Monday, October 17, 2011

Generic Man & Wo-Man: essentialisms

Tuesday 18 Oct – What is a Female Man?
• Read all of Russ, The Female Man
• We will reflect on FemCritiCon with an eye to The Female Man's connection to our projects
• Filling out evaluation sheets for FemCritiCon
We come to Russ’ book with a sense already of its stature in SF feminisms. What does the book say that is surprising? What is difficult about this book now? What do you imagine was difficult about this book in the mid seventies? What is the important thing about this book as you see it?

Thursday 20 Oct – The Female Man, continued….

• Read everything about this book you can find on the Web. Bring stuff in to share.
• We will create class groups for Whileaway worldings with attention to intertextual bundles
Why is this book such a icon for SF feminisms? Why should we care about it? What other books does it open doors to? How do you know? 


Generic Masculine
Gender Neutral Language 
Quaker use of Female Man  
Essentialism & Non-essentialism 

How do you apprehend something as wrong? How do you work it out and understand it? How do you think about it? How do you share your concern with others? How do you talk about it and act?

utopia  -- the "good place"
dystopia  -- the "bad place"

prescriptive visions  
on not being "innocent" -- otherings: projection othering, honoring otherness

Where does Whileaway figure in all this? 

from the Wikipedia:

"Feminist Utopias 

"Another important subgenre is feminist utopias and the overlapping category of feminist science fiction. Writer Sally Miller Gearhart calls this sort of fiction political: it contrasts the present world with an idealized society, criticizes contemporary values and conditions, sees men or masculine systems as the major cause of social and political problems (e.g. war), and presents women as equal to or superior to men, having ownership over their reproductive functions.[citation needed] A common solution to gender oppression or social ills in feminist utopian fiction is to remove men, either showing isolated all-female societies as in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland, or societies where men have died out or been replaced, as in Joanna Russ's A Few Things I Know About Whileaway, where "the poisonous binary gender" has died off. Marge Piercy's novel Woman on the Edge of Time keeps human biology, but removes pregnancy and childbirth from the gender equation by resorting to artificial wombs, while allowing both women and men the nurturing experience of breastfeeding.

"Utopias have explored the ramification of gender being either a societal construct or a hard-wired imperative.[2] In Mary Gentle's Golden Witchbreed, gender is not chosen until maturity, and gender has no bearing on social roles. In contrast, Doris Lessing's The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five (1980) suggests that men's and women's values are inherent to the sexes and cannot be changed, making a compromise between them essential. In My Own Utopia (1961) by Elizabeth Mann Borghese, gender exists but is dependent upon age rather than sex — genderless children mature into women, some of whom eventually become men.[2]

"Utopic single-gender worlds or single-sex societies have long been one of the primary ways to explore implications of gender and gender-differences.[3] In speculative fiction, female-only worlds have been imagined to come about by the action of disease that wipes out men, along with the development of technological or mystical method that allow female parthenogenic reproduction. The resulting society is often shown to be utopian by feminist writers. Many influential feminist utopias of this sort were written in the 1970s;[3][4][5] the most often studied examples include Joanna Russ's The Female Man, Suzy McKee Charnas's Walk to the End of the World and Motherlines, and Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time.[5] Utopias imagined by male authors have generally included equality between sexes, rather than separation.[6] Such worlds have been portrayed most often by lesbian or feminist authors; their use of female-only worlds allows the exploration of female independence and freedom from patriarchy. The societies may not necessarily be lesbian, or sexual at all — Herland (1915) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a famous early example of a sexless society.[4] Charlene Ball writes in Women's Studies Encyclopedia that use of speculative fiction to explore gender roles has been more common in the United States than in Europe and elsewhere.[2]"

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