This week at the SFF Seven we’re discussing what we do in our stories to smash the patriarchy.
My favorite way to crack up patriarchal thinking? Model other kinds of worlds and societies!
See, the insidious thing about living in a patriarchal society is that we absorb that kind of thinking as part of “normal.” We are programmed from the time we are small children to assume that given rules imposed by our society are fundamental truths. Stuff like that females aren’t as physically strong as males and therefore cannot be fighters. Or that females are in sexual peril from males and that this is part of the natural course of life, that females must be protected and observe safety rules to avoid that sexual peril. Or that females are responsible for pregnancy and its consequences.
One of the great aspects of writing alternate world fantasy is that the worldbuilding is an excellent tool for changing up these programmed “truths.” We can create worlds and societies that DON’T believe these things, which then changes all kinds of layers of the lives of females. Personally, I love to write a world where gender doesn’t dictate ability to be a warrior, or a wizard. Or where rape isn’t a given. Or where birth control is magically handled and available to everyone.
Of course, it’s also useful to impose power imbalances, too – and then use those to highlight how injustice works. By seeing familiar power imbalances in new light, we may notice more about our own world. Instead of simply accepting that programming, we can work to change it.