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Egalia's Daughters: A Satire of the Sexes

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  2,546 ratings  ·  207 reviews
Welcome to the land of Egalia, where gender roles are topsy-turvy as "wim" wield the power and "menwim" light the home fires. This re-telling of the prototypical coming-of age novel will have readers laughing out loud and wondering who should prevail: poor Petronius, who wants more than anything to cruise the oceans as a seawom; or his powerful and protective mother Direct ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 28th 1995 by Seal Press (first published 1977)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  2,546 ratings  ·  207 reviews

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Oct 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
So, you think our society's not sexist? Wait 'til you read this book. The author turns every aspect of our society that has any sort of a gender tinge to it inside out. Get ready to rethink the language that we use, the rituals that we observe, and the clothes that we wear. ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Aug 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: CS
This book made me angry, which I'm sure is the point. Written in the 1970s to illuminate how sexist current society was, it effectively shows how ridiculous some of the inequalities really are, and how much of it we just ACCEPT (my shift in tense is intentional, since not a lot has changed since then). I got angriest for the examples I hadn't really thought of until now, but I grew up incredibly repressed in my home and my religion just by virtue of my gender, so it felt personal.

I would say th
Nov 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
I read this book in my ultra-feminist college days and periodically go back to re-read it. It's funny how we don't think of many traditions in our society as 'sexist' but when we read it in the inverse (a young boy is expected to have his first sexual experience during a prom-type event, and the older, more experienced women are very aggressive in their pursuit) it sounds ridiculous. It is entertaining until you realize how ingrained sexism is in our society. ...more
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
During my Psychology studies, the gender seminars offered were by far my favorite elective courses, and I took a fair amount of them. This book has been on my radar since a girl I held a presentation with in one of them recommended it to me—I'm convinced I never would've heard of it otherwise. From the get-go, it sounded intriguing, but something I'd have to be in the right mood for, so it ended up sitting on my to-be-read-list for five years, and on my shelf for two. The mood for feminist lit u ...more
MJ Nicholls
Apr 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to MJ by: Scribble Orca
There was a time in the 70s when menwim’s lib was treated with outrage and condescension. When the menwim-libbers threatened to crush the matriarchy, habitually burning their pehos at demonstrations, the wim in charge of the superstructure cowering in their castles and using scorn via the media to defuse the threat. Now times are different. Mothers For Justice campaigners climb up London landmarks in supershero costumes demanding more rights over their children in divorces. Sexism is scrutinised ...more
Apr 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Krazykiwi by: My Swedish teacher, years ago. I think she was a sadist, but I love her for it.
Menwim can't wear trousers, there wouldn't be room in there for their penises and shamebags!

Cleaning in the kitchen, we have this one shelf that tends to accumulate... stuff. And on it, I found my copy of this book, and realised I'd never reviewed it. I also realised, bye-the-bye, that to have got on that shelf, my daughter must have had it in the kitchen, which somehow makes me quite proud, because this is not obviously a book a 15 year old girl would pick up, but it is one that perhaps more s
Karen Mardahl
Aug 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Egalia's Daughters (in Danish) brought back the language of the 70s. I remember reading an article in the late 70s where political correctness was spoken about for the first time. (I wish I had kept that newsclipping - some female New York journalist reporting from that hotbed of radicalism - University of California at Berkeley - my parents' alma mater, by the way.)

The language of the 70s was not all that refined and polished. It was often in-your-face and that was intentional. They wer
Oct 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sharp witted stroke of genius!
There cannot be a better way to present your argument and have it heard👌 enjoyed it very much. It was like stepping into a parallel universe where she managed to make me feel sorry for men or should I say menwom😂a feat that no one has been able to perform ever before. This book makes you angry, it opens your eyes to the injustices that are taken for granted as normal in the name of history, culture, religion, biology, and their perverted interpretations. Everyone m
Apr 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teenagers
My mom, a second-wave feminist, had this book laying around the house. I picked it up and had a lot of good laughs over it. Egalia's Daughters is set in a world where women hold the power. As such, many elements of the world that we take for granted are subverted here.

Women are called wim (wom for the individual), while men are called menwim (menwom for the individual). Men have to wear a kind of penis bra that holds their genitals up to make them seem more appealing to women. Men are expected
Leni Iversen
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
A satire where 1950s style gender roles are inverted. Everything is completely inverted, including every nuance of language. And the English translation is quite well done. Women are wom, men er menwym. Humans are huwyms. Men wear curlers in their beard and have to wear skirts because their anatomy just wouldn't fit into trousers. They also have to wear pehos to be decent in public. Hilariously funny and uncomfortably sad, this book tackles issues of parenthood, shame, sexual assault, and abuse. ...more
Dec 23, 2007 rated it liked it
What if there was a matriarch, men ate the Pill, wore pehos ("The boys said it was awkward and uncomfortable, cramming your penis into that stupid box. And it was so impractical when you had to pee.")
and dressed in tiny clothes designed to show off your body?
The book is not just an interesting - sometimes absolutely hilarious, sometimes tragic - role reversal, but is also a commentary on the supposed neutrality of language.
wom, wim: woman, women
manwom, manwim: man, men
mafele: male
fele: female
Nov 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I don't think I've fallen for a dystopia this hard since Brave New World. The novel is feminist without shame, which, incidentally, is how I might describe my own leanings.

