Nomansland - Lesley Hauge

Warning - I gave away some spoilers while ranting

Well, um, I have no idea why this book was written. And this is just one of those books that definitely requires an explanation, it is quite clearly not for basic entertainment value... there's a message in there somewhere, I'm sure of it, a message that's all about women and men and feminism, the way we live now and the way we could live. I'm just not sure what that is. In fact, "not sure" seems too mild a phrase, to say I haven't got a clue would be more appropriate.

Furthermore, Nomansland read like a short story that someone had desperately tried to stretch into a full-length novel and failed miserably at it. There is only one important chapter in the whole book - the one where the girls find the house from "the time before" - and the rest appears to be just filler, shock tactics, and some of the worst world-building I've ever read. This novel could be set at any time, even in our present time, it could be set anywhere in this world or another. The world is there to form a weak backdrop against some sketchy feminist discussions ramblings.

I admit I read this because I thought The Gate to Women's Country would be too hardcore for a sci-fi wuss like me and saw this as the young adult alternative. So there's this land (somewhere, at some time) whose population is made up entirely of women, I would tell you how this happened and where the men went if only I knew the answer to that myself. But anyway, they are trained warriors, an idea I would very much like to comment on but risk giving away spoilers so I will restrain myself. They are also taught to accept that the lives they live, no matter how stressful, are better than the way things were "before". Before what, one can only imagine.

The big event of this book is when a group of girls stumble across some objects from "before". These objects include magazines, barbie dolls and make-up. They are astounded at the shiny images of women, some unbelievably skinny, when they are muscular and hairy. The clothes and shoes they find seem ridiculous. It is noted how the barbie dolls prove that the women of "the time before" walked permanently on tiptoe. Whether you agree with the ideas portrayed or not, it seems rather clear what the author's intention is with this, right? Basically, poke fun at modern society with it's stick-thin models and obsession with beauty to the point of having painful "spiked" shoes. Uh, no, not quite...

Because this novel's evil bitch character is determined to never return to these ways of the past, she sees these women as weak and submissive to the patriarchal society, the story of genesis as a way for men to hide their fear of their own lust behind the forced subservience of women, and she sees that those who disagree are punished in a variety of disgusting ways. So... confusing. And underneath it all there is an uprising brewing, girls who have not fallen for her lies and wish to escape Nomansland to the world outside. So is the message that the society we live in is actually good? That we should stick with the skinny models and make-up and beauty pageants?

Who the hell knows? Lesley Hauge, just what is your point?

I admire any author who tries to incorporate feminist philosophy into their writing, it doesn't get enough publicity, but I can't figure out what this wishy-washy message is trying to say to me. I almost miss Kristin Cashore, at least I knew what she was going on about, even if her message was scarily radical most of the time and not what I agree with. I won't give away the ending to Nomansland, but I will say that it only confuses me even more and I wonder if Ms Hauge even knew herself what she wanted to say with this novel.