Nicholas During's Reviews > The Female Man

The Female Man by Joanna Russ
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Aug 08, 12

Read from August 03 to 07, 2012

A truly great feminist book, and even more amazing as a feminist sci-fi book. Reminds me a lot of Alan Garner's Red Shift, although unfortunately, not as well written—that book has some totally amazing dialogue, this one misses that with a more didactic tone. However, though I don't think it is that well written, it makes up for that flaw with some pretty impressive philosophical feminist musings on history, psychology, gender, society, violence, and the future. It is also surprisingly funny at places too, which is great way to get away from the didacticism previously mentioned.

I'm not really going to go into all the points it tries to get across, because I don't really want to get into a feminism debate. But I will say that it is not out of date. This might be more of an issue on the fate of feminism in mainstream culture since the 70s, and though it none of the themes that Russ brings up will surprise anyone with a modest knowledge of feminism, it still does have some pretty cool stuff. And Russ means it. She is angry. She (and her characters) are violent. She is not going to compromise in debates with men. But she is not going to praise women and let them off the hook, it is obvious that they too are at fault for their own inferior positions, even if it is just accepting cultural norms taught from childbirth.

This is a really interesting book for someone interested in feminism. It will, however, probably not grab the average (male, or am I buying into the stereotype of sci-fi readers and indirectly all stereotyped gender roles?) sci-fi reader. Or someone who doesn't care about feminism. But if you're the latter, you probably should.
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