Marge Piercy's Tale of Hope
Historically, all forms of hierarchy have always been based ultimately on gender hierarchy and on the building block of the family unit, which makes it clear that this is the true juncture between a feminist problematic and a Marxist one--not an antagonistic juncture, but the moment at which the feminist project and the Marxist and socialist project meet and face the same dilemma: how to imagine Utopia.
-- FREDRIC JAMESON, "COGNITIVE MAPPING" (355)
With He, She and It, published in the United States in 1991 and in Britain as Body of Glass in 1992, Marge Piercy joins Robinson and anticipates Butler in her critical dystopian negation of the social realities of the 1980s and early 1990s, but in doing so she supersedes Robinson's focus on a structure of feeling and Butler's alternative cultural formation. 1 Continuing her lifelong vocation as a politically engaged writer, she imaginatively traces an oppositional movement that is confrontational, militant, collective, and at least momentarily successful. Like Butler's, Piercy's dystopian elsewhere opens on a hegemonic corporate order wherein twenty-three megafirms compete with one another for profits and power in a world that is ecologically devastated. As the cockroaches of history, the corporate giants have survived war, nuclear bombs, global warming, toxic poisoning, famine, and economic collapse, and they continue to attempt mergers and takeovers that will lead to even larger entities that inherently seek to destroy or absorb their remaining competitors.
Unlike Butler with her socioreligious movement and Robinson with his rebellious individuals, Piercy crucially locates the leading edge of the anti-corporate opposition directly within the contradictory nature of the capitalist machinery of this future society. Both the workers of the urban sprawl called the Glop and the cybernetic designers of the free town of Tikva exist in the tenuous gap between