Petticoat Government (1896)

The following excerpts from Max O’Rell’s 1896 article Petticoat Government treat of women’s domination in home and society in the United States of America. The article shows women’s influence over both culture and government legislation via political activism – PW

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Women’s Political Influence

The women of good society in America are what they are everywhere else, satisfied with their lot which consists in being the adored goddesses of refined households; but there exists in this country, among the middle (or in European parlance, lower-middle) classes restless, bumptious, ever poking-their-noses-everywhere women who are slowly, but surely and safely, transforming this great land of liberty into a land of petty, fussy tyranny, and trying, often with complete success, to impose on the community fads of every shape and form.

If there is one country in the world where the women appear, in the eyes of the foreign visitor, to enjoy all manner of privileges and to have the men in leading strings, that country is America. You would imagine, therefore, that America should be the last country where the “new woman” was to be found airing her grievances. Yet she is flourishing throughout the length and breadth of this huge continent. She is petted by her husband, the most devoted and hard-working of husbands in the world; she is literally covered with precious stones by him. She is allowed to wear hats that would “fetch” Paris in Carnival time, or start a panic at a Corpus-Christi procession in Paris or a Lord-Mayor’s Show in London. She is the superior of her husband in education, and almost in every respect. She is surrounded by the most numerous and delicate attentions. Yet she is not satisfied.

The Anglo-Saxon “new woman” is the most ridiculous production of modern times and destined to be the most ghastly failure of the century. She is par excellence the woman with a grievance, and self-labelled the greatest nuisance of modern society. The new woman wants to retain all the privileges of her sex and secure, besides, all those of man. She wants to be a man and to remain a woman. She will fail to become a man, but she may succeed in ceasing to be a woman.

Teetotaler Politics

I think that of all the grand fads indulged in by some women in America the palm should be given to the compulsory water-drinking work. That is a colossal illustration of what women can do when left entirely to their own resources.

Now, I will lay down as a sort of principle that the “temperance” woman and the teetotaler are not to be found in refined society, and I don’t think that in saying so, I shall run the risk of being contradicted. I have often been a guest at the Union Club, the Union League Club, the Manhattan, the Century, the Players, and many other good clubs, I have dined in the best houses of the great American cities, and nowhere have I met teetotalers in those circles of society. Refined, intelligent people of good society, artists, literary men are not teetotalers; that will be granted by everybody. I don’t mention politicians, even of the best class, who have at times to be teetotalers to catch votes in a democracy.

The smaller towns of America – and that is America proper – are ruled by fussy, interfering faddists, fanatics of all sorts, old women of both sexes, shrieking cockatoos that will by-and-by make life well-nigh intolerable to any man of self-respect and make him wonder whether he lives in a free country or not.

The Mayor’s Wife

Take two lively illustrations. A few months ago I was in the town of E. (Kansas). There was a mayor who was married, and the happy pair had a little boy. That little boy was a wicked little boy. One day he was caught smoking a cigarette. Now what should be done by sensible parents to such a wicked little boy? Why, he should be turned over and given a good hearty – you know! This is not at all what was done. The mayor’s wife called up a meeting of women, made a violent speech on the pernicious habit of cigarette smoking, and it was decided to petition the mayor and ask him to forbid the sale of cigarettes within the precincts of his jurisdiction. For the sake of peace and happiness at home, the worthy mayor published an edict prohibiting the sale of cigarettes in his district. However, cigarettes can be had in the town of E., but you have to walk nearly a mile, just outside the limits of the mayor’s jurisdiction, to find a store where a roaring trade in cigarettes is done. All the same, you must admit that it is a nuisance to be obliged to walk a mile, in a free country, to buy a little article of luxury that you indulge in, without ever abusing it, because there happens to be in the town a wicked little boy that once smoked a cigarette.

Women’s Temperance Society Activism

When I was in the town of T. (Arkansas), only a few weeks ago, I gave a lecture under the auspices of “temperance” ladies of the city. They called on me.

Being of a rather inquisitive turn of mind, I said to them: “Now, ladies, I understand I am in a prohibition State. How do you account for your existence? Do you wish now to advocate the suppression of tea, coffee and icewater, which, I must say, would go a long way toward improving the complexion and the digestive apparatus of your fellow-creatures?”

“No,” they said; “we find that, in spite of the law, there is liquor, wine and beer still sold in this town, and we want to put a stop to it.”

Temperance_MovementI knew that such was the case, for I had, proh pudor! a bottle of lager beer in my pocket which I had bought for my dinner, but which, I am glad to say, was not discovered by the ladies under the auspices of whom I was to lecture in the evening. I can do with ice-water, but in a prohibition State I cannot. The evil spirit prompts me. I must have beer or wine with my meals. I have never been drunk in my life; but if I ever get drunk, it will be in a prohibition State.

