account for the data.

  23. Sina
    Sina June 1, 2005 at 3:44 am |

    My question is, where did they find all of these conservative professors to review these books and vote for those that were “most harmful”? I thought the party line was that there were no conservative professors. Those of us who’ve been to college (perhaps outside the east coast? who can tell) know better.

    And can someone explain to me what the Clinton generation is, and how John Dewey (Dewey? Who can have a problem with Dewey?) is responsible for it?

    Lastly, you cannot touch my girl Simone. Sure, equality feminism had its problems, and she had some issues with lesbianism and motherhood, but she was one smart lady and a feminist mama. I’d argue that the introduction of women into the work force (*not* introduction, I’m sorry; working-class women have always had to work outside the home as well as keep it) during World War two and the increasing need in middle and working class families for a two-person income has done as much to upset the “stability” of the family as anything.
    Okay, end rant…

  24. Anna in Cairo
    Anna in Cairo June 1, 2005 at 4:12 am |

    Actually, I have the De Beauvoir book on my list to read next, but felt the need for escapist fiction after finishing Friedan. (My new boss is a feminist and I borrowed them so I could cross them off my list of books it is embarrassing not to have read.) Will let you all know what it is like! What would be nice is if this infamous list is used by teachers all over as a great suggestion for summer extra credit reading for, say, AP English or AP political science/government/whatever. (Although as someone else mentioned Das Kapital would probably be beyond most of us to get through, let alone high school seniors).

  25. Anna in Cairo
    Anna in Cairo June 1, 2005 at 4:18 am |

    And another thought – Betty Friedan spends a lot of time criticizing both Margaret Mead and Freud for their contribution to the “feminine mystique” fallacies. This is totally fresh in my mind as i literally just finished the book yesterday. So it is kind of ironic that all 3 of them are on the extended list.

  26. Mike M.
    Mike M. June 1, 2005 at 5:51 am |

    Like I said on my blog, I thought it was funny that these books are so dangerous that they conveniently provided the hot link to amazon.com so you can purchase them.

    Those randy capitalists!

  27. Sina
    Sina June 1, 2005 at 6:06 am |

    All of this said, I have to say that I appreciate the idea that books can be harmful; or, to slightly re/mis-translate, books can be subversive, or transgressive, or can create real change. This does not make Nietzsche responsible for Nazism, or Marx responsible for the Soviet Union, but I like the notion that ideas in books are not innocuous or innocent. But harmful? Hmmm; only if they twist you into a godless secular humanist feminist Nazi communist, of the “Clinton generation,” I suppose.

  28. marian shah
    marian shah June 1, 2005 at 8:07 am |

    And it is not dissing stay at home moms, but trying to save them from depression of “is this all?”

    But calling them desperate, parasites, childlike, etc., was really a bit much in my view. Add to that the fact that a lot of women didn’t want to be “saved” from their home lives (the word “save” is very patronizing in itself, as if the homemakers were little kids who didn’t know what was best for them until big sister said so). I just find the books insulting, and the fact that today, nearly all women are *expected*, not allowed, to have careers as well as families, is a radical feminist mentality that has become universal.

    Fifty years ago, someone like me might have been disparaged for holding a job (bad), but on the flip side, would also not be labeled unfocused or a waste of education for holding a temporary job or not being career-oriented. The feminist mentality has almost universally infiltrated our society and our schools, and while it’s made some happy, it’s made others very unhappy.

    But again, that does not mean ban the book. That would be beyond silly.

  29. Anna in Cairo
    Anna in Cairo June 1, 2005 at 8:34 am |

    Oh for heaven’s sake. I just finished reading the book. It did not insult stay at home moms. It was mostly concerned with the society’s socialization of women to expect that this was the be all and end all of being women in America. And she was talking about a real malaise that did strike many people, not about those who were happy being housewives. Her main issue by the end of the book was to give women better access to education and make it easy for grown women particularly who had been housewives and whose kids were grown/in school to attend college. How can anyone be against this? It is not attacking anyone.

  30. andrew
    andrew June 1, 2005 at 8:37 am |

    Let’s also remember something about The Second Sex… the only available translation in English was translated by a zoologist, who only became aware of existentialism *after* finishing the translation, when he set about writing the introduction. Not that it shouldn’t be read in English (lord knows my French isn’t good enough), but a new translation is sorely needed.

    That being said, I’m personally pleased by how many of these are on my bookshelf right now. Including the Keynes (which is actually not a harmful book, just a terribly written one – even Keynes said so).

    What’s the point of reading books that aren’t dangerous?

  31. altmama
    altmama June 1, 2005 at 11:02 am |

    Another way to think about this would be that it doesn’t matter if the “scholars” on this list actually read those books–not because they shouldn’t read the books (certainly they should), but because what these books have in common is that they provided a vocubulary that enabled new fields of public discourse–they gave a language to concerns that were obviously widespread, otherwise the books would not have been so influential.

    So, for instance, it’s not that Friedan’s ideas “infilitrated” society and made people reject housewifery, somehow–it’s that there were a lot of people dissatisfied with that life who were enabled to form a vocal constituency with the use of Friedan’s language. Lots of those people probably didn’t read her book, either, but still found it politically useful.

    My point here is that I think there are two levels of discussion going on in these comments–one about the ideas actually in the books, and one about the public vocabulary those books enabled. Because I’m a grad student in English and I think that books matter, it sort of kills me when books are represented unthoughtfully and we get sloppy potshots at people like Freud who totally don’t deserve it. But on the other hand, I think we should attend to the public discourse aspect as well because that’s what these scholars are worried about: not Freud, Foucault, and Friedan per se, but rather the way those thinkers enabled discontented citizens to find a public voice and use it to work for change.

