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The Gate to Women's Country
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The Gate to Women's Country

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  9,879 Ratings  ·  610 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
Paperback, 315 pages
Published 1999 by Voyager (first published November 1st 1987)
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Meredith Lindsey's answer is correct. The men don't mistreat nature per se; that's not a thing in this novel. Most of the men have just two main focuses:…moreLindsey's answer is correct. The men don't mistreat nature per se; that's not a thing in this novel. Most of the men have just two main focuses: military/fighting, fathering sons. There are other men in the novel who have specific characteristics that are more valued by the women for reasons I won't reveal here. It's really about how the women have taken over control in this small part of the world, how they run it, and expect a twist in the end.(less)

Community Reviews

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Bridget Mckinney
Jun 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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) hyp
Jun 11, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Gender essentialist, heterosexist, cissexist garbage. Avoid at all costs.
Spider the Doof Warrior
May 23, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
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
Oct 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
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.
Jun 16, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
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
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this one too much, honestly. I hadn’t heard 100% good things about Tepper’s work before, and some of the great feminist works of SF have been lost on me. (The Female Man, for example — The Gate to Women’s Country is from the same decade, so I wasn’t very hopeful.) And there were some cringe-worthy moments, to be honest; the whole bit about “gay syndrome” being cured now, for example.

Still, for the most part I really enjoyed this. It reminded me a little bit of Jo Walt
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
Firstly, how can anyone rate such an atrociously written book as high as I see it done in hundreds of ratings? Dear me, I was wincing all the time while reading. The excruciatingly bad prose, including some horrific abuse of grammar, was having an effect like a severe toothache on me. Where was the fecking editor of this book? Because this sort of prose was in no way typical of writers of the 1980s (book is from 1987), when you get such female SciFi, Fantasy and spec authors as C.J. Cherryh, Urs ...more
Ed Mestre
Nov 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Very much a product of its time! Post-nuclear war, societies are sorting themselves out and we get to witness two ways of dealing with things. One is very, very matriarchal, the other over-the-top patriarchal. As I began reading, I started with the impression that I was exploring a very patriarchal set-up. Fooled me! Yes, the women and men live (mostly) separately and the women must present sons to the warriors to be raised in warrior culture. But women control almost everything else (medicine, ...more
Jun 04, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, favorites
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
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 04, 2008 rated it did not like it
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.
Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
May 07, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Glen Engel-Cox
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laurie Notaro
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting: dystopian, maybe a little sic-fi; fdef out of my go-to range. Nice to read something I wouldn't ordinarily pick: Read this for our NOW book group.
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
Jamie Collins
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
Dec 19, 2013 rated it liked it
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Native Tongue (Native Tongue, #1)
  • The Shore of Women
  • A Door Into Ocean
  • Ammonite
  • Drowning Towers
  • Walk to the End of the World (Holdfast Chronicles, #1)
  • Houston, Houston, Do You Read?
  • The Female Man
  • Remnant Population
  • Halfway Human
  • Woman on the Edge of Time
  • The Fifth Sacred Thing (Maya Greenwood, #1)
  • Dreamsnake
  • A Gift Upon the Shore
  • Beggars in Spain (Sleepless, #1)
  • Imago (Xenogenesis, #3)
  • A Woman's Liberation: A Choice of Futures by and About Women
  • Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century
Sheri Stewart Tepper was a prolific American author of science fiction, horror and mystery novels; she was 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 G
More about Sheri S. Tepper...

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“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.” 10 likes
“Men like to think well of themselves, and poets help them do it.” 7 likes
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