Feminism In Joanna Russ's The Female Man

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In the novel The Female Man, by Joanna Russ the theme of womens subordination to men differs by character. This book was written in the 1970s, which was when the wave of feminism began and was at its height, therefore each of the characters is representative of the type of women during that time period. The symbols and structure throughout the novel also pertain to the issue of womens subjugation. Joanna Russ makes a bold statement of how feminism is extremely necessary to allow women to have equal opportunity in a patriarchal society. The first the character of the book is Jeannine; she is a librarian who lives in the society of American in 1969 that never got out of the great depression. Jeannine is a motif of the type of women in 1970 who…show more content…
“Boys don’t like smart girls. “Boys don’t like aggressive girls. Unless they want to sit in the girls lap that is” (Russ 67) depicts how Jeannine believes that she must change herself to fufill the role of the perfect wife. However, she is also very judgmental of men, by not wanting to marry her boyfriend Cal, because he was inferior to the alpha male standard in culture, and thus, society telling her that he was not good enough. “Somewhere is the one. The solution. Fulfillment. Fulfilled women. Filled full. My Prince. Come. Come away, death. She stumbles into her mommy’s shoes, little girl playing house” (Russ 125), this is an allusion to the mold that humanity has created for Jeannine ever since she was a little girl, believing that she can only attain happiness and worth by marrying a man. With this, Cal did not satisfy this role in Jeannine’s eyes. “I wouldn’t be a man for a anything…..I like being admired. I like being a girl” (Russ 85) this is another example of how she has accepted her gender role as house maid, and cook she is content with being subordinate to men. At the start of the novel, she is disgusted when she finds out that Laura and Janet…show more content…
However, they are all confused since they all have very different personalities and do not all look the same. Jael then explains to them that they are genetically the same, since they are all from diff. She has brought them to her world “for reasons partly personal and partly political” (Russ 160). Most importantly however, to tell them that they must bring a wave of feminism back to their respective worlds because her world is a prime example of what could happen is women are continuously oppressed. Each of the J’s have their own physical characteristics that are linked to their personality. The first is Jeannine “smooth face, tall, thin, sedentary, round shouldered, a long limbed body made of clay and puddy : she is always tired and has trouble waking up in the morning” (Russ 162). Jeannine’s rounded shoulders are symbolic of how she really isn’t that strong of a person, she is very submissive and does everything for the man. Also the fact that she is always tired and has trouble waking up in the morning proves that as a woman she is drained from trying to please men. Her long limbed body represents her balance and control. The second J is Joanna “somewhat older, more active, with a different gait, different mannerisms, quick and jerky, sits with spine like a ruler” (Russ 162). Joanna’s sturdy spine is symbolic of her power. She is a strong, independent woman who is able to

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