Study Guide

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress Women and Femininity

By Robert Heinlein

Women and Femininity

Oh boy, here we go. The issue of ladies and femininity in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress—or any Heinlein novel for that matter—makes for a debate that can include thoughtful analysis, forum flame wars, and everything in-between. Some people think Heinlein's female characters are often put in the background, but believe they play important roles and are strong characters all the same, while others think Heinlein attempts to imagine women's liberation but doesn't quite figure it out. Still others see Heinlein as playing a shell game with the novel's female characters, claiming they are independent when in practice they are anything but. What do you think?

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. Read the reviews of Heinlein's works linked to above. Which analysis do you see as best fitting the novel? Why? Which do you least agree with? Why?
  2. Do you see women in Luna society as exhibiting the same power in society as their male counterparts? Why or why not? Give examples, please.
  3. The line marriage is seen as beneficial to women in Luna society. Do you agree with this idea? Why or why not? Turn to the text to support.

Chew on This

Even in its title, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress fails to recognize women as truly autonomous beings—mistress is a relational term, after all.

Timing is everything, and if The Moon is a Harsh Mistress comes up short on the feminism front, this is only because it was written in 1965, when women's lib was a much newer phenomenon.

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