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Dystopian visions: Women, men and equality in “The Gate to Women's Country”, “The Outlander: Captivity”, and “The Shore of Women”

Naomi Stankow-Mercer, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This thesis examines societal representations of matriarchy in The Shore of Women by Pamela Sargent, The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper, and The Outlander: Captivity by B. J. Salterberg, and the ways in which these texts investigate the issue of male aggression and whether women and men can develop an egalitarian society. This thesis explores how these three 1980s dystopias question the methods by which the 1970s utopian texts' societies function through demonstrating how humans can easily pervert feminist utopian characteristics in order for one group to seize and maintain power and continue the exploitation and oppression of other people. This thesis will briefly discuss the chronological development of feminist utopian writing among American women, beginning with the late nineteenth century, and the subsequent evolution of 1970s utopian visions into the dystopian texts of the 1980s and locate these novels in their cultural milieu as feminist texts. Secondly, it will examine the traits of the feminist utopian genre and its application to the matriarchal societies depicted in the novels. Lastly, it will address how each of the texts employs the conventions of 1970s utopian writing to present a more complex questioning of power and equality.

Subject Area

Womens studies|American studies|American literature

Recommended Citation

Stankow-Mercer, Naomi, "Dystopian visions: Women, men and equality in “The Gate to Women's Country”, “The Outlander: Captivity”, and “The Shore of Women”" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI1414991.