[Reading] ➬ Herland ➳ Charlotte Perkins Gilman – Multi-channel.co

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10 thoughts on “Herland

  1. says:

    I clearly did not get the memo on this one I thought Herland probably had such a low average rating on Goodreads because it was dated which it is, obnoxiously so but I didn t realize what a hate filled piece of propaganda this book really is.It came up again when I recently reviewed The Cerulean, a book about an all female society People have been mentioning this book to me for years A secret society of women have created the perfect utopia by killing off the remaining few male survivors of a volcanic eruption and oh my actually doing things for themselves Killing off all men does feel like a dated kind of feminism but, okay, I ll bite It s entirely possible I would have wanted to kill off the men, too, if I had been alive in 1915.Yeah, but it s not just the men It s the mentally ill and disabled It s anyone who doesn t fit into their idea of perfect It is at least it seems any woman who isn t white This is not me reading things into it The women of this society are very open about their negative eugenics There followed a period of negative eugenics which must have been an appalling sacrifice We are commonly willing to lay down our lives for our country, but they had to forego motherhood for their country and it was precisely the hardest thing for them to do It s one thing, I think, for oppressed women to imagine a society where their oppressors don t exist It s quite another to imagine breeding a race of perfect humans who are white, female, able bodied, and neurotypical.But even allowing for these attitudes that seem abhorrent today, it s a very basic and poorly written story I don t think it was meant to be farcical but some moments definitely seem like it, such as when the three men wander into Herland in the beginning and are yelling Girls whispered Jeff, under his breath, as if they might fly if he spoke aloud Peaches added Terry, scarcely louder Peacherinos apricot nectarines Whew These men toddle around, scratching their heads, and saying ridiculously twee things The men are so obviously and overly condescending in parts of the book just so the women can correct them on it and explain why their notions of gender are stupid But it all just doesn t seem that feminist today Is it feminist to imagine a perfect all female society where the women have been bred to be stronger and smarter than men Isn t the underlying implication that women as they are are not good enough And the pregnancy All these women care about is pregnancy and motherhood The ultimate goal is to have children It seems that even in a feminist utopia, women are still tied to their biological role Abortion is unthinkable, of course Destroy the unborn she said in a hard whisper Do men do that in your country There are a couple of interesting ideas about education and not force feeding kids the Montessori methods are viewed highly I liked the discussion about not naming children after yourself as it suggests a form of ownership, which is also clearly a critique of women taking a man s name in marriage But I m scrambling around for a couple of good things to say about it Overall, not a good experience for me.Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube

  2. says:

    Three stars Five stars as a period piece, one as a work of literature.Mine is the 1979 edition whose preface claims it is still relevant Perhaps that, too, is an indication of a past phase of feminism, because the story has really not aged very well.The writing is awful Sorry I know that it was originally serialized in Gilman s magazine, which might account for the shallow, unpolished quality of it, but it makes for tiresome reading in novella form.I hesitate to criticize Herland too much because Gilman was so obviously a product of her time and social class that it s almost impossible to evaluate her in modern terms The work is clearly a reaction against extreme male domination of society and is absurd if it is divorced from its original context It seems as if the best testament to just how limited women were in 1915 is the painfully restricted scope of what even an ardent feminist could envision for her gender I was struck in particular by the apparent inability to develop much technology, and the narrator s statement that Herland had been unable to generate much of a science of geology I m sure my mother, who did graduate work in crystal physics, would find that darkly amusing It seems that even radical women saw the talents of their sex as primarily organic and not scientific or mathematical.What strikes me most in this novel is that Gilman managed to depict women in a way that was revolutionary and yet still to stereotype them The robotic, heterogeneous inhabitants of Herland all of them beautiful, athletic, rational, and wise seem nearly as objectified as the shrinking violet heroines produced by contemporary male authors.

  3. says:

    i feel like, as a lady, i should like this i thought it was okay i liked some of the gentle satire poked at recontextualizing the things we take for granted about our society, which is supposed to make us laugh and blush but i think i would go mad here its a little too wide eyed stepford wives y for me and in a land without men, who would i get to boss around i just dont think this has aged well, overall, and im not sure why i was under the impression that it was some seminal work that i had to read during my summer of overlooked classics.

