Book burning

A group called Advocates for Medical Information burned J. Robert Willson’s textbook on the Diag in the spring of 1973. (Photo courtesy of The Michigan Daily)

 In the spring of 1973, local activists calling themselves Advocates for Medical Information charged that “Obstetrics and Gynecology,” a textbook written by the chair of obstetrics and gynecology, J. Robert Willson, was sexist and should be burned. They referenced passages that said “feminine narcissism, masochism, and passivity” were core traits of the feminine personality and, “The normal sexual act … entails a masochistic surrender to the man. … There is always an element of rape.” While some applauded the gesture, The Michigan Daily called the protest “boorish and disgusting” for mirroring Nazi book-burning tactics. When the day arrived, 150 students and two police officers looked on as the event went on unobstructed. The textbook was revised for the next edition, with the changes attributed to the women’s liberation movement.

— Adapted from “Book burning” by James Tobin, Michigan Today


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