The Great Depression and Its Shadow: Why Does It Matter In The Female Man?

The article I found to analyse is about feminism and women’s movements through history in America. It summarizes different movements and the waves of feminism that took place. One thing that really stood out to me was the mention of the Great Depression in the article. This reminded me of a segment I found in Joanna Russ’s novel where there was this idea that WWII had never happened and instead the Great Depression kept going well into the 70’s. Why did the author choose this setting for one of her characters? I think she was trying to make an argument, not about the Great Depression itself, but about the time she was living in when she wrote the novel.  Joanna Russ was around during the second wave of feminism in the 60’s and 70’s, and the first wave was in the very early 1900’s. The long gap between the two is a result of, you guessed it, the Great Depression and WWII. An article I found talks for a bit about how the Great Depression put a hiatus on a lot of social movements, especially women’s rights and equality movements. So in relation to Russ’s novel, a world where the Great Depression never ended, it seems that this hiatus never ended as well. This is the world in which Jeannine lives. In the book however, it seems that while there are still some significant gender and equality issues, it seems that not that much is different from Joanna’s world. I think that’s exactly the point. However much progress has been made in the 70’s is clearly not enough, as she compares her world to the Great Depression, void of any progress. Russ’s choice of setting enhances her argument that not only more work is needed in society, but also that so far, not nearly enough has been accomplished. Russ might respond to the article by saying that it’s not enough. All the fighting and marching is for sure a start, but it is nowhere near the end result Russ wishes it to be.



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