The Daughters of Egalia Book Review
Norwegian author Ms. Gerd Brantenberg has created a mythical land called Egalia in her famous novel The Daughters of Egalia (aka, Egalia’s Daughters: A Satire of the Sexes). The gender that bears the children rules the roost. The females who menstruate are considered more in tune with the forces of nature. God is “Mother God in heaven.” (pg.17). Lucifer is referred to as Lucy. The Linguistic Power Structure continues to personal terms. Wom is a dominant female. Menwim are subordinate mules. A Seawom is a sea-going dominant female. The author uses this to illustrate means of reversal; how our society in the real world uses speech and writing to signal power relations between the sexes.
The Maidmen’s Ball is an example of how sexual dominance exists to give one gender freedom and keep the other suppressed. The name Maidman’s Ball means a gathering of virgin Menwim. This is the proverbial meat market for the Woms. The young Lordies are expected to wait passively while the Woms prowl and choose one or more to accompany them to one of the Maidman-Rooms for sexual conquest.
Language provides subtle clues or rules to signal power relations. Names which are dominate, male in the real world and female in Egalia, are or can be reduced to one syllable. The word God is one syllable. In Egalia, the head of the household dominant female is named Ruth Bram. The Housebound subordinate male who cares for the children is named Christopher. While Ruth is either referred to as Ruth or as Ms. Bram throughout the book, Christopher is never called Chris.
Spinnerman Lisello Owlmoss is the son of a previous school principal. The title “Spinnerman” probably means unmarried. He is the rejected father of a young lordie named Cyprian and a teacher at a school where his mother once was the principal. He lives in a house on a hill surrounded by an orchard. He is not called by his first name (Lisello) until later in the book when he forms more casual relationships with his students.
Spinnerman Owlmoss has a real problem with the feminist power structure in Egalia. This shows in his teachings and is subsequently brought to the attention of Ruth Bram by her daughter Ba. Bram is a politician, a member of parliament with the title of Director. She has a word with the principal about not following directives. The directive or course of indoctrination was called “Directive No. 287” (pg.91). These teachings were designed to show how nature’s “divine wisdom” made Menwim the “vulnerable sex.” (p.95). During this lesson the class asks questions of Spinnerman Owlmoss. One question in particular is “about his physical strength and his lack of fatherhood protection.” (pg.99). Then, later, about his son that he was not allowed to claim (pg.101).
– Steve Drury (aka, Stephen E. Drury, Sr.), Staff Writer, Phoenix Genesis
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