“Well,” said the lady president of the temperance society of the town of T., “could you believe that, a few days ago, a poor woman of the town and her children actually died of starvation, while every day her husband got drunk with the wages he received?”

“But,” I mildly suggested, “you should see that that man was punished, not the innocent population of this town. Don’t suppress the wine, which is a gift of God: punish – suppress, even, if you like – the drunkard. It is not wine that makes a man drunk, it is vice. Don’t suppress the wine, suppress the vice, or the vicious. Imprison a drunkard, lynch him, hang, shoot him, quarter him, do what you like with him, but allow hundreds of good, wise, temperate people, who would use wine in moderation, to indulge in a habit that makes men moderate, cheerful and happy.”

My argument was lost on them.

Every year there are men who use knives to stab fellow-creatures; but there are millions who use their knives to eat their meals peacefully with. The law punishes the criminals, but would not think of suppressing the knives.

Any law is bad that punishes, injures, or annoys thousands of good, innocent people in order to stop the mischief done by a few – a very few, after all – blackguards and scoundrels.

These Christian ladies left me certainly unconverted, and took their revenge by not paying me my fee after the lecture, which confirmed me in my firm resolution never to have anything to do with angels – this side of the grave.

The Anglo-Saxon should by all means preach temperance, which means moderation, not total abstinence. What they preach overreaches the mark and does no good. When you say that a country enjoys a temperate climate, that does not mean that it has no climate at all, but enjoys a moderate one, neither too hot nor too cold.

These same Anglo-Saxons should not despise, but admire and envy, those who can enjoy, like men of understanding, like gentlemen, the glorious gifts of God to man without ever making fools of themselves. For these, the law should be made.

If your husband or son, dear lady, would like to have a glass of wine or beer with his dinner, let him have it in your sweet and wholesome presence. Don’t make a hypocrite of him. Don’t compel him to go and hide himself in his club or, worse, in a saloon, or, worse still, don’t allow him to go and lose his manhood’s dignity by crawling on all fours under the counter of a drug-store.

There is no virtue in compulsion. There is virtue only in liberty.

Ah! how I remember admiring, in the hot days of blue-ribbonism in England, that free Briton I once met who had a yellow ribbon in his button hole.

“What’s that you have on?” I said to him.
“That’s a yellow ribbon,” he replied. “I belong to the yellow ribbon army.”
“Ah, and what is it the yellow-ribbon army do?” I inquired.
“What do we do?” he said, “Why, we eat what we likes, we drink what we likes and we don’t care a — for nobody.”

 
There are well-meaning, most highly estimable and talented ladies who go about the world preaching temperance, that is to say, total abstinence, not moderation.

Now, as a rule, these ladies have special reasons for so doing. Very often they have led a life of sorrow and misery with wretched husbands, and they should be pitied. But hundreds of thousands of women have good husbands who have not to be cured of habits which they never in their lives indulged in, and who would be condemned to deny themselves every little luxury that helps make life cheerful when used with moderation and discretion, if the preachings of these often unfortunate ladies were to take the shape of laws.

I have often had to listen to self-confessed, reformed drunkards who preached to me who never was once drunk in my life. The thing is ludicrous.

There exist, among the Anglo-Saxons, people to whom the strains of Wagner and Beethoven’s music say absolutely nothing, to whom the Venus of Milo is indecent. They declare music and the fine arts immoral, and if they had their way, they would close the concert halls and the museums on every day of the week. Because their minds are distorted, foul and even dirty, they would condemn people with lofty and artistic minds to never hear a masterpiece of music or behold a masterpiece of painting or statuary. I have met people who declared they would never again set foot inside the walls of the Louvre and of the British Museum. And if the Anglo-Saxon fanatics, those arch enemies of art, make a little more progress, the future of that great Institution, the British Institution, is not safe.

As everybody knows, there exist, in Great Britain and in America, thousands of people who declare the stage to be a most wicked and immoral institution. I have on the subject a rather pleasant reminiscence which illustrates how the Anglo-Saxons can combine the spirit of morality with the spirit of business. I once gave a lecture, in a town of some twenty thousand inhabitants in the State of Kansas, under the auspices of a society of lady reformers. They had engaged the Opera House for the occasion. I arrived at the theatre a few minutes after eight. The ladies in charge were in the ticket-office pocketing money as fast as they could. To my great gratification there was an immense house, which was due, no doubt, far more to the popularity of the ladies’ philanthropic cause than to my own modest personality. When the crowd was in and seated, I asked to be led to the stage, and I said to the lady president of the society: “I suppose you have your seats reserved.” “No,” she replied, “I have not. I don’t think I will go in, if you will excuse me. I am proud to say that I have never once in my life set foot inside a theatre.” I literally collapsed. There were in that theatre some twelve hundred people whom these good ladies had induced to “sin” to fill the coffers of their society.

