Gender Equality and Identity
Throughout the story, women continually defy the established gender constructions of both the historical and contemporary United States of America society. Moreover, the author addresses numerous issues that relate to the identity of women such as motherhood, education, power, sexuality, and linguistics (Gilman). The society in the book is an adversely utopic illustration that uses a purely feminist approach to challenge the norms of the society. In spite of the cultural stereotypes that are prevalent in the story, it is evident that Herland is a powerful and relevant model of feminist thoughts and the identity of women in the society. Moreover, in this masterpiece, Gilman reveals that the society she lives in is unjust to women and does not allow them to achieve their full potential as human beings (Clemons).
This is confirmed by how women challenge the ideologies of men about gender roles and perspectives. Zava openly challenges Terry when they are talking about dogs, she asks, “Is it men or the women who love this animal so much?” (Gilman 322). She goes further to prove that men have not been effective in their role of rearing dogs because they are not as neat as cats, which are kept by women. Although men love dogs so much, they keep the animal chained and shut up unlike women who let the cat free with “…large grounds to run in” (Gilman 322). In the arguments, the author represents women as intelligent, strong, and self-reliant. Terry goes further to underscore the dominance of men in the society when he asserts that “…men do everything…we do not allow our women to work.
Women are loved — idolized — honored — kept in the home to care for the children” (Gilman 329). This is a hallmark of the identity differences between the American men and the women in Herland society. The three men in the story encounter a society that they had never confronted in the world outside. Clearly, Terry is the main motivating force that brings a male presence in the feminist utopia of Herland. It is a society that thrives beyond gender restrictions, because there is no gender since all populaces are women. These women “…had been reared in the atmosphere of such heroic struggle that the stock must have been toughened somewhat” (Gilman 325). Evidently, the language employed by the male characters reveal the patriarchal expressions of the American society against the un-gendered society in Herland.
The lifestyle in Herland was not shaped by the sex, sexuality, and gender differences. Moreover, the language lacked any form of gender identification or constructions. Conclusion In Herland, the utopic world dominated by women challenges Gilman’s society that suppressed women and did not allow them to achieve their full potential. While the story is presented as a naive fairytale, it reveals the power of women if they are given the capacity to explore and achieve their potential. Many women are confined in the domestic spheres, as confirmed by chauvinistic males such as Terry. However, we can clearly see and understand that women should be treated as equals with men and their identity should not be based on gender biases. Works Cited Clemons, Tammy.
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