  4. says:

    This is considered utopian literature If you look for a list of utopian literature here on Goodreads you will find it lumped together with dystopian literature, which is odd because they mean exactly the opposite Herland is distinctly utopian Merriam Webster says utopia is an imaginary and indefinitely remote place That defines Herland perfectly It is also considered feminist literature, and that fits Perkins perfectly because she was a feminist first and foremost.Herland is the unusual story of three young men who stumble upon an isolated and almost inaccessible society of female only inhabitants They have survived as such for centuries How is that possible, you ask Well, you will have to read the novel for that Suffice it to say they get along fine without men, and they have created a society much agreeable and balanced than the outside world of the three young men 3.5 stars

  5. says:

    4.5 starsGilman is savage I love it.

  6. says:

    So usually when I read a book, I give myself over to the story and the writing as much as possible As problematic as the author might be, I try to enjoy the story regardless, because a problematic person or a bad person can still tell a good story While I actively try to avoid authors whom I consider problematic like H.P Lovecraft, for instance I still do definitely engage with authors and books who I wouldn t like as people like Hunter S Thompson and enjoy their books I don t often read problematic authors because their books, characters and stories take energy for me to do so having to constantly separate the author from the work takes time and I don t always have that time, however, I do believe it is important that I continue to expose myself to things that might make me uncomfortable that I can enjoy regardless of those aspects Through therapy, I ve learnt that avoiding things that make me anxious only serves to give it strength, and so every once and a while I read a book with a confronting rape scene, or by an author who is homophobic, or a book with few female characters If an author is problematic or I don t like the book, I also just put it down because I do not have time to be reading bad books with bad representation if I don t want to, no shame involved.SO, now you know where I come from and how I read, let s get into the review Just a heads up, this will contain general mild spoilers about the plot but I have a good reason for it, so I was curious about Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman I d read her infamous short story The Yellow Wallpaper which she d written while suffering a very serious episode of post partum depression, and it thrilled me and chilled me and commanded my attention in a way I d rarely felt with a piece that s so antiquated The Yellow Wallpaper felt readable, modern and a chilling piece of motherhood, womanhood and individual autonomy Then I read some of the reviews for Herland and most people said It was good, but pretty dry or, I wish I d heard from the female characters and not just the male characters and other such things, so I adjusted my expectations I expected it to probably be a 3 star read and picked it up for free on Serial reader, which is an app that allows you to read classics in daily chunks of reading time At first, I found it readable and found myself sometimes giggling at these three explorers finding their way into Herland, discussing what they might expect, knowing these three men were wrong After that, it did get a little dry and repetitive It s written almost in a diary format and retrospectively, so nothing ever happens in the moment and a lot of it is described, which makes it almost anti climatic These men, a biologist or scientist of sorts, a social scientist and Terry, the ever present, stubborn chauvinistic pig who acts as the antagonist and the fool who paid the bill for the excursion were guests of Herland and as such, really could not explore the land in the way that I wanted them to, but I digress.I learnt about Herland s lore and felt that it was pretty fitting for the time I had an inkling all the women in Herland were white, although they were described as browner than we are from the main narrator from all their outdoor activity Stubbornly, I imagined a cast of women of colour, First Nations women, Asian women and , because my feminism is all inclusive and there was nothing stopping me from doing so.In Herland, the women give birth almost by spontaneous conception, through the air, and many of them have five children Being pregnant and having children is considered one of the highest honours in Herland, because what is better than girls I have to admit, I thought there would be nothing terrifying Five children Is that all at once, or can I delay it So I have five children under five Jesus Pregnancy is an emotionally, physically taxing experience and I fully