All these movements, headed by women, are in the wrong direction. They interfere with the liberties of a great people, and punish thousands and thousands of good, orderly, well-behaved people, to reach a score or two of bad ones, whom they often fail to reach and of tener still fail to cure. I repeat it, there are many hundreds of good people in this world for a very few hundreds of bad ones. The laws should aim at reaching the former and protecting them. This world is considerably better than the fanatics of all denominations and superstitions would make us believe. For eleven years, I have travelled all over the world, and I have never met any but honorable people to deal with. For instance, I have given 1,272 lectures in my life, and only once dil I come across a man who behaved dishonestly toward me. He ran away with the cash while I was speaking.

Yes, the world is good, very good, in spite of the calumnies that are constantly hurled at its face by the Pharisees of Anglo-Saxondom. Yes, full of good men, crammed with good women, and the excellent ladies of the Philanthropic societies of America should take it for granted that there are many, many good and virtuous people besides themselves.

You don’t cut down an apple tree because there are two or three bad apples on it. You cut down the two or three bad apples, and all your efforts tend to see that the hundreds of good ones are made healthy, happy, and comfortable.

Max O’Rell

Gynarchy by proxy

 

“Gynarchy refers to government by women, or women-centered government.”
Cassandra Langer

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In his groundbreaking work The Myth of Male Power, Warren Farrell explains how men have traditionally striven to institute women-centered government by acting as women’s proxy agents in the political sphere. This behaviour, explains Farrell, is based on the chivalrous tradition of male servicing of women’s needs. The following are passages from Farrell’s book explaining how gynarchy by proxy works:

“Doesn’t the fact that almost all legislators are men prove that men are in charge and can choose when to and when not to look out for women’s interests? Theoretically, yes. But practically speaking the American legal system cannot be separated from the voter. And in the 1992 Presidential election , 54 percent of the voters were female, 46 percent were male. (Women’s votes outnumber men’s by more than 7 million). Overall, a legislator is to a voter what a chauffeur is to the employer – both look like they’re in charge but both can be fired if they don’t go where they’re told. When legislators do not appear to be protecting women, it is almost always because women differ on what constitutes protection. (For example, women voted almost equally for Republicans and Democrats during the combination of the four presidential elections prior to Clinton).

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“The Government as Substitute Husband did for women what labor unions still have not accomplished for men. And men pay dues for labor unions; the taxpayer pays the dues for feminism. Feminism and government soon become taxpayer-supported women’s unions. The political parties have become like two parents in a custody battle, each vying for their daughter’s love by promising to do the most for her. How destructive to women is this? We have restricted humans from giving “free” food to bears and dolphins because we know that such feeding would make them dependent and lead to their extinction. But when it comes to our own species, we have difficulty seeing the connection between short-term kindness and long-term cruelty: we give women money to have more children, making them more dependent with each child and discouraging them from developing the tools to fend for themselves. The real discrimination against women, then, is “free feeding.”

Ironically, when political parties or parents compete for females’ love by competing to give it, the result is not gratitude but entitlement. And the result should not be gratitude, because the political party, like the needy parent, becomes unconsciously dependent on keeping the female dependent. Which turns the female into “the other” — the person given to, not the equal participant. In the process, it fails to do what is every parent’s and every political party’s job — to raise an adult, not maintain a child.
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But here’s the rub. When the entitled child has the majority of the votes, the issue is no longer whether we have a patriarchy or a matriarchy — we get a victimarchy. And the female-as-child genuinely feels like a victim because she never learns how to obtain for herself everything she learns to expect. Well, she learns how to obtain it for herself by saying “it’s a woman’s right” — but she doesn’t feel the mastery that comes with a lifetime of doing it for herself. And even when a quota includes her in the decision-making process, she still feels angry at the “male dominated government” because she feels both the condescension of being given “equality” and the contradiction of being given equality. She is still “the other.” So, with the majority of the votes, she is both controlling the system and angry at the system.”

Gynarchy in the home and family:

“When we say we lived in a patriarchy, we think of living under a male dominated government or power structure. We forget that the family had at least as much power as the government in people’s everyday life, and that the family was female dominated. We forget that it too was a power structure. As we have seen, though, almost every woman had a primary role in the female-dominated family structure; only a small percentage of men had a primary role in the male-dominated governmental and religious structures. Although a man’s home was more likely to be his mortgage than his castle, it has always been a characteristic of men that they give lip service to their dominance even as another part of them is aware of their subservience… Male dominated house
Source: The Myth of Male Power, by Warren Farrell

See also:
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Petticoat government (1702)

1702_cover“Examine the nature of Petticoat Government and you’ll find small difference or, if any, the Woman excells the man. For the Woman is justly called ‘The Crown of the Creation,’ for if we look into Genesis we shall find that Woman was the last work in the creation and therefore the most perfect and absolute; as we see when artisans make an excellent piece they keep polishing till the last, as being the perfection and crown of it all. But reader, I have only here given some few glances and shadows of the glory and magesty that attends Pettycoats; to know it better you must view our Gracious Queen in Her person and conduct; Her heart is entirely English; she was made purposely for our crown and scepter; Her very looks and countenance would command our allegiance; the very cast of Her eye would sufficiently persuade us that Her authority is just and deserved, that it is a suitable power that is in the mind and meaning of providence and, in a word, is nothing more than God or Nature intended: that women should govern as well as the men… But virtue and greatness are of the perfection and essence of Pettycoat Government, and complete Her Magisties character.

