Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

You may be familiar with Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s semi-autobiographical short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper.” She was a utopian feminist at the turn of the twentieth century and suffered greatly in the clutches of the feminine crushing patriarchal society that is painfully portrayed in “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

Herland is brilliant and witty and therapeutic. It is another book on the top of my list about imagined female dominated societies and my favorite thus far. It’s a funny and tragically perceptive tale of three men who find a land inhabited by an ancient and advanced civilization of evolved women. The women are “not feminine” by the overly sexualized standards of the modern world but wear clothes expertly designed with an abundance of pockets. The culture of exclusively women prizes motherhood as their most divine blessing; however, the evolved women have very different morals and practices that define motherhood that the three men find offensive and barbaric.

The whole experiment is expertly designed with tragic undertones of non-existence. A utopia where women are free and valued. Simple, yet, thus far, unattainable.