It was a few months ago, when my writing teacher and mentor told me something like: “No, you NEED to read Ursula LeGuin. It’s your type, you’ll love it. And it will help you very much in your writing.”
Of course she was right, but that’s not the point.
I started a few weeks ago reading a collection of short stories called ‘The Birthday of the World’.
The first story – ‘Coming of Age in Karhide’ – already blew my mind away, talking about a species where gender is only decided at the dawn of puberty.
However, the second story is the one I would like to write about here. ‘The Matter of Seggri’ tells about a world where women not only are more than men, but rule the world in an absolute way, keeping men in ignorance and segregating them in castles. The only use women have of men is to get pregnant and have children.
Of course, the society is utterly unbalanced.
Then the Ekumen arrive – aliens from a society much more sex-balanced. In time, things start to change and the order is subverted. Men are let free, but is that a good thing?
I loved the setting and I loved the place where the story came from.
In fact, it is not widely known that, due to infanticide and femicide (murder of women, which let’s remember it’s legal in some countries), the gender ratio on Earth is slightly biased, meaning there are more men than women. Like much more.
To take this situation and completely reverse it, building a society so much unbalanced as to be almost entirely composed by women seems the most illogical thing to do. Yet, Ursula LeGuin manages to make such a strong statement of it, something that makes me want to print out the story and stick it to every wall of every city in every country.
Gender equality is not just a silly claim for supporters of the politically correct. Gender equality is a necessity and Ursula LeGuin has shown us why.