Reviews tagging Sexism

The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin

8 reviews

morganlehay's review

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adventurous challenging dark emotional hopeful inspiring reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.5

A philosophical, poetic, and anthropological story of two people gaining a profound bond despite being aliens to one another. The story is most noted for its play with gender, and while I did love how that was showcased in the worldbuilding and interacted with our main narrator's own bias', I honestly think its a shame that is all its known for because to me it was about so much more. There are many ruminations and descriptions in this book that will stick with me, and it was such a treat to be carried along on a journey through this world. However, this is not a lighthearted story. It is as bleak at the planet's weather, but I really resonated with the fact that all of its most terrible truths were tangled up with its beauty. I don't recommend this to someone who has a hard time keeping track of terms, as a lot of alien names and concepts are thrown at you, which I felt was immersing but could also see how it might turn people away.

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giuliabtw's review against another edition

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reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.75


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dziggetai's review

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adventurous challenging emotional inspiring reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0


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gingersnap0211's review against another edition

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challenging reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.25


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miak2's review

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challenging reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0

 
“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.” p.70

The Left Hand of Darkness is consistently listed by the internets as one of the best science fiction books and I can certainly see why. Contrary to many modern sci-fis, which are action-packed to the brim, this book is much more introspective. It moves at a slower pace, but never so slow that it became uninteresting. Admittedly, it took me a little bit to get into. As with any other fantasy or sci-fi book, there's a great deal of worldbuilding to do (and here in just about 300 pages), and it can be hard to follow a plot as you're trying to understand new terms like shifgrethor or kemmering . But for me, personally, the early discussions of politics and gender held my interest until the plot picked up.

I thought it was fascinating for much of the story to be told from Genly Ai's perspective, a human not unlike us who's still adjusting to the world of Gethen. And in more ways than one, he certainly struggles with their sexual fluidity, but also with their customs and norms. (And also with the casual -40 degree temperatures, oof). What Le Guin did really well was create not one new world, but multiple, and made clear distinctions between the ways of Karhide and the ways of Orgoreyn.

But let me get into the discussion of gender, because that was the book's primary purpose. Honestly, coming into this book, I expected this discussion to be more heavy-handed. There are certainly a few times where Le Guin takes the time to write out how lack of sexuality (and therefore gender norms and expectations) distinguishes Gethen/Winter from Terran/Earth ( chapter 7, if you're curious ). However, a lot more of her commentary was very subtle, such as when Ai wonders whether his companion's precise rationing of food should be interpreted as "house-wifely or scientific" p. 242. Like Ai, it was difficult for me to keep in mind that, while there is sexuality during kemmer, there is no gender on Gethen, despite the use of the male pronouns to describe everyone he encountered. We see this lack of gender play out in some very subtle ways, which I won't get into in order to avoid spoiling anything of the book.

Tl;dr, sex and gender are different and this book is a great exploration/explanation of that. 

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miriamana's review

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challenging emotional hopeful reflective sad tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.75


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surelyinthefountain's review

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dark emotional inspiring reflective sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

Love this book; it's the romance of the century, though I admit I have so much personal attachment to it because of the care and nuance with which Le Guin writes nonbinary characters. Estraven is the nonbinary rep we all deserve, and Genry's growing understanding of who they were outside of the gender binary was just SO formative for me and helpful in my own journey. There's a lot of wisdom there and at least in my opinion, not very dated. The use of "he/him" for androgynous characters perhaps isn't what Le Guin might have chosen had she been writing today, but it's well-justified, I think, based on who Genry Ai is that he would use that pronoun set when writing his report. A couple of passages seem rooted in a more overtly sexist society, but to be honest, we unfortunately still live in a world where many people still fundamentally believe those things, even if they know what they're "supposed to" say, and those attitudes still do great harm out in the world. So this book is more relevant than ever, I think.
But then, maybe I'm just biased. This book is beautiful and I'm not afraid to gush forever about it! A world where people aren't seen as male or female, just as human beings -- what's not to love??

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readerette's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

I'm glad I read the afterword in this book, as it called to my attention the benefit of some of the things I disliked, such as the main human character using "he" as a neutral pronoun and seemingly finding every opportunity to disrespect "feminine" characteristics in a gender-neutral world. Turns out that Le Guin later regretted using "he" as gender-neutral, and that on inspection, the main character is not as progressive as he likes to think he is, with his gender bias proving that out.

What I enjoyed regardless was the poetic definition of this new world so different from ours and so much the same. I also liked the relationship between Genly and Therem, which was appropriately complex and believable. Some parts were too slow or detailed for my taste so I did some skimming, but it was still wonderful world-building and sociological exploration.

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