First I must get out of the way faulty assertions presented in the article “Ecofeminist Pragmatism…”
1) “…there is an essential absence of the division between public and private”(29)
Not true “these people had…the most delicate sense of personal privacy”
2) “To purposefully take a human life is unimaginable to herlanders”
Not true “She wanted to kill him – actually” (132)
Random thought that I found interesting
Motherhood desire is seen as productive
Male desire is seen as counter-productive even destructive
IE Terry’s “appetite” that gets him into trouble / women’s wishing into existence new life
Gilman utopia or segue?
Gilman implies that for a true utopia to exist it must be bi-sexual. She exalts the men in that they were greatly sought after as a source of knowledge and a perceived way to once again enact the original natural state of humanity that existed before the beginning of motherhood. In doing this, Gilman insinuates that motherhood is indeed an unnatural but required state (interim?) needed to set back in place an environment that is “balanced” hence the reference to a bi-sexual state.
This idea of Herland not necessarily being a utopia but a segue is one that is not taken into account in the work by Deegan who wished to place her with ecofeminist criticism. What Deegan did was to focus on the current state, within Herland/Ourland, without looking forward or beyond. In doing this, Deegan does not play up the emphasis of “process and relations”(34) evident within Gilman’s text and instead looks at the story and its sequel as an end product incapable of being extended beyond those points in time, that are explicitly, as Arnold would put it, “mapped out.”
And this brings to question the idea of utopia. Must it be seen as a type of end product in that it has attained a transcendent state? Or can it be thought of as something ever changing? For if it is a result of cognitive mapping, as Arnold / Jameson put forth given its subjective properties could it be anything but in constant flux? The idea of utopia and perma-flux so closely seated to one another seems to almost upend the idea of Utopia all together. Isn’t utopia supposed to support a state of predictability and pleasant monotony to an extent?
On the tail end of these types of questions I will add the brief inquiry as to whether Gilman can be read as ecocriticism at all?
Certainly her story involves exploration of “the relationship of the human and the non human” and entails a questioning of the term “human” itself in that she explores the construction of what it means to be more than a gender but a “human being” however superficially executed (Garrard 4).
And so it seems fitting for this label to be applied; however, I have to circle back round to the issue of timing as ecocriticism seems to be involved in what is and what was but not so much with the what will be but isn’t as of yet quality that plays an influential role in Gilman’s text.