Corporate Towns v Free Towns
I loved the concept of corporate towns versus free towns in He, She and It by Marge Piercy. The story begins in the corporate town of Yakamura-Stichen, but our main character Shira is from a free town of Tikva (Piercy, p. 1-3). Shira is lonely and “constantly in minor trouble,” but in Tikva, she was, “accustomed to warm friendships with women, to men who were her pals” (p. 3).
Immediately, Piercy sets this contrast up for us. There are these huge cities where people sort of have to be, and these cities are ruled not by government consented by the people, but by corporations. Whereas, Tikva is not corporate-run. This one is actually harder for me to imagine. I don’t imagine it without anything corporate, but I don’t know how else it would be very different from our present-day cities. Perhaps not surprisingly, the corporate towns are easier to picture. Maybe that’s because we just finished reading about the OC in The Gold Coast, or maybe it’s because I am a socialist, and I don’t see us really that far from being corporate towns. In fact, one could argue that with the campaign finance structure we currently have, we are almost there (all we need is a little more transparency).
With that in mind, what I like about this contrast is that it allows us to think about how things are now, and compare it to what they could be like. We can think about what sort of “country side” towns we have now – perhaps freer from corporate influence – and compare them to say New York City. I think this gives us room for thought experimenting without the true break – or cognitive dissonance. For me, that makes it easier to read and enjoy it. The moment when it clicks might not be at the precise moment of reading, but perhaps the next time you are driving and read the billboards, see the bus wraps, or watch campaign commercials.
Piercy, Marge. He She and It. New York: Ballatine Books, 1991.