Realist Librarian’s Favorite Feminist Dystopian Fiction
Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, it’s been on my mind constantly. As with most rulings that are made hastily and for the wrong reasons, I don’t think the Supreme Court understands the full weight of this decision. I find it helpful to process big events through a fictional lens, so I’ve been revisiting some of my favorite feminist dystopia lately (think The Handmaid’s Tale). The totalitarian governments and oppressive bans on creative thinking make them dystopian, but the cornerstone of these governments focused on bringing and keeping women’s rights down make them feminist. It’s creepy how much these universes remind me of the one we’re all really living in right now. The best thing we can do to try to reverse this before it’s too late is read books like this to find out what the worst-case scenario could be, and then vote for representatives who will make sure the stuff in these pages don’t turn into reality.
The Farm by Joanne Ramos (2019)
The Farm is a retreat with extravagant comforts, where women are paid to spend 9 months pregnant with babies for wealthy clients. Jane is a Filipino immigrant with a young daughter who is chosen for a stay at The Farm, but soon starts to wonder whether staying there is worth the price.
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas (2018)
In a time and place much like today, Roe v. Wade has been overturned, IVF is banned, single people cannot legally adopt, and the Personhood Amendment grants the rights of life, liberty, and property to embryos. The story follows four women at different points in their reproductive lives: a single high school teacher who desperately wants a child, her teenage student with an unwanted pregnancy, her friend trapped in a crumbling marriage with two young kids, and the forest-dwelling homeopathic “witch” whose remedies are now illegal.
Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh (2020)
When girls get their first period they go to the station and draw a ticket that determines their life path: white means marriage and children, blue means a career and purported freedom. Calla is a pregnant blue ticket woman on the run looking for safety and worried for her child’s future.
Vox by Christina Dalcher (2018)
Women are no longer allowed to hold jobs, have their own money, or be able to read and write. Women and girls are also limited to one hundred words per day, while men face none of these restrictions. Dr. Jean McClellan used to research language disorders in the brain, and now she stays home teaching her daughter how to be a wife and mother, because it’s the law. When Jean is asked to come back to her lab and continue her research under an emergency order, it might be the opportunity she needs to get her family to safety.
Bumped by Megan McCafferty (2011)
A virus has made everyone over age 18 infertile, and would-be parents are paying teenage girls to have children for them; teen girls are now the most important members of society and pregnancy-related marketing and products are trendy. Teen identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met. Harmony lives in a religious community where she’s spent her life preparing to be a wife and mother. Melody is about to enter a prestigious “bump contract” with a hot celebrity sperm donor, funded by a rich couple desperate for a baby. When they meet for the first time, a case of mistaken identity complicates both twins’ plans.
Thumped by Megan McCafferty (2012)
35 weeks after the events of Bumped, Melody and Harmony are twin teen celebrities, each due to deliver twins on the same due date. Harmony is doing her best to fit back into her religious community with her husband, but she can’t forget about her short but passionate entanglement with a guy she met in the city. Melody is about to complete her prestigious bump contract, but all the fame and fortune is getting in the way of her feelings for a close guy friend. Both girls are hiding a huge secret that will come out sooner rather than later.
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