“I am of the opinion that men can boast of no endowments of the mind which Women possess not in as great, if not greater eminency. There has been no age or nation that has not produced some females renown’d for their wisdom and virtue. Which makes me conclude that the conversation of Women is no less useful than pleasant; and that when they govern the men are extremely happy.

“Now it may be necessary that governors should be of good entertainment, affable, open of countenance, and such as seem to harbour no crooked or dark design; thus no men can be so fit for government as Women are. For besides their natural sweetness and innocency, their talk is commonly directed to such things, as it may be easily inferr’d, that their heads are not troubled about making of wars, enlarging of empires, or founding of tyrannies. How few men-prophets do histories afford us in comparison to prophetesses? And, even at this day, who are such absolute followers of priests as women are? If you wish them merciful, these are the tenderest things on earth; they have tears at command, and if tears be the effect of pity and compassion, ans pity and compassion be the mother of virtue, must we not think that mercy rules most in them, and is the soonest obtain’d from them? If you wish affection to the country, where can you better have it? For have not Women many times cut off their hairs to make ropes for engines, and strings for bows?

Thus, were this noble sex restored to that right which nature hath bestowed on it, we have all quiet and serenity in the commonwealths, and courts would not taken up with factions and underminings, but all flow into pleasure and liberty. Withal, we know how necessary it is in every statesman to be master of all the artifices and sleights that may be, to gain upon them he deals with. Now, if any can be fitter for this than Women, I am much deceiv’d: for what by their importunities, glances, trains, sleights, ambushes, and little infidelities, it is as impossible to escape them as it is to go into the fire and not get burnt. For my own part, were I to marry, a good wife should govern both my person and purse, my time and everything; and for this reason a rich Milanois was wont to say that the strings of his purse were never so hard tied that his Betty had no chance tio loose’ em.

We must therefore conclude that as women bring forth children into the world, as they multiply themselves into these visible and corpereal souls, and after they have brought them forth, and most tender and careful to bring them up; so it is most fitting, having such pre-eminencies and indulgences of Nature, that when they are brought up, they should also have a government of them: For a potter would think it hard measure if, after the pitcher were made, it should fly in his face. And (which is no small honour to Petticoat Government) the Woman excelleth the man in respect of the matter of which she was made, which was not dead and vile clay, as man’s was, but a purified substance enliven’d and endu’d with soul, participating in the Divine Mind.

“Thus have I fairly prov’d there is no creature so perfect, no wonder so to be admired as WOMAN: And Ladies, God hath heaped all these graces on your beautiful sex to the end that every creature might stand amazed at you, love and obey you; as we see by experience that incorporeal spirits doat upon Women with most ardent affections – which is such an approved truth that none, I think, would deny it. And if Women were such angels both in body and mind, and Petticoat Government such a particular and extraordinary blessing, (as all must own that we are govern’d by a Queen whose royal virtues exceeds all I have said in praise of her sex) I wonder at the unnatural fancy of such people as would wish we might procreate like trees, as if they were ashamed of the act, without which they had never been capable of such an extravagant thought. Certainly, he that created us, has riveted the Love of Women in the very center of our natures.

“So that ’tis clear from what I’ve said (of the excellency and pre-eminence of Ruling Women) that government is the rudder which steers the great vessel of the State; and that Petticoat Government is the most dextrous handling of that rudder; and for that reason ’tis only WOMEN that are now pray’d for in our churches and chapels viz. Her Perfect Majesty the Queen Dowager and the Princess Sophia.

But i shan’t only confine my essay to Petticoat Government as in respects of the public; for I design a more general essay upon Petticoat Government however dignify’d or distinguished:

1. Then, by Petticoat Government I mean when good women ascend the throne and rule according to law, as is the case of the perfect Queen.
2. Again by Petticoat Government, I mean the descreet and housewifely Ruling of house and family.
3. And lastly, by Petticoat Government, I mean when bad women usurp all authority over their husbands, as is the case with shrews, and such as command, and (perhaps) Beat their husbands, for which there is often a riding, as I shall shew in a variety of instances

“But now, Ladies (except in your own houses) where shall I find any Women so regular as to follow these rules of government? A She-governor thus accomplish’d is like a star with five rays; devotion, modesty, chastity, siscretion, and charity; such women whose whole composition is made up of these, seem to have moulded upon the celestian globes by the hands of cherubims; so excellent are their virtues and so sweet their deportments. They are in their houses as the sun in its proper sphere. Should I attempt to represent their worth, i might sooner find poverty in the center of all the rich ore and precious-stones of the earth, than want of merit in them; but more especially in that Gracious Princess who now governs: And as in former times the tyranny of the Danes was suppress’d by the wisdom and courage of our English Women, so ’tis not doubted but the matchless conduct of our Gracious Queen, will humble the pride of France.

