Study Guide

The Female Man Tough-o-Meter

By Joanna Russ

Tough-o-Meter

(8) Snow Line

Even tougher to get through than the music video for Katy Perry's "Birthday" (yeah, we went there), The Female Man is a challenging read for sure. The intersecting personalities of the omniscient narrator, Janet, Jeannine, Joanna, and Jael can be really disorienting. Sometimes it's perfectly clear who is speaking; other times, it's mud.

Dealing with four (or is it five?) protagonists who both are and aren't the same person isn't easy, especially when you're being jerked back and forth between multiple versions of the present, past, and future. But hey, all of that confusion is also what makes the novel so much fun! If you're willing to go along with things even when you're not sure what's going on, we guarantee you'll get through to the other side just fine.