Summary and book reviews of Turning On The Girls by Cheryl Benard

Turning On The Girls

A Novel

By Cheryl Benard

Turning On The Girls
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2001,
    256 pages.
    Paperback: Jul 2002,
    335 pages.

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Book Summary

It's 2000 something, the world has just been taken over by women, and things are wonderful, or at least they will be just as soon as the new rulers finish fixing things. And here's Lisa, a dedicated young employee of the new government, ready to do her part. Why does she have stacks of pornography, love stories, and romance novels on her desk? Well, that's her job! To come up with politically correct sexual fantasies for women. No more lovesick simpering, no more masochistic daydreams! Women are going to learn to be turned on by healthier, more dignified fantasies -- just as soon as Lisa can come up with some. And if you think that sounds like a fun assignment, why don't you try it. Don't tell her boss, but Lisa's pretty much totally stuck!

Fortunately, she has her trusty assistant, Justin. He's about to graduate from the Revolution's men's reeducation program, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to make this project a success. Working in the Ministry for all of these very serious ladies can wear a guy out, but Justin keeps himself entertained with a private project of his own: to investigate whether, contrary to appearances, liberated women actually do have a sense of humor.

Meanwhile, not all men are pleased with this kinder, gentler world. Harmony, a secret men's movement, is planning a violent uprising to put women back in their place. Lisa and Justin are recruited by security forces to infiltrate Harmony. Before long they find themselves in Zone Six -- where the un-reformable men reside -- on the run, trying to save the world as they know it.

Cheryl Benard's deftly comic novel gives us a chance to envision a world designed by women and to reflect on how such a world would differ from our own.

Excerpt
Turning On The Girls

Lisa returns to her office, fifteen minutes late and not very happy. Pushing aside a stack of books and slumping into the chair, she locates her prompter. She stares at her compuscreen and at the paragraph she was working on before lunch; no, it has not miraculously turned brilliant during her absence. She picks up a book from the side table; it is a copy of Pauline Réage, Story of O. Lisa throws it hard, it flies forward and hits the door. Being a paperback, it fails to make the kind of satisfying thud that a hardback would, but even so it has made a noise, and the door opens. A young man sticks his head in, inquiringly. "Coffee?" he asks.

Okay, time out, I need an introduction and I might as well put it here. The first thing you have to know is that, in my story, women have just taken over the world.

My main character is going to be Lisa, whom you have just met, and she will work for the Ministry of Thought, Department of Values and ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Publisher's Weekly

[A] rollicking good novel.... Deeper than a mere what-if fantasy, this contra-Atwoodesque social fiction may satirize political correctness, but it also manages to salute present and future feminist triumphs, albeit in roundabout fashion.... this book will succeed primarily through word of mouth, of which there will be plenty.

Kirkus Reviews

Futuristic satire with a scattershot approach Benard (Moghul Buffet, 1998) targets everything from goddess worship and holistic healing to the self-righteous excesses of 1970s-style feminism, enlivening her somewhat cerebral style with plenty of erotic snippets.

Reader Reviews
Angela

Comedic Relief!
This book is great for us older, tired feminists as well as the young daring ones, and any and all who think that we can make a better world than the one we have. So much "education" without even knowing it! Laughter is good for the soul! ...   Read More

go2yourlibrary
Our discussion about this book was really good! Half our members thought this book was hilarious--funny!! witty!! a comment on society!! The other half of the group thought it insulting, patronizing and sexist.
Character and plot certainly added to ...   Read More

go2yourlibrary
Our bookclub, Words And Flava, has decided to read this book for our August selection. We will let you know how our discussion goes!

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