More Sheri Tepper (was Re: Good Haul)

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at
Wed Jun 27 21:46:42 EDT 2001

On Wed, 27 Jun 2001 20:47:53 +0100, Dorian E. Gray wrote:

>> > >The Gate to Women's Country, Sheri S Tepper

>Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against feminism in principle.  But
>in practice, most of the feminists I've come across have been of the "men
>are evil" variety.  Furthermore, I have a constitutional dislike of being
>told what to do or think, so when someone pops up and tells me "you ought to
>think this" - and especially if they tell me "since you're a woman, you must
>think this"...I get peeved.
>And I saw, in "Beauty", a certain amount of soapbox-ing, of (implied, rather
>than stated outright) "you are a woman, you must think this - and if you're
>a man, well then you'd better get your act together and behave yourself!"
>And that annoyed me a lot.
>But this is all my opinion, and what I read into Ms. Tepper's writing, and
>may not be the case for others.  And I haven't read "The Gate into Women's
>Country" anyway (frankly, the title put me off!  I expect it to be a
>strident feminist book, and I don't want to read any more of that kind of
>Let us know what it's like, and if my prejudices are justified, or if I
>should give myself a good kick in the rear and read it. :-)

I feel pretty much the same way about Tepper's books, though back in my
stridently feminist days I liked them a lot.  :)

She has wonderful stories and good mysterious plots; she usually begins her
books with a strange, unexplained scene that sets up the main question the
reader gets to puzzle out as the story progresses.  Her alien worlds
intrigue me.  _Gate to Women's Country_ is also one of my favorite kind of
books (post-global-disaster novel) and I really like the different cultures
she bases societies on.

Having said that, I find as I grow older and more set in my ways, I question
her premises a lot more.  And that makes it difficult to enjoy her books.
Her later works in particular have this rigid worldview that doesn't leave a
lot of room for dissent.  There are a lot of men who are just Evil or Stupid
and sometimes both.  Women in general are more intelligent, more feeling,
more capable of humanity than men in general.  It's satisfying if you want
to demonize men; it's not terribly realistic.  I end up feeling lectured
to--or worse, brushed aside because I'm not part of the choir she's
preaching to.  I didn't bother finish _Singer to the Sea_ ("from" the sea?
can't remember) because when I got to the central scene where the mystery is
revealed, I was so annoyed I couldn't enjoy it anymore.

_The Gate to Women's Country_ isn't as strident as you'd think, but it still
has a fair amount of that soapbox mentality.  I think it's worth trying
because it's still a good story--better if you let yourself accept her
premises as true--and it's a good example of feminist literature (one kind
of feminist literature anyway).  But I think it's pretty much the same thing
you objected to about _Beauty_.

Melissa Proffitt
(who still considers herself a feminist, but it's too tiring arguing
definitions with people)
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