The Female Man
by Joanna Russ
an incredibly feminist-lesbian science fiction view of time/space travel, wonderful,
i loved reading it. but more than that, it stays with me. it's been weeks since
i read it and still several times a day i recall something from the book, and not
just recall it. but react to it.
react with much intensity, the full gamut of emotions: love, hate, fear, delight,
dread, absolute pleasure, discomfort, everything, sometimes several at once.
written by a woman, of course, and of course i suspect she's both a feminist and a
lesbian, cannot imagine that one could write something like this and be otherwise.
story of four women (one of the main characters isn't introduced until the last third
of the book or later), they live in different probabilities of earth, they meet and
interact with each other and others from their respective worlds, the one who drew
most of my attention most quickly (quite deliberately on the author's part i'm sure)
was a place called Whileaway. there were no men on whileaway and hadn't been for 8
or 9 centuries, that was certainly an interesting thought.
one of the most delightful passages in the whole book was one in which janet from
whileaway was doing a tv talk show in new york in 1969 and was asked by a (male)
moderator if the women on whileaway were excited about the possibility of visits of
men from earth, she couldn't quite get the point of what he meant (you know of
course) until he finally had to discreetly hint that he was referring to their lack
of sexual love.
she: oh! you mean copulation.
she: and you say we don't have that?!
she: how foolish of you. of course we do.
he: ah? (he wants to say, "don't tell me.")
she: with each other, allow me to explain.
needless to say she was cut off the air before the explanation spewed forth.
i loved the frankness, i loved his embarassment which i perceived to be great, and
i loved her response to him which was irritation, even rudeness, not embarassment to
his embarassment. (a "normal" woman's reaction.)
jeanine was from a probability similar to ours in the 1960's and is probably just the
epitome of "normal" schizophrenic woman here and now. wanted intensely to get married
because she wanted to believe that would magically settle all her frustrations, hostilities, confusions, etc. she knew it wouldn't but wanted to think it would, naturally, there was a lot of outside pressure in that direction.
she nearly succumbed, but didn't; to tell you why she changed would spoil the effect
of the entire book, i think, too bad. i'd love to.