I am going to start off this post by talking about the ending as it finally makes you question the future. After Connie is given the operation that has left both Alice and Skip in a catatonic state, the chapter lacks any talk of the future. Now, to some this would seem like the proof needed to prove Connie’s madness; however, looking at this from outside the context of the book, it seems like Piercy is going for the age old misdirection. Piercy wants the reader to feel that Connie’s madness has been proven only to show us it was real all along. As of right now this is where I see the book going, but on to analysis rather than speculation.
Marge Piercy’s atrocious feminist writing continues to rear it’s ugly head, but let me talk about something positive first. The reader finally gets to see Connie as a strong female character. Throughout chapter twelve the reader is treated to Connie not only hatching an escape plan, but succeeding at it as well. Although this chapter is over saturated with characters like the others, this is one of the only chapters that has a strong focus on Connie. Finally the reader is shown her strength by demonstrating it rather than by being surrounded by evil men. Seeing Connie struggle to get away from the facility by enduring swollen feet, and hunger, all while showing off her intelligence by staying as by being cautious of cars depending on their speed and scouting out the diner she should eat it. All of that is just what the reader is shown at face value and it’s good stuff, but on to digging deeper and seeing the rule point of this chapter.
I realize that the time in which the book was written was a harder time for women, I really do. People, however, have to take into account that we live in a different society than people who were around in the 80’s; some books just age horribly, and Woman On The Edge Of Time is no exception. Women in our time are not treated as they were in the 70’s, so a book of this caliber is only destructive to our society. It simply enforces a perpetual blind hate that feminists have towards men. Men are not out to get women. Yes, misogyny still exists, but it is not valued in our society; furthermore, just as their are men that believe women have their place, there are women that believe the same of men. I know that was not digging into the text of the book but it had to be explained before I can get to the examples of the annoying feminist writing.
Shall we start on the chapter that Connie showed us her strength? So, how does Connie end up back at the ward after escaping? A man. Not only was it not good enough for Piercy to have Connie sent back to her ‘demise’ by a man, but a man looking at porn, AND not only was that man looking at porn, but it seems he was looking at BDSM PORN: “On the cover two naked women embraced while a man about eight feet tall dressed all in black leather cracked a whip around them (250).” Let’s dive into this and analyze what Piercy is oh so subtly trying to tell the reader: 1. Women are just sexual objects to men. 2. Women should be submissive men. 3. Men should control women through violent means. 4. Men will always tower over women; women have no power. Additionally, at the beginning of chapter 12 Connie talks about how people only pay attention to the way one dresses (232). The reason Connie chooses to take a dress, rather than something practical, when she escapes is because the only way she can be considered normal and blend in is by playing the role given to her by man.
The first character to go through the new round of treatment that the doctors were using was Alice. After the surgery Alice basically becomes a puppet of the male doctors; they can control her anger and make her obedient (196-197). Skip also goes through the same treatment, but his procedure was not shown, nor did it leave him catatonic as it did Alice. This is another way Piercy shows how men force women into obedience and their need to be able to control women. The male need to control women is also shown when Connie talks about how her sister Inez was given a placebo rather than birth control by a doctor (269). The doctor giving Inez a placebo is meant to symbolize how men believe women are suppose to fall into the stereotypical role of mother/housewife.
I could go on with more examples, but I won’t. I know my posts only focus on the feminist writing, but nothing is fully developed. For example, at one point Connie talks to Luciente about how the judicial system works in the future (201-202), but it only lasts a total of two pages; furthermore, when it is brought up it is completely out of nowhere, and it is never mentioned again, so the conversation was pointless. It is a absolute shame because the themes brought up are interesting and could have served as an interesting social commentary, but alas Piercy’s writing is incapable of taking these ideas any where. “What about rape and murder and beating somebody up? We’re trained in self-defense. We’re trained to respect eachother (201).” Really Piercy? Rape doesn’t exist because people were taught self-defense and respect? What a childish view. If this book is suppose to have an impact on society, why is the reader constantly shown a word that could never be seen as a reality? It is because of moments such as that one that I feel the book has no other value other than being a feminist book.