OED – Week 5 Blog Post

I choose the word “savior” from Part Five, Chapter IV page 87 of The Female Man. In context it is used to refer to Janet as Jeannine and Joanna are venturing around New York during Jeannine’s time period. Joanna develops the scene as if the Heavens are parting and angels are blaring on their trumpets but then around the corner comes “our only savior” Janet Evason. Joanna tells us that Janet is wearing a gray flannel jacket and a gray flannel skirt that reaches all the way to her knees.

It seems ironic to me that Joanna would describe such a powerful scene and use the word savior and then go on to describe Janet’s rather regular clothing choice. Generally when I hear or see the word savior, I think of an ethereal figure or someone who is a symbol of power. But instead regular Janet turns the corner in her regular clothes and then proceed with their regular activities of running errands and shopping. The word seems out of place because there is no follow up or immediate action. Perhaps it is used to foreshadow what will come in the future but it is placed in a rather odd part of the text for that.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word “savior” has pretty plain definitions. It is used to refer to Christ, or his real presence, and also can be used to mean “a person who saves or rescues someone or something from danger, harm, or difficulty.” In the case of The Female Man I do not think that Joanna Russ is trying to call Janet a God in Jeannine or Joanna’s societies. It makes more sense that Janet is someone who will save something from harm. At this point in the story we can see that sexism is a definite oppression in certain societies. When Joanna says the word “savior” she says “our only savior” and in the case of context Jeannine was with her. This means that Janet is the proclaimed rescuer for an issue that both Jeannine and Joanna face. They both are living in cultures where women are viewed as inferior or not as significant as men but they also both struggle with internal issues. Is it possible that Janet will save them from their sexist societies or is Joanna referring to something else?


One response to “OED – Week 5 Blog Post

  1. I think it’s interesting that Janet is the one who gets called the ‘savior’, as opposed to any of the other girls, and I think it’s because Janet is the only one of them that hasn’t had to deal with the gender issues all the others are facing. She sees herself as the same as everybody else, and she comes from a world where that is usually the case. I think the others look up to her because she doesn’t feel the need to stop and think “okay, what would the most socially acceptable reaction to this be?”. She says exactly what she thinks, and I think to Joanna and Jeanine it’s really inspiring for them, as they were brought up completely differently.


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