    (now, NB: you can see me getting fussing about sloppy close reading just yesterday here, and you’ll see how quickly I change my own mind:

  32. Amanda
    Amanda June 1, 2005 at 11:02 am |

    Have you read the books, Marian? Housewives were considered parasitic by the men that kept them–these books were an important step to redefining housewifery as legit work.

  33. altmama
    altmama June 1, 2005 at 11:08 am |

    I guess I should also say that the language of radical thinkers can also be appropriated for conservative ends–and I guess I would put Freud in this category, as someone who is mostly very transgressive in his own work but who also provided a vocabularly that was used in some really bad ways, particularly in American psychoanalysis during the mid-20c.

  34. marian shah
    marian shah June 1, 2005 at 11:15 am |

    Housewives were considered parasitic by the men that kept them–these books were an important step to redefining housewifery as legit work.

    Men did NOT say these things. The authors themselves did. ?Examples:

    “A parasite sucking out the living strength of another organism…the [housewife’s] labor does not even tend toward the creation of anything durable…. [W]oman’s work within the home [is] not directly useful to society, produces nothing. [The housewife] is subordinate, secondary, parasitic. It is for their common welfare that the situation must be altered by prohibiting marriage as a ‘career’ for woman.” — Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, 1949.”

    “[Housewives] are mindless and thing-hungry…not people. [Housework] is peculiarly suited to the capacities of feeble-minded girls. [It] arrests their development at an infantile level, short of personal identity with an inevitably weak core of self…. [Housewives] are in as much danger as the millions who walked to their own death in the concentration camps. [The] conditions which destroyed the human identity of so many prisoners were not the torture and brutality, but conditions similar to those which destroy the identity of the American housewife.” — Betty Frieden, The Feminine Mystique, 1963.

    “[Housewives] are dependent creatures who are still children…parasites.” — Gloria Steinham, “What It Would Be Like If Women Win,” Time, August 31, 1970.

    Direct quotes from the literature, which are so well-known, yet you claim they are only quoting men. Sorry, but reality is reality, and they are quoting themselves. Can’t blame husbands here. Have *you* read the books?

  35. marian shah
    marian shah June 1, 2005 at 11:18 am |

    This is another gem:

    “[A]s long as the family and the myth of the family and the myth of maternity and the maternal instinct are not destroyed, women will still be oppressed…. No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one. It is a way of forcing women in a certain direction.” — Simone de Beauvoir, “Sex, Society, and the Female Dilemma,” Saturday Review, June 14, 1975.

  36. Sally
    Sally June 1, 2005 at 11:25 am |

    I can’t remember who wrote the article that looked at mainstream women’s magazines from the 1950s and found that pretty much everything Betty Freidan said about housewives was already being addressed in the magazines aimed at housewives themselves. Betty Freidan didn’t invent the problem: she just packaged the complaints in a way that was more suitable to start a movement.

    What I think is interesting is how parochial the list is. I mean, Gramsci? Has anyone outside of academia even heard of Gramsci? I can see how he’d seem really important if you were reading a lot of history books in the 1980s, as I imagine many of the list-makers were. But did he really influence the general culture?

  37. Sally
    Sally June 1, 2005 at 11:27 am |

    You still haven’t answered the question about whether you’ve read either The Second Sex or the Feminine Mystique, Marian. Have you read either all the way through, or are you just pulling quotes from websites?

  38. marian shah
    marian shah June 1, 2005 at 11:31 am |

    I’ve read them, and I know that the quotes aren’t just from men. Have you?

  39. Sally
    Sally June 1, 2005 at 11:47 am |

    Nope. But I know that quotes can be taken out of context. And I’ll bet that you got those specific quotes off of some sort of anti-feminist website, because I doubt you’re in the habit of reading the Saturday Review from 1975 or Time from 1970.

  40. marian shah
    marian shah June 1, 2005 at 11:52 am |

    You doubt it, eh? Right, because assuming things about people you haven’t met always works. *eyeroll* How the hell do you know what I’ve read, or the last thing about me?

    Even if the quotes are from an antifeminist site, they are directly from the books, and were said by these women, not by their husbands. You can’t take reality and mould it to fit your agenda, which is what some people in these discussions were doing. Things that are said, are said. And projecting those quotes on men is simply inaccurate.

  41. Sally
    Sally June 1, 2005 at 11:55 am |

    I don’t know anything about you, and I’m not claiming to. I know that those quotes look sketchy: lots of sentence fragments tied together with elipses. And I know that anti-feminist sites sometimes intentionally skew the meaning of feminist works using just that technique: creating franken-sentences out of random clauses joined by elipses. Could you give me page numbers and editions so that I can see what the original quotes actually said?

  42. Lauren
    Lauren June 1, 2005 at 12:05 pm |

    Marian, I think Amanda is right with her initial quote about housewives being treated as “parasites” by their own husbands. A shallow look into pop culture of the era says the same.

  43. piny
    piny June 1, 2005 at 12:05 pm |

    We went over this on Amptoons, with some other anti-feminist who also failed to check his sources, and who also took things far enough out of context as to virtually reverse their meaning.

    This, I think, is where she’s getting the quotes:

    http://www.ladiesagainstfeminism.org/artman/publish/printer_744.shtml

    I doubt very much that she’s read any of the articles or books–The Second Sex, for example–in their entirety.

  44. marian shah
    marian shah June 1, 2005 at 12:07 pm |

    Kind of hard to do, since I’m at work and don’t have the books in front of me. I don’t even own them. I just said I’d read them at one point. I did get the quotes from the web, but they are not “full” of ellipses and brackets. Actually, the last one only has one bracket around one capital letter. I don’t think you can claim that they’re being twisted too far out of context.

    The truth hurts…these women did not support traditional women. And besides, to try to claim that the feminist movement started with men finding their wives too dependent/parasitic and encouraging them to get out of the home, is known by common sense to be untrue.

