My research looks for links between Sally Miller Gearhart and the Lesbian Utopian communities in Southern Oregon. The first place this took me to in the University of Oregon Archives was Gearhart’s correspondence. Letters in that collection range from fan mail to personal, to professional, and it was one of these professional letters that caught my eye.
An abortion advocacy group had written her asking for support and her response is both humorous and highly critical. She asks the semi-rhetorical question of why should she support these women who need abortions, since their need for abortions is caused by relations with men, the cause of suffering for her, as a lesbian, and so many other women? She goes on to her only slightly jesting proposition that feminist-minded woman should stop having sex with men.
This was enough to give me pause, as I believe she intended. Gearhart goes on to explain how it would disrupt the gender/power relationship in the current status quo, and, in one statement very true to her identity as a lesbian woman, she makes an offhand comment that the only real reason to have sex with a man is for the purpose of reproduction, making abortion all but unnecessary. Everything else can be fulfilled individually or with another woman.
Her idea and letter draw many parallels in my mind to “The Matter of Seggri” by Ursula Le Guin. It will be interesting to continue to learn how many minds built this idea and community of feminist science fiction.
Sally Miller Gearhart Papers, Coll 305, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.