After centuries of conditioning of the female into the condition of perpetual girlishness called femininity, we cannot remember what femaleness is. Though feminists have been arguing for years that there is a self-defining female energy, and a female libido that is not expressed merely in response to demands by the male, and a female way of being and of experiencing the world, we are still not close to understanding what it might be. Yet every mother who has held a girl child in her arms has known that she was different from a boy child and that she would approach the reality around her in a different way. She is a female and she will die female, and though many centuries should pass, archaeologists would identify her skeleton as the remains of a female creature.
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- There has come into existence, chiefly in America, a breed of men who claim to be feminists. They imagine that they have understood what women want and that they are capable of giving it to them. They help with the dishes at home and make their own coffee in the office, basking the while in the refulgent consciousness of virtue. Such men are apt to think of the true male feminists as utterly chauvinistic.
- What we ought to see in the agonies of puberty is the result of the conditioning that maims the female personality in creating the feminine.
- Women over fifty already form one of the largest groups in the population structure of the western world. As long as they like themselves, they will not be an oppressed minority. In order to like themselves they must reject trivialization by others of who and what they are. A grown woman should not have to masquerade as a girl in order to remain in the land of the living.
- Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark. The pleasure they give is steady, unorgastic, reliable, deep and long-lasting. In any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still and absorbed.
- Older women can afford to agree that femininity is a charade, a matter of colored hair, ecru lace and whalebones, the kind of slap and tat that transvestites are in love with, and no more.
- The most threatened group in human societies as in animal societies is the unmated male: the unmated male is more likely to wind up in prison or in an asylum or dead than his mated counterpart. He is less likely to be promoted at work and he is considered a poor credit risk.