Monday, May 4, 2009

Quick hit: Marilyn French, novelist and radical feminist, has died

How can you not love a woman who said of her work, "My goal in life is to change the entire social and economic structure of Western civilization, to make it a feminist world"? Marilyn French, sadly, died on Saturday at the age of 79. French was the author of The Woman's Room, the story of a submissive housewife's self-discovery in the 1950s, which sold more than 20 million copies and was translated into 20 languages. Gloria Steinem compared the book's impact to that of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, saying "[The book] expressed the experience of a huge number of women and let them know that they were not alone and not crazy."

French was notoriously considered anti-male, because of the strong anti-rape rhetoric in her work (although this is understandable, as she was helping her daughter, a rape victim, recover). But she was also one of the most important faces of second-wave feminism, and I respect her equal willingness to point out the gains that have been made since the publication of her seminal novel, and the deficiencies that still remain.


At May 4, 2009 at 3:04 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

It's a sad day when simply being "anti-male" is enough to turn off a lot of listeners. RIP Ms. French.

At May 4, 2009 at 3:59 PM , Blogger TommyD said...

Of course, and hopefully no listener here is turned off by someone who is anti-woman, -gay, -lesbian, -trans, -feminist, -Jew, -Black, -artist, -Asian, -Muslim, -Latino, -Italian, -worker, -Catholic, -Filipino, -Navajo, -Finnish, etc., etc., etc.

At May 4, 2009 at 4:33 PM , Anonymous Rhea said...

I thought she was a genius. The impact The Women's Room had on me was immeasurable. Everyone I knew was reading it back in the 1970s-80s.


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