Raul Ramos y Sanchez's Reviews > Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
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Oct 21, 12

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In STRANGER, Heinlein exposes many of our social foibles, most notably in politics and religion, through the innocence of main character Michael Valentine Smith (AKA The Man from Mars). During my first read of the book at 21, Heinlein's insights were eye opening. In many ways, this is what scifi does best.

However, re-reading the book decades later, I discovered something I'd missed on the first reading: Heinlein's sexual chauvinism. Reading STRANGER for the second time, I cringed as Heinlein depicted the "good" women in the novel happily embracing subservient roles. Nurses, secretaries, tattooed ladies and astrologers, these were the roles of the central female characters. The sole woman on equal footing with her husband was a shrew. As a young man raised in a less enlightened time, I never questioned Heinlein's portrayal of women. Today, I've grown past those narrow views. Too bad Robert Heinlein never did.
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message 1: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Walters I agree for the most part, although I see this as (unfortunately) more of a symptom of the wider times Heinlein lived and wrote in, rather than a direct reflection on any personal shortcomings he had in regards to writing about the role of women in society. Still, I it was certainly a cringe-inducing aspect of the book when I, too, read it a few years ago.


Raul Ramos y Sanchez Heinlein was ahead his time in many, many ways. Sadly, his attitude toward women was not one of them. All the same, this was a transformative book for me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jonathan.


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