  45. Lauren
    Lauren June 1, 2005 at 12:07 pm |

    Also, if I remember correctly, the language that you are quoting from Friedan in particular was set up in the context of an entire book. She wasn’t referring to housewives as parasitic, vapid and dumb, per se, but borrowing the language of the time’s culture to simultaneously criticize it. Taken out of context it appears to be something it isn’t.

  46. Schrödinger's Cat is Dead
    Schrödinger's Cat is Dead June 1, 2005 at 12:10 pm |

    Goose-stepping morons like yourself should try reading books instead of burning them

    Feministe clued us in to Human Events Online’s* Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries. It’s got some that you might expect, such as Mein Kampf, but hilariously enough, the “panel of 15 conservative scholars and publi…

  47. marian shah
    marian shah June 1, 2005 at 12:11 pm |

    Piny and Lauren, De Beauvoir came right out and said that society should be changed so as not to “authorize” women to stay home. She was asked, and she answered accordingly. They may or may not have been treated that way by men, but men did not say these quotes, and you can’t claim that they did.

    Either way, it’s pretty superficial to argue where I got the quotes. They were said, and they’re pretty blunt. The early feminists disparaged tradition and homemaking. You might not agree with the truth, but you’re not going to change what has been said and organized for.

  48. Lauren
    Lauren June 1, 2005 at 12:14 pm |

    to try to claim that the feminist movement started with men finding their wives too dependent/parasitic and encouraging them to get out of the home, is known by common sense to be untrue.

    Many men of the era found housewives a necessary burden. Most didn’t want their wives to leave the home for a job for various reasons, most socially notably because it would have been an affront to their ability to provide, and thus an affront to their sense of masculinity. We’re still battling old notions on that front.

  49. Lauren
    Lauren June 1, 2005 at 12:22 pm |

    it’s pretty superficial to argue where I got the quotes. They were said, and they’re pretty blunt.

    I beg to differ. Taken in the context of the entire books, their notions may remain offensive to you, but don’t imply what your quotes above do. Those quotes are selected for their ability to enrage anti-feminists and galvanize fence-sitters, but they are not the entire spirit of the feminist movement then or now. To argue as such, particularly as the anti-feminists you quote from do, is dishonest.

    So, will anti-feminist groups continue to oppose feminism on what one person said fifty years ago or what feminists are doing, saying, and writing now? Feminists today, except for perhaps a select few that I’m unaware of, don’t value home life and work one over the another.

    What about us?

  50. altmama
    altmama June 1, 2005 at 12:23 pm |

    I haven’t read either Friedan or Beauvoir–I’ve historically been a little frustrated with a lot of second wave feminism–but I have to say I’m actually really taken with the quotation’s Marian provided, particularly the last one from Beauvoir. As all my friends begin to turn thirty, I see them all (men and women) go through little early-life-crises, trying to figure out how to meaningfully organize their lives, their time. And again and again I see women sort of “opting out” of that hard work by deciding to have a baby.

    Now! Lest I be roundly attacked here, let me clarify that the main person I’m thinking about here is ME–I’m trying to get pregnant, and I might well find myself staying home for a while too. The last thing I would ever want to imply is that baby-having or mothering is not meaningful. I know that it is.

    But I also know that many people, women especially, use mothering to plug a lot of holes in their own personal development, and it’s made easier to do that because there’s still this cultural idea that mothering makes you “deep” or something, and the fact is that you can be a great mom and still need to figure out how to make yourself happy outside of that…your kids will grow up someday.

    So I’m tempted to say–maybe Beauvoir is right, even at her most outrageous. Maybe we should iradicate the “myth of the maternal instinct” not to destabilize the family, but to put pressure on women not to use maternity as a stop-gap for self-development (because when they do, they ultimately become less stable moms as well as economically and emotionally underprivledged compared to men who did the hard work of figuring themselves out without the mommy-myth exit option).

  51. Mark in Mexico
    Mark in Mexico June 1, 2005 at 12:30 pm |

    Most Harmful Books of the last 200 years

    DISCLAIMER: I have read only Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Darwin’s Origin of the Species and Nader’s Unsafe At Any Speed. Having fessed up, I am not altogether unfamiliar with many of the others. I would hazard a guess that most if not all of the …

  52. piny
    piny June 1, 2005 at 12:41 pm |

    I just said I’d read them at one point.

    And I happen to think you’re lying. That’s irrelevant, however, to the discussion of whether these quotes are an accurate representation of the books or viewpoints themselves. They aren’t.

    The truth hurts…these women did not support traditional women. And besides, to try to claim that the feminist movement started with men finding their wives too dependent/parasitic and encouraging them to get out of the home, is known by common sense to be untrue.

    This is not what was argued here at all. The distinction that Lauren, I, et al. are making is between believing that housewives and housework is inherently parasitic and believing that the patriarchy had a vested interest in seeing them that way and keeping them that way. Tradition saw women as children, dependent on the men in their lives; men bought into this tradition as much as anyone else. Housewives were parasites, in a sense, because they had no choice but to live on and live for their husbands. It was feminism that insisted that women be independent adults, feminism that pointed out how dangerous it was to have no legal power or social recognition. Feminists never blamed women for doing housework or saw housework as valueless; they were complaining about the lack of value society placed on it. One of the feminists you quote out of context, Gloria Steinem, first gained public notice for her attempt to attach economic value to housework.

    As for Simone de Beauvoir: she was raised in a home with a domineering, distant father and a hopeless, depressed, utterly controlled mother. She was a brilliant, inquisitive girl who grew up in a time when women were supposed to be nothing but babymaking machines and loving sops to their husbands’ egos. (You’d know all of this if you actually were acquainted with her work.) She had firsthand experience of the system that refused women choices. You said earlier that you’re pissed that feminists have so changed society that women “have” to have careers and cannot be homemakers. Well, she was denied one. This is not to say that she was ungrateful to her mother, or that she saw no value in parenting or cleaning house. She was an extremist reacting to an extremely oppressive era.

