Let me tell you about the weirdest book I have ever read: Doris Lessing’s The Cleft and I warn you that I have read Woolf’s Orlando and Joyce’s Ulysses.
It starts as the story of a mythical society of women: the cleft watchers, that is to say, the vagina defenders. They lived in Clefts on the beach and they gave birth only to girls without the need of men. They were a happy community. They didn’t keep damaged babies which were given to the eagles as food.
So far, it seems a feminist extreme point of view, challenging Freud’s idea that females lack penises and stating instead that penises are useless deformed limps. However, these primitive inhabitants of the world start giving birth to more and more deformed babies, boys, and the eagles stop eating them and take them to the valley where a society of males is created. I cannot help thinking that those eagles stand for the US and Capitalism since men are born, in the story, with the instinct of exploring and invading, looking for action and adventures.
Women, at this point, think they don’t need these deformed creatures but they realize they can no longer bring babies to the world on their own as they had been doing for ages, they need those limps now.
The second part of the novel is full of stereotypes and I strongly feel it lacks the creativity of the first half. Women are shown to lack instincts, they are unused to physical activity and they have to teach men to keep their shelters clean. On the other side, men fought each other for no good reason and invented a game that consisted in stone-throwing of which women didn’t see the point.
Lessing seems to be saying at the end that since the day that we needed men to reproduce, human relationships have not changed but I would have preferred a different development of human history or at least less stereotypes.