This audio piece is based on the four feminist science fiction novels The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin, 1969, Herland, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 1915, The Female Man, Joanna Russ, 1970
and The Shore of Women, Pamela Sargent, 1986. It has been shown together with The Reconstruction of the House of the Qiao Zi Family (2007).
Summary of the Audio Play
Mathilde assumes the role of the time traveller, paying visits to the worlds described in different novels. For a start, she drops in on the post-nuclear world of The Shore of Women by Pamela Sargent (1986), where women live in fenced-in hi-tec enclaves. Men are not admitted and are left to their own devices, leading stone-age lives in the wilderness.
In the religion practised in The Shore of Women, which was devised by women, the female principle is equated with the divine. For the purposes of artificial insemination, sperm is harvested in the course of fertility rituals from men who are put into a kind of trance for the purpose.
In the dystopia The Female Man by Joanna Russ (1970) Mathilde meets her alter ego called Jael. This female warrior from a world torn by constant war between the sexes forces Mathilde and a number of her alter egos to become time travellers to help her decide the war in her favour.
Mathilde then moves on by spaceship to the world of The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin (1969). In 4870 the planet Winter is inhabited by a population unacquainted with the dualities that shape our societies: male-female, good-evil, etc. Its inhabitants are free to change their sexual identity as they please.
Mathilde’s trip also takes her to Herland, from the eponymous novel by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1915), where she finds a peaceful, highly developed society that consists exclusively of women. Asexual reproduction is the rule here. In the end, Mathilde wakes up in the same Mosuo log house from which she set out at the beginning of her journey.
Mathilde, Visual Artist
Laissa, Younger Schoolgirl
Billy, Boy of Five
Zoreen, Older Schoolgirl
Avril, Young Man
Ai, Investigator on Planet Winter
Jael, Woman Soldier
The sci-fi subgenre of the feminist novel deals with questions such as how society reacts to the construction of gender stereotypes and what role reproduction plays in the warped political and personal power relationships between women and men. No other genre can match the feminist sci-fi novel’s clarity of vision as regards feminist goals and their repercussions both in utopian and dystopian worlds. The sci-fi subgenre of the feminist novel deals with questions such as how society reacts to the construction of gender stereotypes and what role reproduction plays in the warped political and personal power relationships between women and men. No other genre can match the feminist sci-fi novel’s clarity of vision as regards feminist goals and their repercussions both in utopian and dystopian worlds.
This work has been shown at
Any Day Now, LENTOS Kunstmuseum, Linz, 2011
Long Live Matriarchy!, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, 2009