  53. Quisp
    Quisp June 1, 2005 at 12:48 pm |

    For the purpose of this conversation, I’m willing to stipulate that those cobbled quotes summarize perfectly the gestalt of the original works (although clearly if they did, they would be no need to write — or read — the entire book, now would there? As Albee said on another topic — “if a play can be summarized in a sentence, that should be its length.”).

    I find those quotes — intended as evidence of something anti-feminist or “harmful to women” — to be compelling, bold, interesting, thought-provoking, lacking in punches-pulled, explosive, evocative…so what if i diagree with some of what is said (and I’m not sure I do). But even if I disagree, I can take it, and so can you, and so can any thinking, reasoning person. It also strikes me that the only type of person who could hypothetically be “harmed” by those words (were they false) would be exactly the kind of person those authors are describing, e.g. a mindless, infantile parasite. If the sentences are true, there is no harm. If false, there is no one to harm.

    I remember John Lennon (feminist) saying in an interview once that, [paraphrase from memory], when you’re drowning you don’t say, “I would really be ever so grateful if you would be kind enough to toss me some manner of flotation device.” You just scream, “HELP!”

    Do you see why someone might write “housewives are parasites” rather than “in today’s ever more conflicted society, housewives find themselve stuck between that preverbial rock and a hard place blah fucking blah?”

    The authors of those works believed they were drowning. Why mince words?

    If I read “housewives are parasites,” I think, okay, prove it, and I read on. I would have the same reaction to “housewives are Wankel rotary engines.” And I would value a well-phrased argument that “housewives are parasites” as much as a well-phrased argument that “housewives are the sine-qua-non of existence.”

  54. Sina
    Sina June 1, 2005 at 2:01 pm |

    Exactly right, Quisp.
    In the case of De Beauvoir, I believe that she would say that we shouldn’t “authorize” women to be stay-at-home-mothers, and I would not characterize her as a supporter of traditional women. But the point is, that at the time that The Second Sex was published, stay-at-home motherhood or traditional feminine roles were not a *choice*. She had to struggle against hard odds to claim her position as a philospher, and had to struggle again against charges (leveled at the time and long afterwards) that her philosophy was basically cribbed from Sartre’s. I think that we are now historically in a position to better evaluate her statements, and to affirm motherhood and staying at home as a choice, rather than as what women are simply *for*. And we have the feminist movement, inculding the very (harmful?) books on this list, to thank for it.

  55. She-eep
    She-eep June 1, 2005 at 2:32 pm |

    Here in the UK it was Margaret Thatcher’s conservative capitalist Thatcherism which forced middle class mothers to join their working class sisters in the workplace. Feminism is helping us cope with the consequences of mothers being required by free market capitalism to work two full time jobs simultaneously (one of them unpaid and undervalued).

  56. marian shah
    marian shah June 1, 2005 at 3:18 pm |

    And I happen to think you’re lying. That’s irrelevant, however, to the discussion of whether these quotes are an accurate representation of the books or viewpoints themselves. They aren’t.

    Oh yeah? Well you know what? That’s what you get for assuming again. I happen to be a master’s in social work who has read probably more liberal, multicultural, and feminist literature than many. I unfortunately had to read it for class. I also read it for fun. I’m not some teenager or college kid surfing the web; I am a published writer who does have to read sources to cite them.

    Have you been to my courses, which quoted those exact things from Friedan etc. in family therapy textbooks to “prove” that marriage and homemaking are harmful to women and should be avoided? Well,that’s what we learned. Have you read the textbook by Carter & McGoldrick that uses Gloria Steinem’s words to prove that men are violent and dangerous, or Jessie Bernard’s work to prove that marriage is a “genuine health hazard?” (exact quote)?

    A lot of feminists are shocked at some of the things that their fellow activists actually have said, that social work and other curricula are teaching. But I’m sorry, they have been said. It’s not just conservatives who are interpreting these works of literature in that way.

    Whether we like it or not, these books did help put out a societal mentality that has, for the large part, changed a lot about family life. Social workers, society’s helpers, have bought it hook line and sinker. And simply trying to tack a “Oh, she’s not saying that, she’s just saying what men think….” in front of all these direct quotes is a desperate attempt to disown aspects of feminism that today’s feminists aren’t proud of. Your activists said these things in generations past, and you need to own them. Just because TODAY’ feminists may not think that way, doesn’t mean that nobody ever did.

  57. piny
    piny June 1, 2005 at 3:42 pm |

    That, too. Allowing women to work in jobs that aren’t thankless, underpaid, menial nightmares (and no, I’m not referring to housework) doesn’t contribute to families having less money and less free time. And valuing workers doesn’t harm women in a system where women are considered to be workers.

    What Lauren pointed out is true: women have always worked, and will always work, in and out of the home. The question is whether that work will be compensated and recognized, and whether the women who perform those tasks will be respected as valuable members of society. The sexism that says that homemaking is the “best” choice for women is inseparable from the misogyny that negates the significance of any work women do and makes it horrible. You can’t exalt the Angel in the House without vilifying any women who steps outside.

  58. marian shah
    marian shah June 1, 2005 at 3:49 pm |

    She was a brilliant, inquisitive girl who grew up in a time when women were supposed to be nothing but babymaking machines and loving sops to their husbands’ egos. (You’d know all of this if you actually were acquainted with her work.) She had firsthand experience of the system that refused women choices. You said earlier that you’re pissed that feminists have so changed society that women “have” to have careers and cannot be homemakers. Well, she was denied one.