“But to return again to our Private Governess, it must be confess’d that there are many who every day (instead of discreet and housewifely Ruling of their house and family) must be dres’d up like idols as if they intended to be worshipp’d, or at least to govern (as Maintenon does -the tyrant of France) with a look or nod. Their fill de chambre, have more to do in attending their beauties than some have in fitting and rigging out the Navy! Their glass with studied advantages takes up the whole morning, and the afternoon is spent in visits. It was therefore a true saying of one very applicable to this purpose; I know not what may be reserved for the eyes of the chaste husband, when almost thro’ all the matkets where they go, the secret parts of his wife’s body are expos’d, as if they were ready to be delivered to the best bidder.

Ladies, having treated of Petticoat Government as it relates to women in public capacity; and in a private capacity as it relates to the hosewifely ruling of the house and family: I should next treat of Petticoat Government as it relates to bad women who usurp an authority over their husbands (as is the case of shrews, such as command and (perhaps) Beat ’em) but this is intended for a second Pert of Petticoat Government. Thus (Ladies) have I set Petticoat Government in a true light, that the men might see what reason they have to LOVE and OBEY you. ‘Tis true, I have not us’d any gay or painted language, but plain and simple… I have therefore study’d to treat your sex, without the dressing of any artificial handsomeness or auxiliary beauty. If you like it, smile upon it; if not, draw the curtain of your charity over it, and let it lie till some abler pen-man shall take pencil in hand. Or if (Ladies) you’ll condescend too far, as to inrich my poor performance with your Noble Patronage ’tis the greatest preferment I dare expect; for, Court Ladies are incarnate angels, and move in a sphere above me: Yet when I consider that no present, of what value soever, can be suitable to one of your illustrious character, it gives me encouragement to hope this trifle may not be less acceptable to your matchless goodness. But twere profaneness in me any longer to divert with my rude pen, your divine thoughts and precious moments, that are still employed in imploring blessings for your Royal Mistress, and the whole nation. Then seeing the chief thing in greatness, is the power it gives to oblige, I shall presume so far as to subscribe my self:

 

Ladies,

Your Ever Obedient, and

Most Humble Servant,

Post-Angel

God Save the Queen.

Source: Petticoat-Government in a Letter to the Court Lords by the Author of the Post-Angel (1702)

Gynotopia

Gynotopia: Love, Peace and Kill All The Men

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Often all-female worlds are imagined as Utopias. The details of the Utopia vary, but the idea that a world without men would be a Utopia recurs again and again in literature throughout the centuries. Neither is the idea entirely fiction, as we see from modern examples where feminists literally call for the extermination of part or all of the male population; a fantasy that does not occur in the reverse.[1][2]

In the decades before World War II, gynotopias tended towards the Utopian. In the 50’s, the “Love-Starved Amazons In Outer Space” genre was created. The 60’s and 70’s spawned two new, closely related gynotopian genres. One was a feminist utopian school, different from the older utopian novels in its bitterness towards men. The other might be termed “backlash fiction”; written by men, these novels featured monstrous Amazons ruthlessly murdering men by the bushel. In many of these stories of both camps, a plague or war lowers the number of males and a handful of highly intelligent, strong-willed women decide to seize power for themselves, and they know they have to make sure there are few or no males if they want to hold on to it.

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The Book of The City of Ladies
by Christine de Pizan.

Aside from classical myths describing tribes of Amazons, the first serious attempt at dreaming up a gynotopic society comes from protofeminist Christine de Pizan in the Middle Ages (c.1405). The storyline proposes that a city be constructed entirely by women – one that will be ruled entirely by women, every one of whom is virtuous, chaste and pure. Christine inserts herself into the story as its most suitable ruler, as she is the wisest, and most chaste and pure of all women. Christine’s city presents and shelters women as goddesses. Like Pygmalion, who was uninterested in real women, she sculpts the perfect female so that men can worship the illusion. In this sense Christine was very much a traditionalist attempting to uphold and entrench all the privileges enjoyed by her gender since chivalric love had been introduced. For a longer essay discussing this author and her book see Christine de Pizan: the first gender warrior.

