Four years ago I came up with something I called the Russ Pledge, named after Joanna Russ, a simple way of improving the visibility of women’s writing on the shelves and in the media. In light of recent information, I want to amend that pledge slightly to foreground women writing about women.
The Russ Pledge
The single most important thing we (readers, writers, journalists, critics, publishers, editors, etc.) can do to improve the visibility of books by and about women, and to secure that visibility for the future, is talk about them whenever we talk about books. And if we honestly can’t think of books by and about women ‘good enough’ to match those about men then we should wonder aloud (or in print) why that is so. If it’s appropriate (it might not be, always) we should point to the historical bias that consistently reduces the stature of women’s literature; we should point to Joanna Russ’s How to Suppress Women’s Writing, which is still the best book I’ve ever read on the subject. We should take the pledge to make a considerable and consistent effort to mention work by women about women which, consciously or unconsciously, has been suppressed. Call it the Russ Pledge. I like to think she would have approved.