Through a series of short stories, Gearheart tells the stories of the Hill Women. The Hill Women live in serene world, communing with nature at every turn. Their world seems to have reached the apex of peaceful living, until the reader learns why the women live in the forests: they are forced to. Men have taken over the cities, and control every facet of a woman’s life. The women that rebelled fled the cities and learned to live among the trees and animals. In doing so, they developed psychic abilities, like “speaking” with animals, astral projection, and telepathy to name a few.
While the comparisons between the Hill Women and Gilman’s Herlanders are strong, Gearheart brings realism to the Hill Women by depicting them in the throes of irrational, or even violent fits of anger. One thing which seems to be reiterated in feminist utopian fiction novels is the lack of physical violence in women, but Gearheart is not afraid to admit her peaceful characters are still human, and within their range of human emotions, anger can be counted among them. Russ and Tepper bring similar elements to their female characters in The Female Man and The Shore of Women. In both novels, the female characters are part of war-less societies, but they are still capable of individual acts of violence.
Gearheart, Sally. The Wanderground: Stories of Hill Women. New York: Alyson Books, 1978. Print.
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