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The Gate to Women's Country

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  7,819 ratings  ·  462 reviews
Tepper's finest novel to date is set in a post-holocaust feminist dystopia that offers only two political alternatives: a repressive polygamist sect that is slowly self-destructing through inbreeding and the matriarchal dictatorship called Women's Country. Here, in a desperate effort to prevent another world war, the women have segregated most men into closed military garr ...more
Hardcover, 278 pages
Published August 1st 1988 by Doubleday (first published November 1st 1987)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Katie
Gender essentialist, heterosexist, cissexist garbage. Avoid at all costs.
Bridget Mckinney

One reviewer on Goodreads calls The Gate to Women's Country "gender essentialist, heterosexist, cissexist garbage," and it is, I suppose. First published in 1988,The Gate to Women's Country is very second-wave feminist and exhibits many of the problems one would expect from that description. It's also beautiful and sad and, while exclusionary, an otherwise excellent and enjoyable treatment of the issues that it did deal with.


The Gate to Women's Country examines an (honestly not-so-unlikely) hy

...more
Amy Sturgis
Tepper offers a fascinating meditation on how a post-apocalyptic people might seek to limit the potential for future violence and thus avoid another devastating (presumably nuclear) holocaust. The division of genders into Women's Country and the Warrior society is a deeply unsettling one. The men live a Hobbesian life that is nasty, brutish, and short, while the women preserve a disconcertingly passive-aggressive tyranny based on secrets and half-truths and closeted eugenics programs. The book s ...more
Christy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Synesthesia (SPIDERS!)
I hate this book. Maybe I should read it again, but there's so many other books I want to read, so many other books I'd rather read again than this one.
Maybe there was some sort of thing I missed the first time I read it in college, but mostly it made me mad.
They got rid of homosexuality, most of the men are brutes and fascist and violent, except for the servitors. Yet the women still have sex with the brutish men even as they are trying to breed them out of existence.
Then you get some random sc
...more
Amanda
This is the book that introduced me to Sheri Tepper. It addresses questions of why humanity is so violent and possible solutions, of gender politics, of what a future might be like if men and women did not live together as a rule.
In this post-apocalyptic future, matriarchal women live in walled towns, carrying on agriculture, arts, crafts and politics. Men live outside the towns in warrior garrisons, to protect the women.
The story is about our heroine and how she learns some of the secrets of h
...more
F.R.
Well, here’s some fantastic feminist science fiction. ‘The Gate to Women’s Country’ takes gender roles, pushes them to the limit and sees a way to both destroy and rebuild them. It presents a compulsively drawn world, which looks forward and back as far as the ancient Greeks, to examine how defined the differences between society’s views of men and women are. On the surface, it’s about how these roles are fixed – with woman’s place as the mother and man’s as the warrior and the protector. But in ...more
Greg
I remember reading this book for a Science Fiction class I took in college. Unlike probably everyone else in the class, except for my friend Chris, I hadn't ever gone through a scifi phase, or ever liked reading scifi books. The closest I ever came was really liking Star Wars and other movies as a kid. I'd even tried once reading a Star Wars novel as a kid and thought it was stupid and gave up on it.

So I took this class in a genre I had no interest in, and the teacher was all gung-ho about sf b
...more
Kathleen
I have found Tepper to be frustratingly uneven as a writer. When her stories take on what might be called a "feminist" theme, they don't work as well for me as those who explore other themes.

This novel has a frame that I found especially irritating because the emotions described in the frame were never earned, and I did not find myself believing in or caring about them.

The inner story was, by contrast, quite engaging, and I found myself wishing that she had left out the frame entirely.
Zach
The Gloria Steinem of second-wave-inspired post-apocalyptic novels of gender separation? (making Walk to the End of the World Shulamith Firestone, perhaps, and The Shore of Women... Simone de Beauvoir? I don't know, I haven't actually read those two yet) Anyway my point is that this is the sort-of-essentialist (but maybe not?) liberal feminist version of the story, wherein men and women are fundamentally different and need to be mostly kept separate for their own good, except for those "womanish ...more
Cara
Of all the books by Sheri S. Tepper I have read, this is perhaps the most overtly feminist in that the post-apocalyptic society she describes is clearly matriarchal. Yet it is not an angry, man-bashing diatribe. Instead The Gate To Women's Country presents a fledgling eco-utopian society where the ultimate aim is balance and equality between the sexes within a pacifist, non-violent culture. The means by which the Women's Council set out to achieve this balance, however, are both morally and ethi ...more
Ed Mestre
Sheri Tepper has yet to let me down. I don't read a lot of science fiction, but when I do it is most often Philip K. Dick or Tepper. Dick for his street philosopher questioning the nature of reality, psychedelic prankster approach. And Tepper's imaginative & unique, often non-linear writing with a definite, but never strident, female perspective. In the 3 books of hers I've read, "Fresco", "Family Tree", & here "The Gate to Women's Country" the protagonists are women.

