374 – Chapter 9 – Herland


Mother, knitter, spinner, writer, wife, weaver, host...not necessarily in that order...

4 Responses

  1. Gretchen says:

    I finally listened to the Chapter 9 episode and felt compelled to comment, not so much on the book, but rather reacting to Harriet’s comments, and really, yours Heather, following hers. I found myself actually talking back to you in the car as I listened. Here are the bits that riled me– comparing Herland to a similar novel where the roles were reversed and using the frat-house comparison and calling it more of a “rape story.” I think these comments are missing the point of the comparison, and frankly, sound as if they might have been made by female Terrys.

    If the book characters were reversed as suggested first by Harriet, would we not have to assume they also went through over 2000 years of evolution? That the Himland characters would also be curious, sensitive, patient, respectful and all the other attributes of the female counterparts? And even if they evolved the “male” attributes, would they have not learned to co-exist without resorting to stereotypical male aggressiveness and dominance over all things? After all, this is a Utopia story. It seems to me that a man writing this same story and hoping for readers to see with new eyes their capabilities and abilities would aim for the same type of society.

    I love that Perkins Gilman’s novel can reveal our own knee-jerk responses to what males or females of our species are like and are capable of. I love that I had to think about why I reacted so strongly to Harriet’s and Heather’s responses. I love that we are all capable of recognizing our own foibles as humans. Maybe the message of the book in this century, in this society, is more about grasping the similarities and celebrating the differences among all of us. I don’t know. But like the children in Herland, I am enjoying the learning!

  2. Chela says:

    Hi, Heather-

    I wanted to take a minute to give my thoughts on what Harriet said in regards to the men being captive, and asking what the opinion might be if three women were held captive by a country of all men. In my opinion, I do not think that is the right comparison to make. If this were a book of three explorers who showed up uninvited in a previously undiscovered country of bi-gendered, or an alien species for a more sci-fi bent, would we be shocked or dismayed that they were held captive for so long? Or would most readers consider it natural that they would be confined to ensure they posed no threat to the rest of citizenry? Would it not also be considered somewhat natural that they should be prevented from leaving to ensure they didn’t bring more of their kind, quite uninvited? So, I actually consider it logical that the men are kept separate from the greater population for so long, and are prevented from leaving the country, at least for the time being. (I think it is actually also probably one of the more standard elements for this kind of explorer tale at this time period, although I admit I may be misremembering that.) Terry’s crankiness is perhaps more understandable in that context, certainly, but I suspect if the women were more “womanly” as he means it, he would be less in a hurry to leave.

    I also wanted to comment on something mentioned way back in the second episode for this book – the women getting ill when the men explained the dairy industry. I believe Van mentions including the meat industry in his explanation, and I think that is what made the women ill, and one of the contributing factors for ethical vegans (as opposed to those health inclined) to avoid all milk-based products–to whit, veal. Baby cows (males calves most often, but probably some female calves, too, depending on what the farm needs) are taken away so someone else can benefit from its mother’s milk and then *killed* for consumption. In a nation of mothers, that, I would imagine, would be a reason to turn quite quite green.

    Love the podcast as ever!

    • Heather says:

      You have No Idea the flurry of emails and messages that came out as soon as this episode aired. (I had a feeling…) And your comment here is in much the same vein. Thank you! It’s yet another reason why I love CraftLit people.

      And yes yes yes – I know haven’t eaten veal since I learned about the process (and how the calves are kept to keep the meat “tender”) as it was just too much for my… 15 year old? self to handle. I know everyone makes choices for themselves on these issues, and those choices are SO personal and thus impossible or unfair to judge, but the reactions of the women does throw Gilman’s point into sharp relief.

      I think this is going to be a topic over the next week.

      (And hey! Good to see you here! It’s been awhile since I saw you.)