Ursula Le Guin's novel The Word for World is Forest deals with issues of power, gender, racial hierarchies, and inequality. The Terran humans, specifically Captain Davidson, see themselves as superior beings to the Athsheans (or, as they derogatorily call them, "creechies"). Davidson treats the Athsheans as animals, using them for their labor and raping the females. Davidson believes in the superiority of the Terrans, even though Athsheans are also part of the human race. He describes the other human species as "aliens," "creatures," "pets," "animals." When someone questions Davidson's treatment of the Athsheans, he responds: "But this isn’t slavery... Slaves are humans. When you raise cows, you call that slavery? No. And it works.” Davidson treats women in a similar manner. He regards women like cattle, creatures to be used by him whenever he wants for sex. Davidson's feelings of superiority lead to his mistreatment of the Athsheans, both male and female, as well as other human beings, even though in reality they are equal.
Captain Davidson Quotes:
“...Two aliens sitting and grinning, the little gray ape and the big white fairy, sneering at humans..." (Referring to other human species)
“Humanoids help humanoids, rats help rats.”
“The fact is, the only time a man is really and entirely a man is when he’s just had a woman or just killed another man… Even if the creechies weren’t actually men."
“...You’ve laid some of the females, you know how they don’t seem to feel anything, no pleasure, no pain, they just lay there like mattresses no matter what you do.”
Captain Davidson and the Terrans view the Athshean world as theirs for the taking. The Word for World is Forest allegorically represents colonization; the Terrans come to the Athshean world and destroy it, taking only the resources they want and mistreating the native people. The Athsheans value land and forests, but the Terrans destroy them. Additionally, the Terrans bring violence to the Athshean culture, which was previously entirely peaceful. The introduction of violence to a civilization is also allegorically reflective of colonization. The theme of humans mistreating the environment, other species, and other members of their own species is common across science fiction texts.
Davidson: "...This world, New Tahiti, was literally made for men."
Many of the important concepts in The Word For World is Forest carry over into other texts.