In Female Man, Joanna Russ creates four female protagonists all existing in different times, different worlds. So far we’ve met Janet Evason from Whileaway, a futurustic utopian society with an all-female population, and Jeannine Dadier, a librarian living in a world that never saw the end of the Great Depression. By reading the synopsis on the back of the book I learned of the other two main protagonists, Joanna, living in a world similar to the world in the 1970’s where feminism was first started to become big, and Jael, who “is a warrior with steel teeth and catlike retractable claws, from an earth with separate– and warring– female and male societies.”

I’m finding the changing perspectives in the part that we read for last Thursday to be pretty confusing, especially as the “I” remains unnamed for what I’ve read so far, though I believe the “I” may be Joanna. Which makes me wonder about the naming of the protagonists– is this fictional Joanna going to be a representation of how Joanna Russ sees herself? Also, with the way in which all of the main characters’ names begin with “J”, does Joanna Russ consider each to be a respresentation of some aspect or characteristics that she sees in herself, or maybe in all women? If so, she doesn’t seem to like her Jeannine-like characteristics to much.

The format and writing in the book in general are more troubling for me than any content of the book I’ve observed. I really find it quite unsavory, and feel that maybe Joanna Russ was concentrating to hard on what she wanted to say when she wrote The Female Man and how she wanted the themes to form. I don’t think she spent to much times worrying about the writing in the book. Or maybe she feels that eloquence is too feminine a characteristic to use in her novel. At least that would be an excuse.


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    Professor Sample says:

    I’d like to hear more about which aspects of the format and writing of the book you find troubling. What are some specific ways that Russ’s novel is unsavory or lacks eloquence?

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