Anna Anthropy's Reviews > The Female Man

The Female Man by Joanna Russ
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Jun 08, 12

Read in June, 2012

this book. this book, this book, this book.

this book is angry, it's furious and brilliant. it reminds me of hothead paisan, except instead of being about a queer urban woman it's from the perspective of a white, middle-class professional. it lives in the same suburb as the feminine mystique, but the author still eviscerates men and fucks women on her journey to catharsis.

here is a book that, you realize, had to have been mismarketed to exist in the time and place it did at all. it's spun as a science fiction odyssey because who would buy an autobiographical collection of one woman's rants? (me, forty years later.) characters leap through worlds and realities, but how they do so is not important, what's important is how they react to meeting their reflections and recognizing their capabilities.

one thing that made me wrinkle my face is how trans women are treated in a part of this book, or a kind of trans woman. trans women like me didn't exist in the 70s in the way that i exist now, sure, but what does it say of an author that she can imagine a cyborg amazon utopia but not a world where transgender people exist as something other than a male invention to suit male needs? can we compare her to diane dimassa, who rejects them in full cognizance of their presence and experiences? does she get off the hook?

my brow-furrowing at this particular vision of our world - a version of our future if we fail to solve the problem of gender - didn't stop my from crying at the end of the book. i cried for a lot of reasons, not the least of all is that neither i nor you nor anyone i love gets to live in whileaway, the one thing in the book that is truly an invention of fiction - a world where women are universally free, to travel, to explore, to love and to fuck, to choose for themselves rather than have choices made for them. though not, lest i mischaracterize the book, without exception.

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