Advanced Search

Atkinson, Ti-Grace.

Women and Oppression.


Unpublished Annotated Typescript
Atkinson, Ti-Grace. Women and Oppression. Ca. 1971-3.
60 leaves, unbound; with staple holes in the upper left hand corner; typed in red and black ink; with pencil and ink annotations. In a specially made cloth slipcase.
Together with:
Original dark blue folder; with typed label pasted to upper cover, and Georges Borchardt's printed label below; edges faded and worn.
Together with:
Autograph memo, 3pp.; yellow lined paper signed and dated December 29, 2006.
This is the Introduction to an unfinished, unpublished book that Atkinson imagined would be her chef d'ouevre; in a memo that accompanies the piece, Atkinson explains the impetus and scope of this proposed book. It merits quoting in full:
I began writing WOMEN AND OPPRESSION in 1971. This was the book I believed needed to be written, primarily for the Women's Movement. At that time, I couldn't find either a publisher or even an agent who saw the value of this work. In the interim, I published AMAZON ODYSSEY, a collection of some speeches, in 1973-1974. In that year and the following one, I also finally found the right agent for WOMEN AND OPPRESSION, Georges Borchardt. In a short time, Borchardt placed WOMEN AND OPPRESSION with Macmillan in 1975.
In trying to make AMAZON ODYSSEY a coherent book-an otherwise series of unconnected, albeit all feminist, pieces - I collaborated with the artist, Barbara Nessim, to use visual images to move from one speech or paper to another and also to use images to emphasize the essential ideas.  During this process, I became more aware [than ever] of a page as a two-dimensional surface, instead of as only one step in a sequence of pages, arranged in a linear progression.  The black and red type came about when I retyped the first part of the manuscript to WOMEN AND OPPRESSION:  red for the main body of the text, black for interpolations which would usually be relegated to the close of a book under "Endnotes".  Since I did not want to so definitively separate the main thoughts from necessary and/or illuminating comments, I kept both on the same page, demarcating between the two by the use of color.
Eighteen pages have emendations or bracketed words or phrases in Atksinon's hand.
Atkinson's examination of women's oppression is explored philosophically; she explains,
I use my personal evolution into philosophy to begin this introduction, because a woman philosopher-theorist is atypical as a woman and I have no intention of letting my reader off the hook so soon by failing to bridge that gap. The gap between being a woman and being a philosopher or theorist must be defined and understood. Unexplained gaps tend to be romanticized; romance is the first step to getting out of the whole thing - getting out of thinking as well as getting out of acting relevantly. (3)  
She is also very conscious that in attempting to explain women's oppression, she is unavoidably theorizing about human lives:
One of the most important themes, or 'messages', of this book and especially of this 'Introduction' is: In political theory, people's lives are at stake. Approach all work in this area - hypotheses, methodology, verification - with the care and respect the subject matter deserves. 'Mistakes' translate into people's lives, usually other people's lives - for the moment. (2)
In spite of these logical and noteworthy - albeit vaguely overblown - distinctions, Atkinson delves into her discovery and application of philosophy in her life to almost incomprehensible effect. She describes the beginning of her adult life as a painter and an art historian; she soon realized she had too many questions about the nature of art which precluded the ability to criticize it; these which she enumerates and explains in three pages. She concludes,
I knew what the problem was: there was no adequate and functional definition of art. But I didn't know what the problem of the problem was. 'The problem of the problem' is what theory construction is all about. …I was in trouble. My primary asset was that I knew I was in trouble." (10-11)
She then delves into a lengthy discussion about Martin Heidegger and his theories, followed by an explanation of the importance of map-making and diagrams in political theory.
While the inclusion of Heidegger is a device to explain her own philosophical origins, she does not connect this to the relationship between women and oppression. In fact, she does not mention these words together in the same sentence until page 28.  She insists on understanding this relationship, though she never gets around to drawing any conclusions. Although she has identified the problem - "If oppression created human suffering, surely we must isolate and define its causes, development and characteristics before any solution or practical design can be constructed to resolve it. Without understanding a problem that has a capacity for growth, we risk expanding the problem" (28) - she does not supply an answer. It is a shame, however, that the book is incomplete, as it would have yielded insight into this compelling topic.

© 2011-2018 Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, Inc. All Rights Reserved.