Now, I normally stay away from “Feminist” books as I personally don’t support the idea of misandry. However, Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin has been compared to The Handmaid’s Tale which I enjoyed.
There are several stories intertwined in this novel but the overarching story is that we are now in the future where we’ve regressed back to a patriarchal society wherein women have little to no rights. We’ve also made contact with alien species and we have 13 Linguist families whose primary purpose is to breed and assist in the translation. They would put infants in interfaces with the aliens so that they can learn their humanoid languages.
1) We follow Nazareth, the daughter of the head Linguist, in her journey into adulthood, into marriage, and through cancer where she leaves her husband’s house to live with the elderly women Linguists (they cast away the non-child-bearing women to their own house). She finds out they have been creating a secret language only for women.
2) Nazareth’s father, Thomas, is the head Linguist of all 13 families and it turns out he’s in kahoots with the government work agency people who are trying to create their own linguist.
3) The government work agency (not related to the government) have been asking for infant volunteers so they can interface them with aliens with non-humanoid languages.
4) Michaela Landry, a nurse, murdered her husband by way of bee stings, seeks to kill the Linguists one by one to avenge her son’s death which she believes is done by the Linguists. (Her husband donated their son to the Government Work people mentioned above)
The results? Well, you have to read to find out.
I give this 4/5! I really liked this book. It wasn’t an easy read, not just because we have so many characters point of views all over the place but there is an affectation to the writing to reflect the time period in which the book is set.
However, I do recommend reading it because it has given me a new perspective on what it means to be a feminist. I have to be very honest with you that I did not watch that Emma Watson video on her ramblings about being a feminist nor do I care to watch it. Sorry, I’m just not interested. But from what I hear, she should run for President ASAP. On the other hand, I have read diatribes by feminist women (why I chose to read them is not the issue at hand) and because of this, the idea of being a feminist has left a terrible taste in my mouth.
I think another reason is that I’ve met several women who strongly believe that they don’t need men in their lives to eke out a living. True enough but again, their “I will bring home the bacon and will not rely on men” left a terrible taste in my mouth.
Then I have men telling me that it annoys them when women want equality and get really upset when you actually treat them equally. Something I totally agree with. Women say they want equality but you also want men to do things for you? My heavens, I thought you said you could do it alone? And I’ve been sailing on that boat for the longest time until this book.
I was able to see a world without women’s rights. I know this still happens in this day and age and I do feel for those women. But this is happening not just in third world countries but right in our backyards! Women were treated like second class citizens who needed permission from men to do anything. And yet, unlike in the past, women actually have to work and they don’t even get to keep their salary. I think that was the point where I got really riled up. So you expect the woman to cook and clean (due to stereotypical gender roles) but you want her to work and you get to keep the money? NO. FUCKING. WAY. What irked me even more was that there were schools to learn to be better wives. EXCUSE ME? Is there a school for being a better human being?
As they say, you never truly appreciate something unless it’s taken away from you and Haden does a really good job of making you feel like you truly have been stripped of your rights as a human being. The inequality of it all.
I won’t go picketing for women’s rights any time soon but I have a better appreciation what the suffragettes and other women have done to obtain these rights for us.
4/5 // Cross-posted on my book review blog: She Reads (anndreachan.com)