Category: Feminism

Gerd Brantenberg: Egalias døtre (UK: The Daughters of Egalia ; US: Egalia’s Daughters)

The latest addition to my website is Gerd Brantenberg‘s Egalias døtre (UK: The Daughters of Egalia; US: Egalia’s Daughters). This novel is set in Egalia, a fictitious country which does not seem to resemble (as regards its geography and history) any country I know of. The key issue is that the traditional roles and stereotypes of male and female are completely reversed. Those men lucky enough to get a wife stay at home looking after the children and the house, while all the important work is done by woman, with unmarried men only doing unskilled labouring jobs. Men take their wife’s surname. When not looking after the children, men try to make themselves look beautiful for their wife. They wear blouses, skirts, and dresses, carry fancy handbags and also wear a peho (= penis holder), a fancy codpiece that draws attention to the genitals and is presumably the male equivalent in this book of the bra. In this society women are called wom (plural: wim) and men menwom (plural: menwim). Female is fele, while male is mafele. There are other similar changes.

We follow the story of Ruth Bram, who has an important, well-paid job, her husband (called housebound) Christopher and their children Petronius and Ba. After a third child is born Christopher is castrated. Petronius, aged sixteen, with a few friends and his unmarried male teacher, start a masculist movement , i.e. the equivalent of a feminist movement, for male liberation, to the disgust of his mother.

Whie Brantenberg makes some sensible and serious points about the respective role of the sexes, some of the book is quite amusing from womo sapiens to Ruth giving birth publicly , from Bloody Maurice forBloody Mary to men foolishly spending all their time gossiping, but it all shows how sexist we are.

Fiona Snyckers: Lacuna

The latest addition to my website is Fiona SnyckersLacuna. J M Coetzee‘s Booker Prize-winning novel Disgrace was controversial, particularly for the scene where Lucy Lurie is raped by three black men. The book was criticised for being racist, showing black men as violent, but also for sexism as Lucy is seen as passive, refusing to divulge the names of her assailants and keeping the resultant child. This book is a feminist response to Coetzee and his novel. It is told by Lucy, who is shown as a real person and a former (very junior) colleague of Coetzee when he was a university professor. It is a complex novel, discussing the issues of victim shaming, the right to appropriate the stories of others, including those still living, the link between literature and real life, the twists and turns of the legal system and how South Africa is and is not adapting to the post-apartheid era. It also tells a very good story and offers an effective challenge to Coetzee’s novel. Snyckers does an excellent job in challenging Coetzee and his point of view.

Petra Hůlová: Stručné dějiny Hnutí (The Movement)

The latest addition to my website is Petra Hůlová‘s Stručné dějiny Hnutí (The Movement). This is a feminist dystopian novel. In this New World, men are sent to a institute – in some cases voluntarily but often at the instigation of their spouses or even simply snatched from the streets, where they are retrained – often fairly harshly – to think of women as people and not as bodies. The training includes masturbating to pictures of ugly older woman and having sex with them. The story is told by Věra, a guard at one of the institutes who seems a lot of her time looking at and handling penises. Once she gets away from the city on a tour, she finds it is women rather than men who are of the most resistant. The book seemed as much a manifesto against men’s view of women as a novel but Hůlová makes her point about the objectification of women and excess pornography.

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