Missing women

January 21, 2000

Just two of the 17 contributors to The Millennium Magazine (THES, December 24/31 1999) were women. Editor Auriol Stevens pre-empts criticism by declaring it was the millenn-ium of men.

Yet the texts could have been written so differently.

Female thinkers, artists and scientists existed but the magazine contributors generally ignore this and with authority. That persecuted witches were mainly women is explained as "misogyny". Mary Wollstonecraft is lost in a diagram. There is no mention of romantic texts by Mary Shelley, Georges Sand and Eliot or the Bront s. Gender aspects of the lone male romantic are undeveloped. John Mill's work (influenced by a female) on the subjection of women appears as comic cartoon. Sartre yes, de Beauvoir no.

Illustrations show anonymous females: foils to famous men. Dorothy Hodgkin has a walk-on part. The pioneering work of Rosalind Franklin gets one ambivalent sentence. Her photo is a mere flutter. Men are constructed as the sole agents, women are reduced to illustrative value.

Judith Okely Professor of social anthropology University of Hull

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