In this one she tak
...more
Petra
I had some issues with this novel that prevented me from giving it a higher rating:

1. not-so-subtle ramming of author's opinions down the reader's throat, and poor characterization as a result:
from evil inbred religious extremists, to equally cliched women-are-the-sufferers Iphigenia play (not to mention those evil hyper-masculine men that make sufferers out of women)...

2. depiction of homosexuality as an illness that gets successfully eliminated by some good ol' genetic manipulation



3. gender e
...more
Emily
My review just disappeared and I really don't feel like regurgitating the specifics of my dislike for this book again, so this will be shorter than my original. How annoying.

Basically, the book left a sour taste in my mouth... The only options for civilization (or anything resembling it) are a primitive, polygamous society that abuses its women and leaves infant girls out to die; roving bands of Gypsies that act as traveling whorehouses; and Women's Country where the "Damned Few" keep the truth
...more
Gretchen
A friend sent me this knowing full well that I didn't like futuristic novels-he said I am sending this to one of the strongest women I know! I have probably read it 100 plus times (it is like comfort food-I found myself reading it along with the New Testament the week my sweet husband died ). I like the empowerment given to some women even though the men can't or don't want to understand. The empowered women see themselves as the damned as they manipulate the DNA and the numbers of their civiliz ...more
Tom
More like 3.5 and the end had me nudging the 4.

Women's country is the story of a society created after we almost wiped humans off the face of the earth with our wars. Their idea is to keep the women separated from the warriors. The boys are taken from their families at age five to train with the warriors. At age 15 they need to make a decision on whether they want to live inside the walls with the women or continue their lives as fighters. The wars that are fought include only the warriors so t
...more
Martin
One thing I hate about many books is that they often starts off with flying colors with amazing prose and plotting, making me think it's going to be my new favorite book. And then they usually glided, or stumbled, down into disappointments by the end of the story, when the author clearly ran out of ideas or got simply lazy.

Not with this author.

In fact, I hated the first 25 pages. The writing was too forced, too 'overwrought,' as Tepper attempted to set up the background and history of her story.
...more
carmie
This is my favorite Sheri S. Tepper book. Many people consider her work to be "lite," and that characterisation is accurate. But easily understood, broadly stated truths are truths nonetheless.

I enjoy this book first and foremost for its detailed and fascinating depiction of a post-apocalyptic matriarchal society (much less depressing than A Canticle for Leibowitz). The characters are well-fleshed out and compassionately portrayed, even the villains. And despite the futuristic setting, this is
...more
Nakashi
I'm not sure what to say about this book. The first Tepper I read was Beauty when I was 14 and it left me unsettled and fascinated, but this book just left me nonplussed. Unlike Beauty, I kept waiting to be drawn into the story although I'm not sure how much of it I should attribute to Tepper's storytelling and how much to the fact that I am immediately put off by gender essentialism.

I found the inclusion of the Holyland in the story to present an alternative society where the power equation wa
...more
Glen Engel-Cox
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pippi Bluestocking
*Not sure if this contains spoilers because it's mostly ranting. Read at your own risk.*

This is hardly a review, just some initial thoughts.

