Jun 25, 09
Read in June, 2009
What would the world be like if there were no men? In Gilman's vision, it would be perfect. This is an interesting story: Part utopian novel and part Victorian-era travelogue. But what I enjoyed is Gilman's insight into love, lust, competition verses cooperation and the relationships between men and women. Published in 1915, Gilman gently discusses these issues without using the blunt vocabulary one would find in a similar book published today. What the discussion lacked is depth, though she achieves much in her brevity. In Gilman's defense, the story isn't intended to be a treatise on gender roles, but a vision of society void of men.
After more than a year of living in Herland, the narrator, a man, says, "We were now well used to seeing women not as females, but as people; people of all sorts, doing every kind of work." A revelation, sadly, that nearly 100 years later we still haven't fully achieved.