Feminist Gender Roles In Joanna Russ's The Female Man

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Science fiction is “a fiction of the imagination rather than observed reality” (Roberts, 2006, p. 1). It is a genre which enables readers to envisage and express new ideas of the workings of our society. According to Lefanu (1988), science fiction can be used “metaphorically and metonymically as powerful ways of exploring the construction of woman” (p. 180). Hence, I believe that portraying and imagining a new society through a feminist lens can be especially formidable. Feminist science fiction predominantly addresses the female gender role in society, exploring the construction of social gender roles. It extrapolates and addresses the issues that women face in the present world (Donawerth, 1997, p. 112). This can be illustrated through a…show more content…
The novel revolves around four different women: Janet, Jeannine, Joanna and Jael and their individual sufferings in dealing with men. It was written amid the second wave feminism with the intention to point out how malignant male behavior towards women is. Women in the novel want to free themselves from traditional social gender roles and grapple with the perception that they cannot be the females that society wants them to be. Janet is from Whileaway, an all female society in the future. In contrast, Jeannie is entirely locked and conformed to traditional gender roles during the Great Depression. As an active feminist from the 70’s, Joanna seems to represent the author herself. The last character Jael is from a dystopia world where men and woman are in a continual battle. When the four characters meet, they exchange different perceptions on gender roles and change one another’s pre-existing views on womanhood. Jeannine and Joanna help Jael to bring women soldiers into their worlds to fight men but Janet refuses to. In the end, they went back to their own worlds to reflect on their lives and their identity as a…show more content…
80). This corresponds to Wittig’s (1986) opinion as he feels that one needs to understand that “men are not born with a faculty for the universal and that women are not reduced at birth to the particular. The universal has been and is continually at every moment, appropriated by men” (p. 66). Since patriarchies always position themselves from the male point of view, the female culture is often submersed and feminine traits are culturally held to be inferior as a
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