Well Just Get Rid of Them Then

“Don’t you want men to return to Whileaway, Miss Evanson?”

“JE: Why?” (Russ, 10)

No Men Allowed!!!

Joanna Russ’s 1975 novel The Female Man explores alternate universes through the eyes of four women with the same DNA yet existing in different times.  Sound confusing?  You should try sorting through this novel with the shifting perspectives and points of view.  So let us try and sort through this together…  First there is Janet from the manless futuristic world called Whileaway.  Jennine who lives in a world in which the Great Depression was never corrected. Joanna who lives in a time most closely related to present time with a 70ish feel (at least it was present day when the book was written).  Finally, Jael who also lives in a future-like environment except everything seems to have gone all topsy turvy.

These phenomenons are explained in the novel as co-existing worlds created by fluctuating decisions which in turn spawned alternate universes that seem to occur simultaneously.  The novel describes it in this manner “Every displacement of every molecule, every change in orbit of every electron, every quantum of light that strikes here and not there – each of these must somewhere have its alternative.  It’s possible, too, that there is no such thing as one clear line or strand of probability, and that we live on a sort of twisted braid, blurring from one to the other without even knowing it…”(7).

I love the fact that one of the strands of reality eliminates all men and can find no valid use for them.  In all honesty, past and present day Feminists would be outraged at the idea of a patriarchally influenced text that even suggested the elimination of all women, even if it were for the betterment of society.  I truly believe that many of the female issues addressed are overly simplified and weighted heavily on the decisions of men.  True indeed, throughout history men have been the deciders, law makers, head of house hold, political everything, and so on and so fourth.  But in our present day (the real one) I find it valid and necessary to consider all contributing factors.  I am sure that there are quite a few men who understand the social complaints of women.  Just as there are quite a few Caucasian Americans that understand the social issues of African Americans.

My point being, although it may be fun to consider eliminating the oppressor, it does not eliminate the problem.  A utopian world with all women is hard for me to imagine because I have a sister.  Maybe that means I am bias, maybe it means I’m realistic; who knows?  This novel explores alternate realities based on alternate decisions.  An interesting alternate universe to consider would be one in which people listened to the concerns of one another, and treated others the way they want to be treated.  Hmmmm, imagine that.

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One Comment on “Well Just Get Rid of Them Then”

  1. First of all, I found your blog post very fascinating. I definitely agree with your statements regarding the true confusion that is at the core of the story, especially when you consider all the different possibly timelines that may exist in our universe. Throughout all of history, there have been many instances when governments, individuals, groups, etc, have been at a type of crossroads, where they have had to make a choice. With the choice that is made, there are numerous possibilities for other paths that would have been created by the other choices that we left behind in the dust. If an individual tries to grasp the significance of there being endless alternate timelines that can simultaneously exist in one universe (or is there only one universe?), then there head will definitely hurt from the circles their thoughts will be running. Russ’ novel truly brings into the perspective the potential true size of the universe, which appears to have a distance that is endless. In terms of time, distance, size, and alternate universes resulted from all the possible choices in every situation, the universe’s massive scope can be overwhelming for us to understand. Russ’ novel and its confusing perspective and section changes show us the confusion that would result if an individual tried to understand all the possible timelines that may exist.

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