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I had been deeply moved by C. P. Gilman's chilling short story The yellow wallpaper before I decided to listen to this utopia. The book is a thought-provoking description of a society populated by women only. Women are the only moving force, being capable of parthenogenesis (the ability to reproduce without men). Having established a perfect social order, the women of Herland live a noble life using "a clear, far-reaching judgment, and a strong well-used will".
By the way, the story is narrated through a man's eyes, who relates the events as an 'impartial' observer.
C. P. Gilman brought up the issue of stereotypes that dominate society and questioned the notion of gender: What is equality? What is femininity? Is it "reflected masculinity"? What are gender expectations? And what should define gender roles? Being totally independent of men, had the women of Herland ceased to be women? Should we put an equals sign between 'motherhood' and 'maternity'?
Certainly, C. P. Gilman had an unequivocal answer to these questions, but it was revolutionary back when the novel was written, in 1915. She pitted masculinity against femininity and ridiculed hackneyed prejudices and sexism.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
This is a Feminist/Socialist Utopia where the act of sex has disappeared, but don’t let that make you think it is a total downer, this is also a really funny story. While the society is inherently simplified, and rather…well, sexist, it is also light hearted. The author has an agenda, but time tries to win people over with honey and not vinegar. Hopefully you at least smile at the antics of the American men, and the superiority of the mothers of Herland. The audiobook starts off with a 54 minute forward that puts the work in its social context, I enjoyed this, but you may decide to jump over it.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful