The Sexist Land of Oz

As I mentioned last week, I just finished reading the last book in the Oz quartet by Greg Maguire. This prompted me to reread the first two L. Frank Baum novels in preparation for rereading all four Maguire books. Most people are familiar with the first. Less are familiar with the 2nd book. It has a number of problems.

In the second book, the Emerald City is taken over by General Jinjur. Why? “Because the Emerald City has been ruled by men long enough, for one reason. Moreover, the City glitters with beautiful gems, which might far better be used for rings, bracelets, and necklaces, and there is enough money in the King’s treasury to buy every girl in our Army a dozen new gowns. So we intend to conquer the City and run the government to suit ourselves.”

The invasion is a secret, which is surprise, because according to Jinjur “our army is composed entirely of girls, and it is surely a remarkable thing that our Revolt is not yet discovered.”

The girls only weapons are knitting needles, but they are not worried because “What man would oppose a girl, or dare harm her? And there is not an ugly face in the entire Army.”

So what do they do when they take over the city? Pry the emeralds out of the ground, and stand around and gossip all day while the men cook and clean. (At least Baum notes that the men find the work hard, and wonders how their wives do it all—they must have iron constitutions)

And what happened when Jinjur was overthrown? “At once the men of the Emerald City cast off their aprons. ANd it is said that the women were so tired of eating their husbands cooking that they all hailed the conquest of Jinjur with joy. Certain it is that, rushing one and all to the kitchens of their houses, the good wives prepared so delicious a feast for the weary men that harmony was immediately restored in every family.”

Don’t believe me? Read “The Land of Oz” by L. Frank Baum. I think I prefer Maguire’s reconception of that world. [ETA: Although I note that Maguire’s Oz has its problems as well. Not as much sexist, as there is stronger recognition of matrilineal rularship. Maguire’s Oz has more problems with political abuse of power, and mistreatment of citizens, especially Animals. I’ll also note that neither Oz is actually a democracy, with elected leaders. I’ll have more analysis on both Oz’s after I reread Maguire’s books.]