Gynotopias

At least since the ancient Greeks told each other stories about the Amazons, the concept of an all-female society has fascinated men and women both. In the literature of the last couple of centuries, a few clear patterns in our fantasies about gynotopias have emerged. The most well-known classic of the genre, Herland, actually features a conversation between the three male explorers encapsulating three of them:

Jeff was a tender soul. I think he thought that country - if there was one - was just blossoming with roses and babies and canaries and tidies, and all that sort of thing.

When we write all-female fiction, all sorts of fascinating issues come to light. A psychoanalyst could spend his career untangling the complexes and preoccupations this genre exposes. Not only stereotypes, but also buried and not-so-buried feelings of hostility towards both sexes, fantasies, fears, and the preoccupations of the times. Indeed, sometimes the hatred of the opposite sex displayed in these works, by authors of both sexes, is shockingly virulent.

Often all-female worlds are imagined as Utopias. The details of the Utopia vary, but the idea that a world without men would be one recurs again and again. The all-female island from which Wonder Woman came was even called "Paradise Island".

And Terry, in his secret heart, had visions of a sort of sublimated summer resort - just Girls and Girls and Girls - and that he was going to be - well, Terry was popular among women even when there were other men around, and it's not to be wondered at that he had pleasant dreams of what might happen. I could see it in his eyes as he lay there, looking at the long blue rollers slipping by, and fingering that impressive mustache of his.

Terry's fantasy was to be depicted over and over again in gloriously campy science fiction movies in the 50's.

Then there are the more realistic versions, which didn't really get written until the last couple of decades:
"You're all off, boys," I insisted. "If there is such a place--and there does seem some foundation for believing it--you'll find it's built on a sort of matriarchal principle, that's all. The men have a separate cult of their own, less socially developed than the women, and make them an annual visit--a sort of wedding call. This is a condition known to have existed--here's just a survival. They've got some peculiarly isolated valley or tableland up there, and their primeval customs have survived. That's all there is to it."

All-male worlds are far rarer in fiction. This may be partly because in many societies, the agora has been effectively all-male. In any case, the idea does not seem to ignite the imagination of either men or women to nearly the same extent.

After reading many of these stories, I realized that the recurring themes could be divided, roughly, according to time period. That is how they are now presented.

The Belle Epoque: Utopia
Amazons
Venus Needs Men: Love-Starved Amazons in Outer Space
The War of the Sexes: Feminism and Male Chauvinism
Separatism
Sex and Science: The Realistic Take
Androtopias: All-male worlds
Gynotopian Links
Reading List
Real-Life Gynotopia in Africa!

NOTE: I won't be expanding this site very much more due to time constraints. I had compiled a large list of gynotopian works that I hadn't yet investigated, so those are listed on the Reading List page.