Friday, September 23, 2005

As promised, a eugenics rant from the left

Herland

bookcover

"We have bred a race of psychic hybrids," said early 20th century feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "and the moral qualities of hybrids are well known." Whatever does she mean? "Marry an Anglo-Saxon to an African or Oriental," she writes elsewhere, "and their child has a dual nature." This, we are led to understand, would be a bad thing. While contemporaries like Looking Backward author Edward Bellamy foresaw a globalized future in which humanity would blend together, economically, politically, and sexually, Gilman deeply feared such a development. She wasn't alone; her era gave birth to hysterical racial fears manifest in discriminatory immigration laws and crackpot forms of eugenics. Her 1915 utopian novel Herland depicts a colony of women "of Aryan stock, once in contact with the best civilization," isolated from the rest of the world but surrounded by the indigenous people of South America. The women reproduce through parthenogenesis, giving birth only to girls.

The result is, of course, a pure and perfect society: "You see," says the castaway male narrator, "they had no wars. They had no kings, and no priests, and no aristocracies. They were sisters, and as they grew, they grew together; not by competition, but by united action." See what can be accomplished if you just get rid of the biological group that most offends your sensibilities? A racially and sexually homogeneous society will, according to Gilman, quite naturally, and with apparently very little effort, blossom into utopia. While Euro-American feminist fans of Gilman, whose story "The Yellow Wallpaper" is a staple of women's-studies classes, would prefer to separate out Gilman's racism from her brand of feminism, in fact the two are inseparable. Gilman is not so different a figure from Elisabeth Nietzsche-Förster; perhaps in death they both haunt Nueva Germania, united in their ideal of sisterhood.

From an interesting link,

The Ten Stupidest Utopias!

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