    I actually was aware of this. I am also aware that Betty Friedan wasn’t happy as a housewife. but I happen to believe that instead of making a prescription for everyone else, unhappy people should have journaled about their own miserable lives instead of generalizing and assuming that their misery was universally shared. I don’t write books saying that my marriage is great and that all women who don’t try it are crazy. I wasn’t happy as a pre-med student, but I don’t write books telling all medical students they are nuts and need to change careers.

    I know that the extremists were just responding to different times, but the fact that the pendulum seems to have swung the other way doesn’t help much. Feminists who are so angry about being housewives that they make disparaging remarks about all housewives, aren’t much better than Christians who are so angry about changes in families that they suggest banning birth control and requiring women to be home. The change that comes out of black and white thinking is scary no matter which side you’re on.

    For the record, Sina made a good point.

  59. marian shah
    marian shah June 1, 2005 at 3:53 pm |

    What Lauren pointed out is true: women have always worked, and will always work, in and out of the home. The question is whether that work will be compensated and recognized, and whether the women who perform those tasks will be respected as valuable members of society.

    If what you’re suggesting is that housewives are as valuable of workers as career women, then we agree. All I was saying was that the radicals of the 60′s and 70′s didn’t agree with us as much as we might want to think they did.

  60. piny
    piny June 1, 2005 at 4:13 pm |

    Gosh, sorry, I guess I jumped to conclusions when I found every single one of your quotes in a single article on an anti-feminist website. I stand corrected. I’m glad you don’t make a practice of that, or you wouldn’t have gotten your master’s.

    Come on. If I were trying to figure out what Phyllis Schlafly’s position on any given issue was, I wouldn’t take my quotes from a feminist blog post. That’s pretty much what you did, unless you just happened to find several different sources that just happened to use the exact same elliptical punctuation.

    If you don’t want people to dismiss you as a lazy thinker, don’t behave like one.

    In a misogynistic society, being a woman is dangerous, and anything associated with women is devalued. Childcare, housework and motherhood are thankless and horrible. Any other jobs associated with women–secretarial work, nursing, teaching–are thankless and horrible. This is what feminists were talking about. They called women parasites and children because that’s what society had made them. They called childbearing, childrearing, and housework ugly and unpleasant because that’s what they frequently become when they’re both compulsory and uncompensated.

    Feminism does not think that there’s no point in taking care of children. Feminism does not think that dishes do not need to be washed. Feminism does think that it is wrong and pointless for women to obey the dicta of a misogynist system. They think that it is dangerous to become a homemaker if homemaking is the least valued job. They think that it is dangerous to spend your life doing hard work if that hard work will not be compensated. They think that it is dangerous to marry if marriage means that your rights are diminished. And they think that it is dangerous for women to act as though there is nothing poisonous or objectionable about a system which burdens women with the most difficult jobs while simultaneously teaching them that they can accomplish nothing.

  61. piny
    piny June 1, 2005 at 4:21 pm |

    I don’t write books saying that my marriage is great and that all women who don’t try it are crazy. I wasn’t happy as a pre-med student, but I don’t write books telling all medical students they are nuts and need to change careers.

    But you’re talking here about two choices you made. De Beauvoir and Friedan operated in a system where being a housewife was almost compulsory; their decisions to not be housewives were not neutral. Whether something is amenable or would otherwise be chosen is immaterial when choices, needs, and desires are not respected. They weren’t really talking about personal unhappiness. They were pointing out that no one cared whether they were happy or not, that no one was even willing to acknowledge the possibility of unhappiness. They were also pointing out that even if homemaking is just fine with some women, the place homemakers occupied in society shouldn’t be acceptable to anyone.

  62. Sally
    Sally June 1, 2005 at 4:24 pm |

    Given that you have a master’s degree and are a published writer and whatnot, I just don’t think it’s too much to ask you to provide proper citations for the quotes you give. I’m sure that somewhere along the way, you were taught how to cite. I don’t trust your quotes, and I want to look them up. This sort of dispute is exactly why one is required to provide complete citations.

    Otherwise, don’t be smug about your supposed superiority to teenagers and college students. I’ve taught composition courses to undergrads, and they don’t seem to have trouble grasping this concept.

    I’m serious. Email “ladies against feminism” if you have to and get cites from them, but I want to see where you’re getting these quotes. I need page numbers and an edition.

  63. Quisp
    Quisp June 1, 2005 at 4:32 pm |

    Marian Shah:

    Where do you teach? I would like to sit in on your courses and also to read your published work (not the on-line stuff at LadiesAgainstFeminism.com, Free Republic etc.; the peer-reviewed stuff is what I’m most interested in). I am naturally, given your expertise, interested in your point of view.

  64. Tex
    Tex June 1, 2005 at 5:27 pm |

    I think that Marian is being exceedingly brave in sticking to her guns here, and I think that she’s right that second-wave feminism was overly narrow. From her point of view, this is an excess of radicalism, whereas for my tastes, I don’t think they went far enough. Either way, I think that the primary question is whether Betty Friedan and Simone de Beauvoir did a good enough job of conceptualizing women who were different from them. As has already come up, both women are guilty of some truly ugly portraits of lesbians. Products of their time, perhaps, but a narrow and prejudicial worldview undeniably. In the circles I run in, this is a popular critique of both of those authors, though not enough to warrant calling them dangerous.

    Still, I agree that both women disparage domestic labor. I really loved Pliny’s point that: “One of the feminists you quote out of context, Gloria Steinem, first gained public notice for her attempt to attach economic value to housework.” From my reading of deBeauvoir, she really, really drops the ball here. To give a citation (from the 1989 Vintage edition translated by H.M. Parshley if that’ll make Sally happy), deBeauvoir thinks that “The domestic labors that fell to [woman's] lot becuase they were reconcilable with the cases of maternity imprisoned her in repetition and immanence; they were repeated almost without change from century to century; they produced nothing new” (page 63). They way that I read this passage is that there is an essential qualituy to domestic tasks, namely that they are immanent as opposed to transcendent, that makes them unworthy pursuits as labor. I have no quarrel with anyone who says that sweeping floors and changing diapers is a lousy job, but I think that those being lousy jobs have less to do with some subtle connection to maternity than the fact that they have been historically disparaged, undervalued tasks, and defining them as “immanent” and therefore unworthy doesn’t help much.