It's hard to imagine a culture in which wom throws their blood rags in a parade for the Grand Menstruation Games, but Gerd Bratenberg creates a rounded-enough world in which it seems surprisingly plausible. Her plays on overtly patriarchal idioms and phrases are clever and hilarious. I'm sorely tempted to adopt the exclamation
In this world, Egalia, the gender roles have changed places. The women are the ideal sex. It is the women who are considered the first sex, the rulers, the ones defining sex, how men should dress to be attractive, and they expect men to serve and please them. The men are mocked, ridiculed, objectified and sexualized. It is extremely interesting to view men as the passive, beautiful sex, for a change.

Another interesting part in the book is the importance of menstruation. It is praised and there a
Mar 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
If you read this book, you will see what the world we live in looks like to me. With an unmatched effectiveness Gerd Brantenberg points out all of the obnoxious problems that women and men face because they can't seem to see outside their provincial world of traditional sex and gender roles. The author managed to get at all of the the sex issues that our society can't seem to cope with, let alone see.

Adults often tell young people, "You know, things aren't just black and white. There are shades
Aug 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gender reversal. You don't realize how 'oppressive' women's lifestyle is until you imagine a situation in which men and women's roles are reversed. Women (wim) rule society and men (menwim) stay home to take care of the household. It's also interesting to pay attention to the language: 'wim' dominate the language more so than 'menwim' do, just as 'men' appears more frequently in language than does 'women.' ...more
From reading the blurb, I thought I knew which situations would arise and how the text would handle each but I found I missed a lot. This book reminds you of all the things you've forgotten - the many and varied ways sex based oppression manifests and the real violence of female socialization. Worth a read even if it's a bit tedious at times.

I did find that some of the lines resonated poorly given the existence of MRAs though.
Aug 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was so impressed with this book. As far as I can tell, it managed to call out every major point of the feminist movement in this flip-flopped rendition of society where women (wim) have become the dominant sex and men (menwim) are the ornaments of society who's major role is to look pretty and beget/raise children. Menwim are told they are feeble-minded and weak (being short and obese is the beautify standard for men, those who are larger/stronger than wim are ostracized as "unmasculine", as a ...more
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a funny, occasionally warm, sometimes biting, and in places rather horrifying satire on gender. In the world of Egalia's Daughters absolutely everything gender-related (except the actual act of giving birth) is reversed: females are in charge of the government, hold most of the important jobs, and make all the decisions for the family, while males stay home, curl their beards, gossip and raise the children. The reversal extends even to language itself: females are wom (sing.) and wim (pl ...more
May 05, 2009 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stine Kristin
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
First of all this book is vastly entertaining, clever and funny. I don't really see how some claim this book would have been better as a short story, other than that they probably don't really care for social structure, society and gender differences in the first place. I quite liked how the first part of the book was all about presenting the matriarchy and society of the book, and the conscious awakening of Petronius, and the second part concentrates on the men's liberation group and how their ...more
Jun 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this book years ago, and it made a huge impression on me. It was funny, but thought provoking and very interesting. It's about a society where roles are reversed. Women ("wim") and the dominant forces, the workers and the leaders and the heads of the households. Men ("menwim") stay at home, care for the children, and curl their beards. I often looked for this book over the years, hoping to reread it, but I couldn't remember the title. I'm glad I found it again through a discussion on Good ...more
Peregrine 12
Dec 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Students of women's studies
I read this book for a Women's Studies course in college and it served its purpose well. Egalia's Daughters opened my eyes to a lot of things I wasn't consciously aware of before, for example: women's concerns about walking alone at night; the ridiculousness of pornography; the arbitrary comparisons of animals to humans just to prove a point (of *course* all males are ridiculous creatures! Just look at the rooster! Of *course* males are the natural caregivers! Just look at the seahorses!). ...more
Nicole Gallant
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: school-stuff
The satirical dialogue that Gerd Brantenberg elicits in her piece examines the upside down imaginings of gender roles reversed between females and males in an inverted world. Brantenberg illuminates how even in our progressive society sexism and gender inequalities are still very much alive and how these inequalities are so universally accepted that we do not even realize the injustice in such supposed norms.
Dec 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: humans who are either male or female
I read this book in my Gender & Language class at UCLA. I remember finding it hard to get into, but then I was's a fascinating twist on our society that makes you reevaluate some of your own preconceived notions about the sexes. It's enlightening and entertaining, if a bit sad, but well worth the effort. ...more
Aug 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: womens studies students
I read this book in college and it blew my mind. So much of what we understand to be "male" or "female" qualities can be manipulated by society. I had empathy for the second class status of the men in this novel. Highly recommend it for readers interested in gender constructs. ...more
Sep 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to C by: Craig McCaa
This is a somewhat disturbing but really interesting book. A sci-fi? fantasy? in which women have the power and sexism is a way of life for men. Thought-provoking.
Mar 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
My favorite book thus far. Switches the power dynamics of men and women in society. Very clever.
Aug 21, 2009 added it
According to my French diary from high school, this was very amusing, yet it has completely disappeared from my memory.
Anne Sofie
Jun 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Controversial, at least when it was released in Norway in the 70's. Well written, everything is carefully written and described, twisting our view of gender stereotypes. ...more
 Sophia B
Brilliant feminist fiction. Reveals the gender structures and language of society. Very imaginative. A must!
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Gerd Mjøen Brantenberg is a Norwegian author, teacher, and feminist writer. She is also the cousin of radio and TV entertainer Lars Mjøen.

Brantenberg was born in Oslo, but grew up in Fredrikstad. She studied English, History, and Sociology in London, Edinburgh, and Oslo. She has an English hovedfag (main subject, comparable to a Master), from the University of Oslo, where she also studied history

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