The long history of prejudice against women has been the focus of many academic studies, but until now there has been no attempt to collect actual examples of this prejudice from books, articles, and scholarly monographs. In Her Place gathers together dozens of works – mostly by American writers over the past two centuries but also by some European writers who influenced American thought – that embody the scorn and contempt for the “weaker sex” that most women endured for countless generations until very recently. Masterfully edited by S. T. Joshi, who has included brief biographies of the writers as well as footnotes to explain obscure historical, literary, and other allusions, much of this material has never been reprinted since its original publication.
As Joshi points out, this is the work, not of a few isolated cranks, but of the leading members of the intellectual, social, and political communities. They published their opinions through prestigious publishers, magazines, and newspapers. Scientists purported to discover physiological evidence for woman’s supposed intellectual deficiencies and their absence of the “creative faculty.” Fear of women’s sexuality was a prime motivator of a great deal of prejudice, ranging from disapproval of coeducation to a defense of the double standard of morality, whereby men but not women were permitted sexual dalliance without undue censure. Religion, always a pillar of social conservatism, emphasized women’s subordination to men as a commandment handed down by God. So thorough was men’s indoctrination of sexual prejudice throughout society that even women absorbed it and came to believe in their own inferiority.
Reading the unabashed bias against women so evident in these pages brings the entrenched misogyny of American society into vivid focus and makes one appreciate all the more the immense efforts of feminists who for more than a century have worked to overcome the stereotypes of “womanly” behavior long enforced by men.
Hardcover | $29.99
Published by Prometheus Books Feb 06, 2006| 458 Pages| 6 x 9| ISBN 9781591023807
“Anyone wishing to understand the overwhelming challenges faced by women’s-rights activists from the movement’s earliest days to the dawn of the Second Wave need look no further than Joshi’s illuminating, and downright infuriating, examples of pervasively misogynistic thinking.” Booklist
“Reading these exposés is an eye opening look into the mindset and roots of this ancient bias; they show how very far we have come in some ways…and also demonstrate how far this conservative culture has to go before true equality may be realized.”