    Where I think Marian is being unreasonable is where she places the burden of this narrow perspective on domestic labor. Again, I am more inclined to see it as valuable labor, and I think that Marian agrees that domestic work is fine as a career and that folk who don’t have many other options may indeed have good reason to rebel. To folk like Marian, those who are left out of Friedan’s picture are the housewives who willingly and happily accept their slice of the labor pie, but to me, it is a thousand times more important to realize that there are women who still have very few labor options and get stuck doing domestic labor. That is, I worry about the poor women and who take care of the children and cleanup the homes to free up the time and labor power of better socially positioned women. Disparaging the very tasks, underpaid and often thankless, as immanent is tremendously insulting and has been a staple of bougie feminism for decades.

    Bear in mind too (though this time I don’t think I have the book on hand so I ask that you indulge me paraphrasing) that Betty Friedan’s whole point (again as I read it) is that a generation of straight white women went through college and then were pushed into undervaluing their skillset in domestic jobs for which they were overqualified. If you dislike Betty Friedan, perhaps the weakest possible critique that anyone could make of her methodologies would be that she was unfair to a subset of that already pretty narrow subset of the population. So, my question for Marian, and pretty much everyone else, is:

    What is more important,
    the elimination of second-wave feminism’s critique of domestic labor as a drag on the happiness on a group of women who, by definition, are already pretty damn happy
    or the elimination of a critique of domestic labor that (I believe) has all too often prevented feminism from even trying to improve the work lives of the downtrodden?

  65. Sally
    Sally June 1, 2005 at 5:45 pm |

    I don’t think those two things are separate issues, actually. Our society has had a particular view of housework: it is not work; it involves no skill; the people who do it should not be compensated; they are merely performing their womanly duties, rather than doing something productive. Because it’s undervalued when women do it without compensation, it’s also undervalued when women do it for compensation. Women who do housework for wages will not be adequately compensated until we recognize housework as work. And as long as we see it as something that inheres in the very nature of women, it will not be recognized as work.

    I haven’t read the Feminine Mystique, but I do know that Betty Freidan is a more complex character than people give her credit for being. She cut her teeth in the most radical wing of the labor movement and became a “housewife” only after she was forced out in McCarthyite purges or organized labor. She presented herself as a “bored housewife” because it wasn’t politically tenable to depict one’s self as a displaced labor radical.

  66. Sally
    Sally June 1, 2005 at 5:56 pm |

    Aargh. That should be “McCarthyite purges of organized labor.”

    I’m sorry if I offended you by asking for cites. But I want them. I’m sick to death of anti-feminists hacking up quotes and asking us to take them as gospel. Since a key tactic of anti-feminists is to brandish quotes that they say discredit feminism, I just don’t think it’s that much to ask to expect them to cite their quotes.

  67. Tex
    Tex June 1, 2005 at 7:31 pm |

    Oh I’m not offended in the least. Frankly, if you hadn’t asked for the citations, I was going to, because I’m as fed up with that tendency to misquote as anyone else, andasking for citations is a pretty darned good way to make sure that what you say is verifiable. I really do regret not having direct examples from Friedan.

    I also really liked your point about compensated vs. uncompensated labor, but I still think that de Beauvoir is part of the problem because she still believes that the labor itself is bad not because it is attached to woman’s lot, but because it is immanent, ie, as you put it so well, ” it is not work; it involves no skill;” and it does nothing productive. That is, I think, the very definition of immanence, and that’s why her critique isn’t going to lead to a better valuation of the labor any time soon.

    Maybe this is a big brown bias on my part, but I’d also go so far as to say that I don’t believe that there is anything about a woman holding a transcendent job that means she’s going to justly compensate la criada. That women who would call themselves feminist would climb to the top on the backs of other women bothers me more than their dismissal of those whose class privilege (as Sina and She-eep showed so well) led them to other choices. I think the two are separate issues because of that privilege that allows some women to simply “opt out,” a privelege that the cleaning lady just ain’t got.

  68. Starofvenus
    Starofvenus June 1, 2005 at 7:39 pm |

    What a great list this is. (Where can we find it?) The fact that there was only one woman on the list surely proves that “they” could only find one woman deluded enough to put her name to it – a result for thinking women everywhere.

    Also, as an additional point from a NON NAZI don’t knock Mein Kamf. To understand something you should be able to read about it. Words can’t hold blame in themselves – only the person who put them forth. To diminish one book that is disagreed with is to diminish all books (many of which might be essential to a free, liberal, way of life). I’ve read Mein Kamf (Propoganda in Nazi Germany study) and the writing is not so good that ordinary, reasonable people will suddenly decide that Hitler was right. The book holds weight in that it can help it never happen again.

  69. Marian Shah
    Marian Shah June 1, 2005 at 9:21 pm |

    Given that you have a master’s degree and are a published writer and whatnot, I just don’t think it’s too much to ask you to provide proper citations for the quotes you give. I’m sure that somewhere along the way, you were taught how to cite. I don’t trust your quotes, and I want to look them up. This sort of dispute is exactly why one is required to provide complete citations.

    Otherwise, don’t be smug about your supposed superiority to teenagers and college students. I’ve taught composition courses to undergrads, and they don’t seem to have trouble grasping this concept.

    I’m serious. Email “ladies against feminism” if you have to and get cites from them, but I want to see where you’re getting these quotes. I need page numbers and an edition.

    Oh, okay. So you do read minds. YOU ARE THE ONE ASSUMING that I took those quotes from the antifeminist site, just because in a past discussion, someone did, even though that someone isn’t me.

