Rejection of the Male Dominance in ““The Women Men Don’t See” and “When it Changed”

7 Mar

Reading Tiptree’s stories at the time he writes his stories makes the reader ambivalent of the author’s perspective as if being a tough, mysterious man, sympathetic to feminism. The stories could make the reader question the author’s persona and what might cause Sheldon uses the man’s name to write her stories. In fact, some people when read a story, they try to make sense of the story depending on how and where they see the author. Both Alice Sheldon and Joanna Russ write a complex science fiction stories that complement that portrayal of women. The struggle between genders is kind of the major theme among both “The Women Men Don’t See” and “When it Changed” stories and how the society seems to be struggling by the corruption that is made by men. Inequality between men and women is the direct message by these science fictional stories that embody a feminist lesson.

The dual authorship of “The Women Men Don’t See” by Alice Sheldon represented by James Tiptree Jr could create, what Justine Larbalestier mentioned, “the cusp between the mostly male-authored battle-of-the-sexes texts of the period up to the early 1970 and the mostly female-authored texts of the 1970s” (148). It is an interesting issue when we compare the two authors of our stories today, we see Joanna Russ in her story, “When it Changed”, is portrayed by an unknown narrator that readers may not identify either he or she is male or female until the halfway of the story. Larbalestier refers to Russ argument about that in his book, The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction, where she mentioned in her article in 1981, that she calls the later texts feminist utopias. Russ maintains the battle-of the-sexes texts and the feminist utopias of the 1970s(149). It could be part of the science fiction feminist utopias challenge the order of the male dominance.

Tiptree’s “The Women Men Don’t See” and Russ’s “When It Changed” portrays kind of an extremist feminist view of the society that rejects the existence of the male gender in the utopian world. For example, we can see towards the end of “The Women Men Don’t See” that Ruth decided to take her daughter and leave the Earth and go with the aliens. She believes that she should not belong to the corrupted society by males’ dominance where there is no equality between genders. Therefore, she decided to be part of the utopian world. Another example is almost the same where the women in the utopian planet in “When It Changed” are having the same vision. Russ considers life on Earth is corrupted by the male dominance where no sexual equality between men and women. It is a portrayal of men who are incapable of respecting women’s accomplishments. Therefore, Janet said, “ I doubt very much that sexual equality has been reestablished on Earth” (Russ 774).  She is possibly aware that she needs to protect the planet from destruction of the male dominated universe.


Work Cited


Larbalestier, Justine. The battle of the sexes in science fiction. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 2002. Print.

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