Feminism in Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and When It Changed by Joanna Russ

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Feminism in Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and When It Changed by Joanna Russ During the long history of science fiction, one of the most common themes is the utopia. Many feminists used utopia to convey their ideas. Two of these stories, Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and "When It Changed" by Joanna Russ portray feminist utopias in different ways. Herland shows a society lacking men, and makes this seem positive, while "When It Changed" shows an all-female society that mirrors a world with men. Through their respective stories, the authors are saying that women should be considered equal to men. Gilman points out that women should be accepted because they can survive on their own, while Russ suggests that women can be as…show more content…
Janet mentions the three duels that she has fought several times (Russ 946). In the reader’s mind, dueling and fighting are activities usually reserved for men. The environment of Whileaway is a very harsh one, and consequently the women that live there have to be much stronger and self-sufficient. In this story, Russ uses Katy and Janet to say that women are fundamentally equal to men. The world created in Herland is intended to appear flawless and unattainable, but seems more like fantasy than science fiction. For instance, scientific explanations are not always available to describe the events that lead to the state of the society. When compared to Herland, Russ’s story has many more elements of science fiction, in that the society is explained in a scientific manner. Conversely, Herland is more of a utopia than Whileaway, in that Whileaway does not appear superior to the current world. By definition a utopia is written to suggest improvements to society, and the world of Whileaway has no visible improvements. One interesting difference between the two societies is the manner in which the children are brought up. In the Gilman story, the children are raised by the community. In some cases, a child will be taken from its mother and put under the care of a "more capable" woman (Gilman 71). The entire society of Herland is based on motherhood, so the children

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