Women’s Right in Flatland and Spaceland


The book: “Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions” written by Edwin A. Abbott, published in 1884.

I was able to read first ten chapter of the book. I am not going to summarize the book, you can find it online, and besides it is a short one. Myself as a fan of science fiction works, I liked the book as far as I have read. The writer of the book has been built a World called Flatland(two dimensional world) which geometric figures live. I really liked the idea of living in a two dimensional World with lines, triangles, squares, circles around. The story teller is A Square and this is where the story began.

Yet, there are other things I want to mention about the book.

In the book, there are two dominant topic as I have read. One of them is hierarchical structure, namely the geometric figures differentiates from each other with their number of corners. The more you have corner, the more you are at upper crust. There is class distinction even in their houses. Moreover, there are the ones who does not have any corner, that is to say straight lines. Let’s guess who are they? WOMEN! Here is the other dominant topic; women. As you see, the flatland also has the features of the World we live in now or should I say that the book gives clues from the real three dimensional world of that period. At this point, indepently of central topic of the book, I want to talk a bit about the women phenomenon which is one of the topical subjects of those times’ real world.

flatland1_womenSome details in the book explain the humiliation of women such as in the houses there is a small door for the women and a much larger one for the men. While the book has a chapter named Concerning ‘The’ Women, after some chapters, it has a chapter named Concerning ‘Our’ Priests. Because the book is going over the ‘women’ theme, even this thing disturbed me (Why is it our priests instead of the priests? I do not know.). For example, the book says “A male child shall have one more side than his, father, so that each generation shall rise (as a rule) one step in the scale of development and nobility.” Well, what about girls?

In the Spaceland(three dimensional world), there are similar situations too. Women are not allowed to travel alone, there are restrictions on women by saying women are prone to violence and so on.

… To my readers in Spaceland the condition of our Women may seem truly deplorable, and so indeed it is. … no Woman can entertain such hopes for her sex. “Once a Woman, always a Woman” …

Above quotation is a short explanation of the women case from the book.

I do not know whether they are the opinions of writer or he reflects the situation of those days but I know that I really do not like the evaluations on the book about women. The publication time of the book: 19th century, also the time women’s right movement has explored. So, women’s right was an important issue in those days.

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