First, this book gets 4 (more like 3,5) stars because it was really well written, with an amazing premise which, nevertheless, was explored in some ways I found fantastic and some I found terrible. It's not the thing I'd recommend gratuitously, only to really well-read readership. Truth is, the fact that I had read beforehand an interview of Tepper's which w
...more
Shannon
The book started out fairly strong. I was interested in the feminine society and the roles that women played within it. But, at some point I just got bored. It seemed like there were too many additional characters being interested and different story lines. However, at the end the author tied everything together nicely. Did I ENJOY the story? No. Have I thought about it a lot? Absolutely! I think I just came to point where I believed that there neither a male nor female dominated society is good ...more
Justin
This is probably the worst science fiction book that I have ever actually finished reading. Tepper's agenda gets in the way of any developed narrative as she instead uses hundreds of pages to voice her disgust for the male gender in a fashion reminiscent of a jaded high school girls blog. As a man who strongly opposes the alpha male, meathead style of masculinity, I found this book particularly ignorant.
Deana
Jul 03, 2015 Deana rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Deana by: pajulintunen
This book was so much more than I was expecting! It came highly recommended by an online friend a few years ago but I kept putting it off, expecting it to be campy and have an overpowering "agenda" that would detract from its plot. I finally picked it up for a challenge (why else?!) and I'm so glad I did. This has definitely become a fast favorite.

While the book does in fact have an agenda, Tepper does not beat you over the head with it. In fact, it's not until the very end of the book that it's
...more
Wendy
What a let down. Sure, the plot kept me going, but I resent anyone, male or female, who confuses feminism with man-hating. As a woman, I found this book profoundly insulting to the men I love, and even many of the men I don't. The only men who aren't lying, raping, manipulative butchers are some sort of mutant freaks that the women are trying to breed for? What kind of equality is that? What kind of dialogue of mutual understanding will come out of reading this? Ursula Le Guin can not only write ...more
Trixie B
This book found me while I was browsing through used sci-fi paperbacks and I bought it for two reasons. The first was that the cover treatment reminded me of Snow Crash thus endearing itself to me by association. The second is that I have particular interest in science fiction by women, since that's what my first novel will classify as, should I ever finish it.

Like most sci-fi by women, there isn't enough action or technology; gender roles are explored through interpersonal relationships, and
...more
Mara
Sep 19, 2007 Mara rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with no imagination
Shelves: fantasy, gender_what
Issues of gender and the strange relationship dance between men and women have always interested me, so I picked this up with hope. The premise is the story: men and women live in divided societies and only occasionally meet to reproduce the next crop. Not surprisingly, the men's society is a military one, the women's society a quiet, peaceful, kinda gossipy haven. In a book like this, you expect the inevitable: that men and women are going to get it together in the end, like a sitcom where no m ...more
Karla
Aug 24, 2011 Karla marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Karla by: Tim
The pace was too slow for me, and the inclusion of swathes of "Iphigenia at Troy" slowed it down even more. The alternating chapters of past and present made it impossible to set it down and pick it up easily, a problem for me since I have an erratic reading schedule.

Quite awhile ago I'd been told what the Big Reveal was but had completely forgotten what it was. However, by pg. 60 with mention of the Laplanders' selective breeding of reindeer, it seemed obvious what Woman's Country's big secret
...more
Jamie
After an awkward beginning (I nearly put the book down before page 50) I enjoyed this. The Holylanders were a little over-the-top, but if I had read this when I was younger I probably would have been as fascinated by them as I was by the chained women of Darkover's Dry Towns.

The story contains an ugly sort of feminism, but I've read so many books where women are supressed that it didn't feel too bad to go the other way for once.

The author gave a point of view from every faction except the servi
...more
Jennie Mars
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Sheri Stewart Tepper is a prolific American author of science fiction, horror and mystery novels; she is particularly known as a feminist science fiction writer, often with an ecofeminist slant.

Born near Littleton, Colorado, for most of her career (1962-1986) she worked for Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood, where she eventually became Executive Director. She has two children and is married to Gen
...more
More about Sheri S. Tepper...
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“Men like to think well of themselves, and poets help them do it.” 6 likes
“HECUBA: I had a knife in my skirt, Achilles. When Talthybius bent over me, I could have killed him. I wanted to. I had the knife just for that reason. Yet, at the last minute I thought, he's some mother's son just as Hector was, and aren't we women all sisters? If I killed him, I thought, wouldn't It be like killing family?Wouldn't it be making some other mother grieve? So I didn't kill him, but if I had, I might have saved Hector's child. Dead or damned, that's the choice we make. Either you men kill us and are honored for it, or we women kill you and are damned for it. Dead or damned. Women don't have to make choices like that in Hades. There is no love there, nothing to betray.” 5 likes
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