    Okay, so I got them off the web. But like I said, I DON’T OWN THE BOOKS, so I can’t produce page numbers and line numbers and whatever else. I have, however, read them, so I know the quotes I have found in numerous places are not “out of context.” Isn’t that the whole point of this thread anyway?

    Forget it, you’re clearly more interested in personally attacking my intelligence and denying reality. And I’m not really interested in doing the research for you. Do your own homework, Sally.

    And yes, I do know how to cite, thank you. I’ve been happily published in several places, and I don’t feel that I need to prove myself to you.

  70. Marian Shah
    Marian Shah June 1, 2005 at 9:23 pm |

    Where do you teach? I would like to sit in on your courses and also to read your published work (not the on-line stuff at LadiesAgainstFeminism.com, Free Republic etc.; the peer-reviewed stuff is what I’m most interested in). I am naturally, given your expertise, interested in your point of view.

    I never said I was a teacher. I got my master’s in social work, but never ended up a social worker, for a variety of reasons. You can read some of my stuff on my blog, as well as OpinionEditorials.com (link on my sidebar).

  71. Lauren
    Lauren June 1, 2005 at 9:34 pm |

    Marian, they only brought up your education because you brandished it. Giving citations so we can defend our stance is only fair, especially if you hold quotes out of context as truth.

    Amazon has this nifty feature so you can reproduce the quotes by a search engine on the book’s page. If you don’t want to find the quotes yourself in a hard copy (though this is the method I suggest in order to get full context for your argument and ours), you should be able to find them there.

  72. Quisp
    Quisp June 1, 2005 at 10:11 pm |

    if you didn’t feel the need to prove yourself to whomever, what exactly is the point of whipping out your unspecified credentials kryptonite.

  73. Marian Shah
    Marian Shah June 1, 2005 at 10:43 pm |

    I didn’t “whip out unspecified credentials.” In fact, an educational degree and the fact that you have been published (as opposed to being an anonymous internet troll with no credibility, for instance) is actually quite specific. However, when the thread deteriorated to ad-hominem attacks, catty fighting, and silly requests to back up sources to an extent that even professors don’t usually require (e.g., exact page numbers, edition numbers, word for word quoting, and being forbidden to reference inside citations), I decided that it seemed silly to go to World War III on someone else’s blog. I know that I am credible, whether someone I’ve never met on the internet thinks so or not. Right–not necessarily always so–but credible, yes. and I don’t feel like taking it to the level of an online message board spat. *shrug*

  74. Quisp
    Quisp June 1, 2005 at 11:38 pm |

    I happen to be a master’s in social work who has read probably more liberal, multicultural, and feminist literature than many.[...] I’m not some teenager or college kid surfing the web; I am a published writer who does have to read sources to cite them. Have you been to my courses [...] YOU ARE THE ONE ASSUMING that I took those quotes from the antifeminist site, just because in a past discussion, someone did, even though that someone isn’t me [...] Okay, so I got them off the web. But like I said, I DON’T OWN THE BOOKS, so I can’t produce page numbers and line numbers and whatever else. I have, however, read them, so I know the quotes I have found in numerous places are not “out of context.” [...] And yes, I do know how to cite, thank you [...] I’m not really interested in doing the research for you. [...] Forget it, you’re clearly more interested in personally attacking my intelligence and denying reality. [...] I got my master’s in social work [...] I didn’t “whip out unspecified credentials.” [...] I’ve been happily published in several places [...] [A]n educational degree and the fact that you have been published (as opposed to being an anonymous internet troll with no credibility, for instance) is actually quite specific. However, when the thread deteriorated to [...] silly requests to back up sources [...] [d]o your own homework, Sally [...] I don’t feel that I need to prove myself to you. [...] I know that I am credible, whether someone I’ve never met on the internet thinks so or not. [...] Either way, it’s pretty superficial to argue where I got the quotes. They were said.

  75. Amanda
    Amanda June 2, 2005 at 12:02 am |

    Shows what I get for farting in a room and leaving.

    Look, reading books out of context of the time they were written is a recipe for disaster. Damn, I don’t read Austen to find my lesbian feminist heroes, you know?

    Oh yeah, Marian. I have read Feminine Mystique once and The Second Sex about 10 times. But let’s play take a quote.

    The truth hurts…these women did not support traditional women.

    Wrong. They did far more than any man ever did–Friedan preface FM with an essay explaining to doubters that even housewives deserve education for their own benefit, a theme she carried over. De Beauvoir decried the way that women’s labor was spat upon and especially how our sexuality was treated as a tool while men’s was treated like a treat. She specifically called for educating women about sex so that they could enjoy their wedding nights instead of suffer the rape that was part of the “traditional” housewife’s first night on the job.

    Piny and Lauren, De Beauvoir came right out and said that society should be changed so as not to “authorize” women to stay home. She was asked, and she answered accordingly. They may or may not have been treated that way by men, but men did not say these quotes, and you can’t claim that they did.

    Of course she did–she was a hardass woman from the middle class who was used to hearing rhetoric about how housewifery was a luxury, and it was one that made women stupid and feeble-minded. Thanks to her, things have changed.

    I could go on, but I do find it interesting that in all your pro-housewife flogging, you find it relevant to bring up your “masculine” education. If the domestic life is enough, then why are you bringing it up? De Beauvoir’s main point was that tending children and house was not fulfilling–women, like men, need creative outlets, higher aspirations. And they were systematically denied these things in her time. Nowadays, housewives at least get to have an education, praise for artistic skills and a say-so in their children’s education beyond merely tending to their physical needs. And thank de Beauvoir for that.