believe that women deserve to be as supported as much as possible before, during and after their pregnancy Pregnancies are no game, and yet here were women in Herland, having children and providing for each other and enjoying pregnancy as the sacred rite that it was to them I wondered, if I d grown up in that environment, how would I view pregnancy compared my own biases now And then, when I was reading a book for research for a novel I m writing, I came across a sentence that made me sit back in my chair and swear out loud This sentence is in Michael Bronski s A Queer History of the United States I don t remember specifically which page, I read the chapters out of order I m paraphrasing but also, please note, any slurs used are Gilman s and not my own Charlotte Perkins Gilman believed that the Jews had never gotten past the tribal stage , that Orientals were predisposed to crime and Negroes were only suited to hard labour because of their general lack of intellect Holy fucking shit Okay, first of all, what the fuck is the tribal stage ORIENTALS Hard labour I think you misspelled slave labour I was so angry with Gilman How dare she pull shit like this Where did this even come from So, after processing it, I started looking it up There were a few articles and research papers that said that while Gilman was a staunch believer in women s rights, she was also a totally racist person Even compelling, she often advocated for anti racist legislation she advocated FOR interracial marriage, worker s rights and so on But she believed in eugenics She believed in social Darwinism She believed in separate but equal.And thus I came to the realisation that Charlotte Perkins Gilman was not just a feminist she was the worst kind of a feminist She was a white feminist.Contradictory, harmful and silencing She advocated for individuals while maintaining the supremacist structures that kept them oppressed She did not see women of colour as women She did not see people of colour as human I thought about DNF ing Herland, because, as I said, my feminism is all inclusive and sex positive If you re trans or intersex or non binary and you identify as a woman, I will support you If you are First Nations and you come from a matriarchal or matrilineal society, I feel that feminism has a lot to learn from you Although it is not necessarily your job to teach us If you are a woman of colour I will do all that I can to use my privilege to lift you up and support you.And then I decided not to put it down and instead, do a critical reading of the book And holy fucking Jesus, this is like a white feminist eugenics fantasy The obsession with motherhood, with pregnancy is all about breeding out undesirable traits Herland is a place with few illnesses, no criminal activity whatsoever, fewer vices and, from what I can tell, no mental illness Here, the narrator addresses how the citizens of Herland go about doing this If the girl showing bad qualities had still the power to appreciate social duty, we appealed to her, by that, to renounce motherhood Some of the few worst types were, fortunately, unable to reproduce But if the fault was in the disproportionate egotism then the girl was sure she had the right to have children, even that hers would be better than ours What happens is either the child isn t born at all, or it is taken away from the parent and the parent is not allowed to raise it, it seems The book took on an eerie haze after that, and the last few chapters I really struggled to get through Charlotte Perkins Gilman has created an utopia where women of colour are completely absent She equates them to criminals, and so, in her world, they have been bred out, and as a result, crime has too As I was reading, I thought, imagine not being able to have children and reading a book like this where the worst of the worst are asked not to have children, and the greatest joy in the world, in fact, the only purpose you have in life is to have them How emotionally exhausting would that be The author goes on and on about how the women of Herland have fully awakened to their true selves, their mothering selves, and that they have taken great pains to remodel and improve the whole state Gilman goes on at length about the education of the children and the babies and how they have perfected, over a thousand years, to educate their children in the most perfect way It s bland, and it looks harmless, but really, it s frightening What s scary is not the text itself, but everything in its absence In Herland, everyone is white, everyone is fertile and everyone is able bodied I m rambling now, but this whole thing seems to be a nightmare to me.Fuck you and your white, exclusionary feminism, Charlotte Perkins Gilman And take your eugenics and your social Darwinism and your phrenology and your pseudo science and racist justifications with you.You re cancelled.

