Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Parallel Universe: It's A Woman's World by Jess Granger

Seriously, isn’t it about time women ruled the planet? I remember as a child wistfully thinking if women were in charge of everything, everything would be better. We’d be more compassionate, more globally responsible, more peaceful. Rainbows and kittens would proliferate in abundance and all would be well, right?

Now that I’m grown, one of the things I love about Science Fiction Romance is the open canvas it gives me to explore some of the crazy ideas I had as a child, including the question, “What if women were in charge?”

Would it be the rainbows and kittens of my dreams? The more I thought about it, the more it disturbed me that most of the portrayals of women dominant cultures in popular fiction in both print and visual media went one of two ways.

Either, the culture was completely pacifist. It was a culture of art and healers, and sunshine and roses. Everything was in lovely harmony, but they were weak. Inevitably this sort of alien culture needed saving or protecting from some “evil” invasion. And they had no means to protect themselves.

The more I saw this type of female dominance appear, the more it disturbed me. In a way it was a little like the old idea of the “noble savage.” I felt as if this look at the nature of women flattened us out. It took our best giving natures, but undermined the complexity of woman-kind by making us all good, kind, and giving.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t get together with a group of ten women without having a wide spectrum of female complexity, to the point that it gets difficult to get things done with a large enough group of women. We are not all docile doormats, nor should we be.

Some of the most powerful and infamous global leaders this world has known were women, and they were not fluffy little kittens. From Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria, Nefertiti, Cleopatra, Catherine the Great, heck even the bloody pirate captains Charlotte de Berry and Mary Reed, women have had some teeth, great tenacity, and certainly the ability to protect themselves and their interests through force and diplomacy.

Which brings us to the other female dominant culture that tends to pop up, the Dom dominant culture. If we do show women with some teeth, we tend to see them as either sexually aggressive or leather-clad dominatrix types.

Maybe we should shoot for something in between. When creating a female dominant culture, or any alien culture, remember that no great civilization in history has ever been all good, all bad, devoid of corruption, or unable to protect itself and its interests. Dynamics between women can be every bit as cutthroat and mercenary as male dynamics, but they can also have deep ties of loyalty and friendship. There’s strength in the female species. Look at a mother grizzly bear if you ever doubt it.

Let’s see more female dominant worlds as complex and interesting as we are.

Then it will really be a woman’s world.


Jess Granger is the national bestselling author of the Realms Beyond Series from Berkley. To learn more about Jess Granger and her books, visit her Web site at You can also follow her on Twitter ("jessgranger").