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►Mizora: a World of Women
by Mary E. Bradley Lane

Mizora, published in 1880 is an all-female Utopian novel full of murderous ideologies hauntingly remniscent of Nazism. In this Utopia a disinterest in sex is maintained, but the women wear beautiful and elaborate clothes. Instead of agrarian subsistence, Mizora is technologically highly advanced; they synthesize most of their food from minerals, have cured most diseases, have flying machines, and their parthenogenesis takes place in a laboratory. Their planned economy, unlike every planned economy in real life, has created great prosperity for all. Everybody is blonde and blue-eyed. The Nazis did not invent their “master race” theory all by themselves; in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, not only did many people take the pseudoscience of eugenics seriously, but there was a widely held theory that blue-eyed blonds were the highest type of human. The theory is discussed in depth in Joanna Pitman’s fascinating book On Blondes.

Bees in Paradise by Marriott Edgar

In this early (1944) and more lighthearted example of this genre Arthur Tucker and a few other men are shipwrecked on an island whose sole visible population is beautiful young women. (Like Wonder Woman’s home, it is called Paradise Island.) Men apparently exist, though we never see any of them; all the important work is done by women, who rule this society completely. However, their birth rate is dangerously low, and to their bafflement they are unable to induce men to marry them – which, since the movie was made in 1944, is the only way they can get pregnant. It does not occur to them that their policy of executing all husbands two months after the wedding might have something to do with it.
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The Day of the Women by Pamela Kettle

The back cover of this British pulp novel really says it better than I possibly could:

A female Prime Minister… human stud farms run by women… mass rallies at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the day of the dominating women… all this and more in a take-over bid of the Seventies that turns to high-heeled fascism, a dictatorship of unbridled power lust. A female elite has taken over England. Led by their ‘mother’, the sleek Diana Druce, they perform an economic miracle – and put the jackboot through the idea that women are the weaker sex. Author Pamela Kettle paints, in mercilessly naked detail, a picture of the near future that is not only possible, but probable…

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The Sex War by Sam Merwin, Jr.; also available via Kindle as The White Widows

Merlin’s1953 science fiction novel in which a chemist researching hemophilia becomes a pawn for ‘The White Widows, ‘ a group of women who intend to take over the world — and eliminate all men!

This one is about a conspiracy of genetically superior women who want to take over the world and, once they have the technology to reproduce without them, do away with men entirely. Notice the blood on the lower abdomen of the man in the background. I don’t recall any castration in the novel, but the cover’s implication is pretty darn clear.

Elseworlds: Created Equal

World without men
In this graphic novel, all the men in the DC universe die of a plague… except for Superman and Lex Luthor. The author apparently couldn’t figure out whether to be male chauvinist or female chauvinist. This is a sterling example of how many interesting psychological complexes bubble up as soon as people start writing about gynotopias. Futuristic all-female world in which one male is made as an experiment. This falls into the category of satire against radical feminism. Without men, the world becomes a stagnant dictatorship, although in this novel, the dictatorship functions reasonably even if it is dull, unlike in real life, where dictatorships are full of unrest and don’t tend to last long.

“Well, who wants men, anyway?” she said with an attempt at nonchalance that didn’t quite come off. Crinila smiled in the darkness. “Why, nobody, Lycia darling. Not even the men themselves will want men. All they will ever want is women.”

The Holdfast Chronicles by Suzy McKee Charnas

The gynotopian “female planet” has also been shown up as everything from well-meant nonsense to hateful rage, and Miss Charnas’s series is no exception. She claims not to hate men, but when you read her fictional history of how those nasty men destroyed the earth, killed off most of our species in massive wars, and then enslaved all women, even contemplating raising women for food, it’s kind of hard to believe her. (Incidentally, Miss Charnas vehemently opposes the current wars in the Middle East that have unseated dictatorships which treat women almost this badly, and of course similarly opposes Western civilization, in which women have been better treated than in any other society in history.)!B8lD!YwBGk~$(KGrHqF,!hsEzMS6Kl1GBM3bsrfbdw~~0_12