    Feminine Mystique is a tad boring, but The Second Sex is a must-read. Read it, Marian, and not the out of context scare quotes. You want to be pissed off? Read about how rape was considered routine in France at the time she lives, and frankly how that was jokingly treated as a housewife’s lot in life. She worked against the rape of housewives by their husbands. That’s more than non-feminists ever did for women.

  76. Anna in Cairo
    Anna in Cairo June 2, 2005 at 12:04 am |

    Marian,
    Based on the way you use the out of context quotes to justify your one-sided view of what Friedan was trying to say, it seems that although you may have read the books a while ago, you didn’t get much out of them. I recommend a thoughtful re-read without having made up your mind to hate her in advance. The entire book (which I just finished reading for the first time) is made up of interviews with housewives. She did not project. She interviewed real people.

  77. Quisp
    Quisp June 2, 2005 at 12:20 am |

    You can’t leave a fart in a room. Farts follow you. That’s a rule.

  78. Tex
    Tex June 2, 2005 at 12:42 am |

    Thanks so much for the heads up about the Amazon thingie, Lauren. It’s really bitchin.

    Marian, the reason why no one believes in your credibility is that you went from very strongly asserting that some truly shocking statements about the worthlessness of the housewife were “Direct quotes from the literature.” Questioned on this, you asserted that “Even if the quotes are from an antifeminist site, they are directly from the books” and then finally, said
    “…I’m at work and don’t have the books in front of me. I don’t even own them. I just said I’d read them at one point. I did get the quotes from the web, but they are not “full” of ellipses and brackets. Actually, the last one only has one bracket around one capital letter. I don’t think you can claim that they’re being twisted too far out of context.”

    So, whatever you meant by “direct quote” keeps getting diluted further and further until all the evidence becomes a bit suspect.

    Furthermore, using that great tool from Amazon, we can all see that the quotes you gave us, confirming Sally’s worst fears, were cobbled together from unrelated sections of the books in question. Take the de Beauvoir. The first two sentences are from the conclusion chapter and the rest are from a couple of hundred pages earlier in the book, certainly an unorthodox use of the elipse, even if it is not a “full elipse,” whatever that means. The Friedan quote is even worse in playing fast and loose with the facts.

    So, after having belittled everyone’s hesitation about the quotes, telling us that “You can’t take reality and mould it to fit your agenda, which is what some people in these discussions were doing,” I feel that you’re being unreasonably touchy, tho commendably bold.

  79. Marching Orders
    Marching Orders June 2, 2005 at 2:25 pm |

    Index Librorum Prohibitorum: Wingnut edition

    I wanted to add some value to the list by including links to Barnes & Noble, where you might purchase these books yourself before they’re removed from the electronic shelves altogether.

  80. judgemc
    judgemc June 2, 2005 at 6:36 pm |

    Have you check out Marian’s latest post on her blog. She really has a conveluted idea of what a feminist is. Oh, and she thinks feminism is resposible for rapid rise of the cost of living over the last 50 years.

  81. Lauren
    Lauren June 2, 2005 at 6:55 pm |

    JudgeMC: Yes, I saw it and it is ridiculous. You and Jill did a fine job clarifying the reality of feminist thought.

    I was not of the mind to object — I’m not seeking converts any longer.

  82. piny
    piny June 2, 2005 at 7:28 pm |

    My favorite part was how she responded to Jill’s presence–and Lauren’s and Amanda’s existence–by saying that, well, you’re the exceptions to the rule, obviously, and almost all feminists are bitter single women.

    I am tired of this idea that families were better off when women were given no working support. My mom worked long hours all through my childhood not because she wanted a career, but because her misogynist boss forced her out of her job and into a living through teaching high school and writing grants. Sexism deprived her of job security, earning power, and the kind of career-track that would have allowed her to set her hours. None of that was good for our family. It’s true–as feminists do not hesitate to point out–that SAHM’s and moms in general aren’t given much credit by society, or much social support. This does not mean that assistance and value is a zero-sum game. It definitely doesn’t mean that making it harder or less desirable for women to work outside the home will make them more attentive parents, or give them more stable households.

    And it is just plain disingenuous for MS to act as though her Whither Mothers screeds are gender-neutral. Inattentive mothers. Career gals. Bitter feminists. Single women. My dad, with his sixty-hour work week and the utterly independent tradition that shaped his schedule, is nowhere in this blame game. She knows so.

  83. Half the Sins of Mankind
    Half the Sins of Mankind June 2, 2005 at 8:41 pm |

    When Phyllis Schlafly Represents Womanhood

    Good stuff in the comments at Pandagon; as several people there point out, contra ASV, Human Events presumably isn’t saying that one ought not read these books. As for the absence of Rawls from the list, he’s probably too recent for judges of this vi…

  84. Abnormal Interests
    Abnormal Interests June 2, 2005 at 10:31 pm |

    Darwin’s Harmful Books

    I’m a little late in writing about Human Events’ list of the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th century. It has taken me a while to get over the fact that we did not have all of…

  85. judgemc
    judgemc June 3, 2005 at 9:05 am |

    Lauren, no reason to feed the troll unless you really want the fight. lol

  86. Amanda
    Amanda June 3, 2005 at 10:59 am |

    JudgeMC, you shouldn’t have pointed me to her blog. I already have too many people on my short list for mockery.

  87. judgemc
    judgemc June 3, 2005 at 3:59 pm |

    I’m sorry, but I don’t follow what you are saying to me. I was just agreeing with you on why you didn’t comment. You said you were not looking for converts. So there is no reason to comment to her if you don’t want the argument. I was just agreeing, why would you mock me?

  88. Quisp
    Quisp June 3, 2005 at 8:43 pm |

    Not you. (unless I’m missing something)

  89. judgemc
    judgemc June 3, 2005 at 9:03 pm |

    Oooohhhh! You know I think you are right. I’m having a wierd day. And I’m just feeling touchy for some reason.

    Amanda Just disregard the earlier post.

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