Marilyn French's Anger

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
May 5 2009 2:45 PM

Marilyn French's Anger

I remember reading Marilyn French's The Women's Room , her 1977 novel about the world of oppressive, forced domesticity that was the expected lot of women of her generation-French just died at age 79-and being so grateful that world had broken apart because of women like her. Her obits in the Times and the Post show French remained a woman of the second wave of feminism -who saw the institutional oppression by men everywhere and who retained a burning anger about it. Probably she was angry that young woman didn't share her anger. But why should they be incensed about their oppression when they live in a world in which their opportunities are abundant and assumed? As I was reading her obituaries, and feeling that she had become an anachronistic figure, I saw this line quoted from her 1992 book, The War Against Women : ""Men’s need to dominate women may be based in their own sense of marginality or emptiness; we do not know its root, and men are making no effort to discover it." She suddenly didn't seem so anachronistic anymore, since every day we read in both the Times and the Post about the inroads the Taliban is making into Pakistan. We are living in a time when women on the other side of the world have to worry about having acid thrown in their faces for wanting to go to school, a time in which a nuclear power is ceding territory to a group which beats, even murders women, for leaving the house unaccompanied by a man. Saudi Arabia does not allow its female citizens to drive. A few years ago they let schoolgirls trapped in a fire burn to death because if the firemen rescued them they'd see the girls not completely covered. The urge to dominate-and obliterate-is frighteningly present.

Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.