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Topic: Rubyfruit Jungle

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Subject: Rubyfruit Jungle
Date Posted: 4/12/2009 12:41 AM ET
Member Since: 3/21/2009
Posts: 69
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So I received this book yesterday, and finished it in one day, staying up until five this morning to finish it. And I'm really not sure how I feel about it.

 

***May Contain Spoilers***

 

As a bisexual woman, I very much reveled in the main character's escapades with women. I went through similar times in highschool, officially dating boys but secretly seeing girls. But I really didn't like how the men in the book were portrayed. They were very much non-people to the main character, even when she was sleeping with them as basically a cover. I understand the book is about a lesbian, and not a bisexual, so her focus really is on loving women and not men. But I just couldn't get over how she treated them, all men were dumb and boring, and sex with women was *always* better for any woman, regardless of stated sexual preference.

Another aspect I had issues with was how women who chose to have children and get married were treated. It was very obvious that they had made bad decisions and were always miserable. All the marriages portrayed were loveless and sometimes violent, such as with her parents. Having children was referred to as breeding and was icky.

I couldn't put this down, and I pretty much read it from start to finish. I was very engaged with the main character, and really wanted her to succeed at all the things she was striving for. But I also felt like the author took too much pleasure in ridiculing people who made different decisions than the main character. It seems like she's saying everyone should be a lesbian, men are worthless, and you should avoid having children at all costs since they drain the life out of you.

 

What are some other people's thoughts on this? I'm more than willing to discuss this book and the different takes on it.

Date Posted: 4/12/2009 10:09 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,399
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Do remember that Rubyfruit was first published in 1973.   Rita Mae Brown's books have changed greatly regarding men and families.  But there was very little positive lesbian sex in books around then.  Let alone bi sexual.  This was at the beginning of the radical feminist movement.  For it's time, it was very pro male.

Date Posted: 4/13/2009 12:38 AM ET
Member Since: 3/21/2009
Posts: 69
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I guess I'm dating myself, this book was way before my time. :) I'm wondering now what an anti-male lesbian book would look like. I haven't read many books in this genre yet.

Date Posted: 4/13/2009 2:32 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,399
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At that time there were a large number of lesbian separatist books.  And almost no fiction.  Many of the books were very angry.  Folks felt betrayed by the way the anti war movement treated the feminists.  Rubyfruit was a joyful breathe of fresh air in the middle of alot of heavy theory and anger.  I remember reading the Scum Manifesto, Simone de Beauvoir, and Off Our Back, an early zine. 

 

Fiction wise, there is Joanna Russ.  The Female Man. While I still have my copy, I do not recommend it.  Stick to Rita Mae.



Last Edited on: 4/13/09 2:36 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/13/2009 5:05 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,537
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And all the lesbian fiction was of the same vein as Rubyfruit or more strident separatist.  In circles I hung with, it was considered too easy on men and "breeders".   Rita Mae Brown's next set of novels are really much more fun.  She (and the community in general) had lightened up alot.  Try Six of One, Southern Discomfort, etc.    An interesting series of Lez Scifi are the Holdfast Chronicles by Suzy McKee Charnas.  It also gives light to the era and the separatist thinking of the times.  

Date Posted: 4/13/2009 8:00 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,399
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Everyone was reading heavy books like Herland and Kate Chopin.  Or theory.  I was so happy with Rita Mae, Dreamsnake by Vonda McIntyre, Waterdancer by Jennifer Levin, James Tiptree, Jane Rule, and Suzy McKee Charnas.  Most of those are from the early 80's rather than the 70's.  It was a lesbian humor dead zone.   Lots of reading between the lines.   There were the pulp reprints from the 50's.  But those were only at the women's bookstores.  Which were very few and far between. 

And mention being Bi?  No way.  Political nightmare.

 

Date Posted: 4/13/2009 8:10 PM ET
Member Since: 3/21/2009
Posts: 69
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I wouldn't mention it most of the time even today. I had enough of the disdainful looks during my college experience.

I'm thankful for all the great titles ya'll have suggested. I need to add more books to my shelf. My wish list keeps getting longer and I need the credits to cover them all! lol

Date Posted: 4/14/2009 2:09 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,537
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Also, try Blue by Abigail Padgett.  I really liked this character and although I don't read much "who-dun-it" I liked this book alot.  Another author who's main characters I liked is Nicolla Griffith.  You may have already found her books.  I have enjoyed her stories about Lesbian characters without the Lez part being the main conflict of the drama.

Date Posted: 4/14/2009 8:56 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,399
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I'm not saying that Rubyfruit can compare the fictional selection that is available these days.  I'm saying that for it's time, Rubyfruit was heavenly.  My suburban hometown library had in the late 70's and early 80's 

1) the Well of Loneliness (as if we need more suicide?)

2) Simone de Beauvoir's Second Sex  (the French could mention lesbians without flipping out)

3) a bunch of theory like the feminine mystique

4) a good chunk of feminist SF including James Tiptree

5) The Yellow Wallpaper and Herland (crazy rather than suicidal)

6) Kate Chopin (very pretty suicide)

and 7) a mass market copy of Rubyfruit Jungle.

We need to remember the history.  And place books in that context.   



Last Edited on: 4/14/09 11:53 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/15/2009 3:55 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,537
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Emily,

You definitely had a big ole dyke ordering books for that library!!!!!   Our beautiful, wealthy and very modern surburban library had  librarians that  would have had heart attacks if I had requested ANY of these books in the '70's.   At one time, I had bought all of these books and have since passed them on.  That list sure brings back memories.

 



Last Edited on: 5/4/09 6:49 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 4/15/2009 8:35 PM ET
Member Since: 3/21/2009
Posts: 69
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Stop telling me about all these books!! lol My wishlist is practically overflowing at this point, and looks pretty much like its own Pride Parade. lol