In January 1892 the short story The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman was published by The New England Magazine. It is widely regarded as ‘feminist literature.’ I think of it as a psychological thriller. I’ve read few first person accounts that have captured mental insanity like that. It’s the story of a woman who is depressed and is made by her doctor and husband to stay in bed and try to rest. Overtaken by her solitude she begins to focus on the wallpaper in the room, getting lost in the patterns, and seeing shadows in the corner. Her descent into madness is one of the best I’ve read.
In 1915 Gilman-Stetson released her novel Herland. Herland is the story of three men who set out on an exploration in search of a mythical island only inhabited by women only partially believing the possibility that such a land could indeed exist.
Upon reaching the land the men begin their exploration and are quickly met by the Amazonian type females who inhabit the area. The three men stood no chance as the females rounded them up, brought them to the central building of the town, anesthetized them, and locked them in a fortress. The women give them men comfortable living quarters, food, and clean clothes, but they remain locked up. Little time is wasted as each man is assigned a tutor so they can learn the language and customs of the tribe. After months of captivity the men break out and make their way back to the plane they flew in on only to find it has been covered with a huge tent and they are unable to escape fully. They are recaptured by the females and brought back to captivity. Still treated relatively fairly despite being locked behind walls the men are forced to continue learning the language, history, and customs of the tribe and find out they will not be released until they are thought to be trustworthy.
100 years after the publication of Herland, enter the lovely and charming Julie Bindel who you will find to the left. Bindel lists her occupation as columnist, political commentator, and cultural critic. But she’s really just a radical feminist who has made a career of hating men and perpetuating unnecessary fear of men in others. On August 29th, 2015 in an interview Bindel said the following of men;
“I mean, I would actually put them all in some kind of camp where they can all drive around in quad bikes, or bicycles, or white vans. I would give them a choice of vehicles to drive around with, give them no porn, they wouldn’t be able to fight – we would have wardens, of course! Women who want to see their sons or male loved ones would be able to go and visit, or take them out like a library book, and then bring them back.”
Just a note for my male friends reading this. Don’t worry, I go to the library a lot, I’ll check you guys out. Maybe I could smuggle you to freedom….like an underground railroad.
The story of the tribe in Herland goes as follows. The men had all died 2,000 years prior during a volcano eruption. The women then learned how to live without men and over time began asexually reproducing only females. They created their own way of life and the last trace of a man in their tribe’s history was so far gone they didn’t even understand things such as sex, marriage, or gender. The women of the tribe did treat the men in a way one would expect. A strange human like creature shows up in your midst; you protect yourself first. Their means of protecting themselves was to hold the men captive. The story does really get into some ‘female power’ themes, but none are as venomous as the ideas spewed forth by people such as Julie Bindel, Andrea Dworkin, Clementine Ford and so on. These people cite people such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman as a feminist. She was. But she never said anything as vile as what these women spew.
I didn’t like Herland. Beyond the theme I just don’t get into such fantasy plus it was pretty boring in writing style especially compared to The Yellow Wallpaper, but it is pushed as feminist lit and it is pivotal in that genre.
I think it is interesting to note how radicalized feminists have become since the days of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Gilman’s characters had never encountered a man before. They were of course scared, yet even in that fear all Gilman had her characters do was lock them up until things could be figured out. Bindel lives in a world of men and has encountered them on a daily basis, so her fear of all men is not justified, surely she has encountered perfectly lovely men. I often wonder if people like her are just trolling on a larger level however if they are not their vitriol is inexcusable seeing as the characters Gilman created were more sympathetic to men than she is. Then these women cite people like Gilman as early feminists, but they are worlds apart.