1st Edition

Women of Ideas And What Men Have Done to Them: From Aphra Behn to Adrienne Rich

By Dale Spender Copyright 1982
    602 Pages
    by Routledge

    Originally published in 1982, with characteristic energy, humour and learning Dale Spender traces three hundred years of women’s ideas. She uncovers not only the ways and words of women, but the methods of men. While men control knowledge, she argues, they are in a position to take women’s ideas. If they like them, they use them; if they don’t, they lose them.

    Every fifty years women are required to reinvent the wheel, for every generation of women is initiated into a world in which women’s traditions have been denied and buried.

    Providing convincing evidence that women’s absence from the record as creative intellectual beings is not women’s fault, but men’s, Dale Spender claims at least 150 women from the past and suggests how such erasure can be avoided in the future. Given that men take what they want from women’s ideas, Dale Spender advocates that women withdraw their labour, that they go on a knowledge strike, for if women cannot control the knowledge they produce, at least they can ensure that it cannot be used as evidence against them.

    Exposing the inadequacies of much modern (male) scholarship, the author provides the readers with the opportunity to share in her own discoveries, excitement, and ‘mistakes’ in the process of researching and writing this book. The result is that Women of Ideas: And What Men Have Done to Them is an ambitious and provocative book which will be used as a reference for many years to come, and which is also, from beginning to end, a stimulating read.

    Acknowledgements.  Introduction.  Part I Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Foremothers.  Part II 1800–1850 The Silent Years?  Part III Backwards or Forwards?  (A) North America  (B) Great Britain  Part IV The Twentieth Century  (A) Social Revolution: Process or Event?  (B) Militant and Maligned  (C) Writing as Politics  (D) And When There Were None…  (E) Reinventing Rebellion.  Appendix: Life in Prison.  Chronological Table.  Bibliography.  General Index.  Index of Names.


    Dale Spender

    Reviews for the original edition:

    ‘In the Penguin Modern History of the World, Turkey takes up more index space than do women; that is all women who have ever lived at any time. Thank God for Dale Spender.’ – Jeanette Winterson

    ‘This is no string of biographies; it is a holistic study of feminist political theory.’  – Harriet Gilbert, New Statesman