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Feminist utopia is a type of social science fiction. Usually, a feminist utopia novel envisions a world in stark contrast to patriarchal society. Feminist utopia imagines a society without gender oppression, envisioning a future or an alternate reality where men and women are not stuck in traditional roles of inequality. These novels are often set in worlds where men are entirely absent.
Often, a feminist science fiction novel is more of a dystopia. Dystopic science fiction imagines a world gone terribly wrong, exploring the most extreme possible consequences of current society's problems. In a feminist dystopia, the inequality of society or oppression of women is exaggerated or intensified to highlight the need for change in contemporary society.
Explosion of a Subgenre
There was a great increase in feminist utopian literature during the second-wave feminism of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Feminist science fiction is often seen as more concerned with societal roles and power dynamics than the technological advances and space travel of “typical” science fiction.
Early feminist utopias:
- City of Ladies by Christine de Pizan
- Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Contemporary feminist utopia novels:
- Works by Marge Piercy
- The Wanderground by Sally Miller Gearhart
Feminist dystopia novels:
- Walk to the End of the World by Suzy McKee Charnas
- The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
There are also many books, such as Joanna Russ' The Female Man, that explore both utopia and dystopia.