Facing dwindling reproduction, the men devised a procedure by which genetically altered women could be fertilized by horse sperm. Aside from the scientific improbability, I found this rather interesting, since according to Greek legend, horses were extremely important to Amazons – many Amazon names incorporate the Greek word for “horse” – and there were predictable jokes and speculation that their horses took the place of men in, ah, various ways. I don’t know if the parallel is deliberate. In any case, able to reproduce without men (because of technological advances made by men), these women escaped and became roving Amazons. This leads to the most worthwhile book in the series, The Furies, which Miss Charnas says upset many readers who were hoping for a more conventional feminist fantasy about how everything turns into fluffy bunnies without any of those big bad men around. Instead these Riding Women become just as brutal to men as men had been to them. This makes The Furies the most realistic novel out of the series; an hour of reading child abuse case histories will eradicate any notion that women are not capable of being violent or cruel.
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The final novel, The Conqueror’s Child, centers on the daughter of a hero of the Riding Women – a daughter who she abandoned as soon as she was born, following the model of real-life feminists. The story is about how the matriarchy finally wipes out the patriarchy for good, and how some women were magnanimous enough to allow some men to live. Miss Charnas claims to envision a society where the sexes are genuinely equal and both have all human options open to them, but her own story belies this: “The sponsorship of men and boys is a way of providing them with what amounts to a family of sharemothers, who show them how decent people behave and require that they themselves do so,” Miss Charnas burbles happily, describing this as “an alternative to enslaving the men or keeping them permanently on the stick”. We are asked to believe, in defiance of all of human history, that the men submit to this. I do not have the space here to dispute Miss Charnas’s definition of “decent behavior”, but I will point out that apparently killing or enslaving men is not excluded from it. But we can hardly expect the author to have a realistic view of human nature when we see in what denial she is about animals: “Any fool can see what makes a reasonable society by looking at who rules a band of horses or a flock of goats.” Please pause for a moment to digest that sentence. She is asking us to take four-legged grass-eating animals as a model for government. I think “fool” is the right word here. She continues, “Despite noisy male pantomime of mastery, the chief invariably turns out to be the queen doe or the lead mare, not the randy, hysterical buck or the stallion with the arched neck and rolling eyes.” Gracious, she does hate the menfolk, doesn’t she? Well, I have never studied horses, goats or deer, but I have invested considerable time into studying our close relatives the apes, and male dominance is universal among them.stormquest_567

Stormquest is a 1987 sword-and-sandals B movie. The nations of Kimbia, which has no men, and Ishtan, which keeps men as slaves, are at war. Add to the mix Ishtan men who are rebelling to demand equality with women and Kimbian women who were condemned for liking the men they bred with. The treatment of men by Ishtans is quite appalling, though to be fair the Ishtan queen is almost as cruel to her female subjects as her male slaves. In a female-ruled society where men are kept solely for breeding, two women come to believe that their society’s treatment of men is wrong, and lead them in a revolt against the system.

Whoever made this movie seems to have had some pretty big Issues. Not on DVD, but the entire movie can be viewed in segments on a certain free video site.

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In City of Women by David Ireland, men have been banished from Sydney, Australia, but still run amok outside the city.
Dustjacket synopsis:

“The city of women is love, Billie Shockley says.
“But in the city of women that is her world, love takes strange forms.
“The city is Sydney, from its familiar streets and gardens men have been banished. Their existence still threatens its precincts and Old Man Death moves rapaciously and relentlessly among its citizens.
“Billie observes them – their hedonism, rivalry, passions, cruelty, power, fragility. Reflecting her own anguish at the loss of love and youth, they suffer brutality and decay.
“But, she tells her gentle leopard, she will never admit it’s all over.

“City of Women is David Ireland’s most recent novel. It follows his highly acclaimed A Woman of the Future, which in 1979 won for him, for the third time, Australia’s most prestigious literary prize, the Miles Franklin Award, shared the Age Book of the Year Award for 1980, and has become a best-seller.

gendergenocide“Gender Genocide” also published as Who Needs Men? by Edmund Cooper

A masterpiece of sexism. Fascist Lesbian Amazons have wiped out almost all of the men on earth and are working on the few remaining. The Amazons reproduce by cloning. The heroine, Rura Alexandra, is a First-Class Exterminator of men… until she meets one, is raped by him, falls deeply in love with him, gets pregnant and follows her man to the ends of the earth.

“Rura spent her days learning to forget that she had ever been an exterminator, learning to become a woman. It was an exciting process. It was as if she were peeling away a superficial persona and discovering something quite different underneath…. She learned to sing the old songs that Diarmid loved, to do the things that would please him; she learned when to be passive and when to take the initiative, and how to respond to excite him. She began to feel proud of her swollen breasts and swollen belly. These were the outward and visible signs of the true nature of womanhood.”

You know, I’m all in favor of heterosexuality (when it’s practiced by heterosexuals, that is), but the above inspires me to date myself by reviving a phrase of my adolescence: “Gag me with a spoon.”ammonite

Ammonite by Nicola Griffith

“In Ammonite… the attempts to colonize the planet Jeep have uncovered a selective virus that kills all men and all but a few women. The remaining women undergo changes that enable them to communicate with one another and the planet itself, and give to birth to healthy, genetically diverse children.”

Retreat: As It Was by Donna J. Young

This novel is set in the distant past when there were no men, just women who lived in peace and harmony. They all fly around in spaceships being sisterly (and occasionally more) and understanding of each other, mystically in tune with nature and growing spiritually and all that stuff. Then a radiation mutation causes: “You and all the women on the Eulalia suffered a slight change in one chromosome. One tiny leg of an X was chopped off. The effect on Jarre and all their offspring…” well, you get the idea. They mutated into men, and that was when all the trouble began. If you believe that the world would become a paradise if there were no Y chromosomes in it, this book is for you.

