"Does Not Fempute": A Critique Of Liberal And Radical Feminism In Three Novels By Ursula K. Le Guin
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Ursula K. Le Guin is often called a feminist science fiction author. Drawing on such theorists as bell hooks and R. W. Connell, I analyze three novels by Le Guin from a social constructivist feminist perspective. I discuss The Dispossessed as it relates to gender and the family in utopian writing, The Lathe of Heaven with respect to gender and race, and Lavinia and gender within the context of the overall trajectory of Le Guin’s writing. I conclude that these novels depict gender in ways that often essentialize identity, whether the novels’ presentations of gender align with liberal or radical feminist ideas, and sometimes represent characters more conservatively than the label “feminist author” might imply. I propose that Le Guin’s status as a feminist writer requires more specific qualification that accounts for the variety of beliefs in existence in contemporary feminist discourse.