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May 16, 2011

The Women’s Review of Books  

Vol. II, No. 3 December, 1984 $1.50

Published monthly, The Women’s Review of Books began in 1983 and remains in print through the Wellesley Centers for Women. More information here.

This issue contains reviews on “Pleasure & Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality,” edited by Carole S. Vance:: “Black Women Writers (1950-1980) Critical Evaluation,” edited by Mari Evans:: and “Diane Arbus: A Biography” by Patricia Bosworth.

The following is an excerpt from Trojan Woman… a review of “Cassandra: a Novel and Four Essays” by Christa Wolf, which was reviewed by Marilyn French (author of The Women’s Room).

“Our history is fiction, a tale selected from an infinite number of possibilities; and our fiction provides history. Both have formed our ideas about what kind of creatures we are, about the nature of life, love, and power. What is left of the past- its architecture, its artifacts, but above all the written word- directs and defines our notion of ourselves, the human race. But humans determined the character of this written word; those humans with the power to choose rewarded, revered, and preserved one kind of literature and not others. And what they chose is literature by men about men for men. The human past is a drama in which- as in the rituals of many “primitive” societies, in Noh drama, in Greek, Roman, and Elizabethan theatre- men play all the parts and women are not admitted except sometimes as audience. Nor are all men welcome onstage: the one-legged ex-soldier, the ragged tinker, the old goatherd who still stinks of his trade are relegated to the women’s fire, the women’s tents. The historian is not interested in the powerless; nor is he interested in women: history is a fiction dedicated to the exaltation of the powerful male…”

The Second Sex – Thirty Years Later

A Commemorative Conference on Feminist Theory
September 27-29, 1979  

Schedule of seminars with topics such as::
Socialism and the Liberation of Women by Judith Stacey & Marilyn Young
The Significance of Women’s Mothering by Barbara Bick, Magdalena Catala, Dalia Judovitz and Martha Moia
Femininity: The Sickness Unto Death by Lucy Gilbert and Paula Webster

Another result of the Second Sex Conference was a discourse perpetuated by letters printed in various journals on the lack of diversity at the conference.  Most of these are in reference to a speech by Audre Lorde, given at the conference, which debatably denounced the conference.  Letters and excerpts of letters between critics and organizers of the conference can be found at these links below::

The Personal, the Political, and Others: Audre Lorde Denouncing The Second Sex Conference

Response to Lester Olson (author of The Personal, the Political, and Others) from a conference organizer

Interview with Simone de Beauvoir and two conference organizers

These letters illustrate how both Feminism and the Women’s Movement must grapple with a troublesome history of lacking inclusion with regard to Black Women, other Women of Color, and non-academics.  These issues persist today as people in various movements struggle to find ways to be inclusive of and allies to People of Color, transgender people, people with disabilities, and other groups often marginalized and ignored.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 23, 2011 10:42 pm

    Hello, how are you?! First and foremost, kudos for the informative article. Next, I would like to ask if you have a Twitter account I can follow?


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