Wanderground by Sally Miller Gearheart

You know it’s going to be a bad book when you flip through it and find made-up words like “earthtouch”. These women live in “the Hills”, that is, out in the wilderness, where they talk to trees, live in perfect peace with each other and are far more in touch with their feelings than anybody ought to be. Not far away a normal (that is, with men and women) society lives in a place called “the City”. Naturally the City is a horrible place full of technology and competition where nobody talks to trees. In the very first chapter the author tells us that men are just too full of hate and violence to be fit to live and just need to die out, which these compassionate, in-touch-with-nature kindly and compassionately watch them do. Female man

The Female Man by Joanna Russ

The virulent hatred of men exhibited by feminists who boast endlessly about how compassionate and nurturing they are is the most tiresome thing about feminist-Utopian gynotopias. This badly written and ideologically asinine novel has for some mysterious reason garnered wide acclaim. Among the author’s embittered potshots at the male gender are a scene in which a man (a Marine, of course) consults a book called WHAT TO DO IN EVERY SITUATION when a woman rejects his advances and follows its instructions: insult her and “Girl backs down – cries – manhood vindicated.” Gee, real subtle there.

When It Changed by Joanna Russ

Science fiction story. Centuries ago, a plague killed all the male members of a space colony. Since then, women have carried on, living in Lesbian relationships and reproducing by egg fusion. They’re doing fine until an Earth ship full of males lands. Naturally the nasty males have caused Earth to have nuclear war and all those other bad things that Whileaway doesn’t have, and the patronizing men compulsively assure the women that “sexual equality has been re-established on Earth”. Written by a Lesbian-feminist, it’s male chauvinist in a kind of backhanded way; though the women of Whileaway hunt big game and fight duels and are generally quite capable of looking out for themselves, all the tall, strong, confident men have to do is swagger in and the women of Whileaway instantly feel themselves intimidated and outclassed.104344

The Gate To Women’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper

This is a space colony that has lost contact with Earth in which men and women live separately. The women have cooperation and harmony and nurturing while the men are mean old Warriors, though there’s not actually anyone else to fight with. Little boys are sent to live with the warriors at the age of five, where the men corrupt them into being horrible violent monsters, which would never happen if they stayed with their mothers. The main characters also spend some time with another society which practices a religion which is an obvious cypher for Christianity. It’s equally obvious that the author hates Christianity; the occupants of Holyland, who worship the All-Father, are ignorant and dirty and constantly beat their women and are terrified of the thought of anybody enjoying sex. Oddly enough, no matter how often the enemies of Christianity promote this image of them, real-life Christians stubbornly refuse to start acting the way they are assured they do.

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Consider Her Ways by John Wyndham, a famous science fiction story. Was made into a Night Gallery episode.

A young woman wakes up in a future three generations after the men have been wiped out by a plague. There are four classes of women: Mothers, who bear children, Servitors who do menial work, Workers for hard labor, and the ruling class, the Doctorate, so called because it is dominated by the doctors, without whom reproduction is impossible. Men have been forgotten except by a few scholars. A historian tells the protagonist, “It was quite a dreadful state of affairs because although there were a great many women, and they had outnumbered the men, in fact, they had only really been important as consumers and spenders of money. So when the crisis came it turned out that scarcely any of them knew how to do any of the important things because they had nearly all been owned by men, and had to lead their lives as pets and parasites.” She continues with standard feminist rhetoric, very prescient for a story written in 1956, despite the protagonist’s desperate attempts to explain the joys of the man-woman relationship. In essence, this story is the feminist fantasy: the intellectual career-oriented women are able to seize power, do away with men, and relegate more traditional women to a subordinate role without its doing men any good because there aren’t any.
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►A late addition to this genre is The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice. The first vampire, Akasha, decides to end war and crime once and for all by eliminating the source: men. After she inspires women and other vampires to kill all the world’s males, except for a few for procreation, she is confident that the world will become Eden. Nor is the genre dead today. In 1982, Sally Miller Gearhart wrote an essay titled “The Future – If There Is One – Is Female” in which she demanded that in future, men be limited to ten percent of the population. In 1999, Mary Daly envisioned a utopian future of parthenogenetically reproducing women and no men in Quintessence. In 2004, Bryan Sykes wrote Adam’s Curse: A Future Without Men, he suggested that in the not too distant future, men may be biologically superfluous, and that this will be just as well given how awful men are. In 2008 A. N. Wilson speculated that we could not only do away with men, but change our species entirely in the next half century: What would the world be like without men?

 
This 1971 novel doesn’t quite belong in this category, but I included it because it’s such an
excellent example of backlash against a disturbingly realistic gynotopian worldview.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Editors note: the above content is mirrored with a few minor changes (eg. title and intoductory paragraph, content removed/added) from the website ‘Gynotopias.’ – PW