Study Guide

2001: A Space Odyssey Women and Femininity

By Arthur C. Clarke

Women and Femininity

You wouldn't think there'd be much to say about women in 2001, because there are almost no women in the entire story. The future is populated just about entirely by men, and the occasional male robot. Which seems curious. Unusual. Perhaps significant. Why only guys? What's with that? Sometimes what's left out of a book can be as important as what's left in. Is it part of progress that women disappear? Is space a place for men to be competent and women to step aside? What kind of future is it where space babies get made without women? A better one? And better for whom? We don't know about you, but we think the glaring lack of female characters reflects a troubling, dated mindset on Clarke's part.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. What role is given to the man-apes who are women? Do any of the woman-apes get made smarter by the slab? Why do you think this is?
  2. How would the novel be different if David Bowman's girlfriend had a part in the story?
  3. Are the aliens male or female or neither? Explain your answer.

Chew on This

2001 doesn't care about women.

2001 cares about women: it wants to make them disappear.

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