  7. says:

    Written in 1915 and serialised in her paper, this is a fairly funny description of three men landing in a country where there are only women a land of cooperation, peace, prosperity, wisdom and achievement The humour lies in the misconceptions of the men as to women s capacities, and their constant bumping against all of the horrible poverty and injustices in the world that they take for granted It s quite a fascinating glimpse into the period, and there is much to love about a feminist socialist utopian novel like this Of course, it is hell of racist, dismissing all of the South American savages out of hand It envisions that desire and sex would die away completely in a society without men not quite homophobic I don t think, just rather painfully ignorant innocent Worth reading for all of its contradictions, especially as it s a quick mostly enjoyable read with only a few cringeworthy moments that are the kind we do well to remember are part of feminist history and sadly some of its present.

  8. says:

    I m not going to rate this book for its entertainment factor, because I don t think that was Gilman s main purpose and it wasn t that entertaining anyway I found so many things fascinating about Herland My notes I was interested to see that Gilman was trapped in masculine culture and language than we are today we re making progress, good For example, it seemed to be a compliment to her to describe the women of Herland as being like boys does that show her opinion or the limited ways to praise 104 Men like women are above normal women 37 Is being neuter 115 Gilman s solution But then again, what is normal When describing the men s opinions of women, Gilman perhaps purposely leaves out the opinion of the narrator is that so she won t lose the reader s trust for him The narrator does slip in the idea that femininity is simply a way to please men instead of a natural characteristic 77.Gilman writes during the history of Herland that Nothing but earthquakes could destroy such architecture huge solid blocks, holding by their own weight They must have had efficient workmen and enough of them in those days 73 Is that her own bias slipping in, or is that an artful way to show the narrator s true bias Gilman does a fine job of making her narrator male, writing things like, We talk fine things about women, but in our hearts we know that they are very limited beings most of them We honor them for their functional powers, even while we dishonor them by our use of it we honor them for their carefully enforced virtue, even while we show by our own conduct how little we think of that virtue we value them, sincerely, for the perverted maternal activities which make our wives the most comfortable of servants, bound to us for life with the wages wholly at our own decision, their whole business, outside of the temporary duties of such motherhood as they may achieve, to meet our needs in every way 156 Also, All their wide mutual love, all the subtle interplay of mutual friendship and service, the urge of progressive thought and invention, the deepest religious emotion, every feeling and every act was related to this great central Power, to the River of Life pouring through them, which made them the bearers of the very Spirit of God 155 Also, What is this miracle by which a woman, even in your arms, may withdraw herself, utterly disappear till what you hold is as inaccessible as the face of a cliff 153 I also found it interesting to see that Gilman s style of feminism included a cherishing of motherhood that quite left out any man whatsoever Even in a culture without men, Gilman can t let go of women as mothers 78 Herland women claim that a group of mothers instinctively knows what s best for everyone, especially children 121 The relationship between men and women is described as coming home to mother It was a sense of getting home of being clean and rested of safety and yet freedom of love that was always there, warm like sunshine in May, not hot like a stove or a featherbed a love that didn t irritate and smother 156 Yikes Wrong kind of love, Gilman I do like, however, that the men are also looked at in terms of parenthood, and that working is considered everyone s job Men are treated as the male cats pets, kept under surveillance 72 I didn t get the weird claim that most dogs are males and women don t really like dogs Heh 70.We always think that feminists must also be enlightened in other ways, but perhaps not White is superior 72 Racism of Gilman s time I disagree that men seek only for what we euphoniously term the joys of love 152 and the implication that only men seek those joys Herland s religion doing things from past generations, not for them, not revealed, unchanging religion Not needing to live forever because life goes on in children Cafeteria style choosing what they wanted, no respect for the past 127 No ordinances exist here, like marriage though the reason for the lack of that one is obvious The folly of the notion that if life was smooth and happy, people would not enjoy it 121 is kind of a good wake up call.Women are portrayed as emotionally strong, and yet Ellador runs away very upset upon hearing about abortion I like that she can show her feelings, but I don t feel like Ellador lives up to the masculine, emotionless state that Gilman has described.To Herland women, stay at home moms are imprisoned Gilman must think that But she suggests that women should reproduce without men 85 and also leaves no suggestion as to how to reach ideals such as education 82 Unless, of course, her suggestion is to completely eliminate men.I really wish Gilman had written a sequel of what happened once they got out of Herland and how soon it was before Ellador went RUNNING back.

  9. says:

    After a lot of thought, I ve decided to give this book five stars No, this is not a gripping read, nor will most of the characters stick in your mind for years to come But this is probably the best feminist book I ve ever read, not to mention the most approachable Besides it s page length of 144 pages, it s approachable in it s text It takes a naturalistic approach in it s content, rather than relying on romanticism so it is very diplomatic and practical It attacks concepts instilled in women by a male driven society, which I think is very favorable alternative to a male reader since it absolutely does not attack or belittle men on an individual basis In fact the characters in this entirely female society are incredibly open to the three men that come into their town, and treat them as equals even though they don t add anything at all to their society.That being said, this book is delightfully savage when it comes to quotes It was written in 1915 and I daresay that it describes our society almost better than feminist books do a hundred years later Virginity, submissiveness, rape, nonworking women are all things women in Herland have never experienced in their women powered society all of the babies are born out of immaculate conception, so there are no men there at all So when these topics are brought up by the men from America, these women question them with genuine curiosity and openness And its hilarious to see the men turn red and dodge questions that they can t seem to answer because I swear, if you asked a man today you d get the same flustered answers Overall this book explores the concept of feminism in a very timid yet complete way You don t feel like ideas are slammed down your throat at all, nor do you feel like hating men I highly recommend this book to any woman because, even if we are feminists, living in a male driven society can be discouraging So while we talk about how we can be strong if given the chance, there s always that doubt in the back of our minds This book SHOWS us how women can be strong and exactly what a society would look like if it were run by women And trust me, the women are badass from beginning to end.

  10. says:

    Being as this is feminist literature, and I also consider myself a feminist, I feel like I should have enjoyed this than I did I m going to come right out with the main criticism that I have for this book I think there was way too much time spent focusing on the three male s that visited Herland, and their actual opinions of the women they found there Also, the women have apparently been reproducing with thin air, having babies with a lack of men I suppose I just found it bizarre.Apparently this is the very first feminist utopian novel that has ever been written, and Gilman spends a lot of time discussing women, the ill treatments of women etc. It does make good discussion material and was rather thought provoking I think essentially, I just expected from this.