There is a recent trend in the increase in dystopian fiction written by, or concerned with, women. Much of these literature revolve around the idea of a distorted governance, climate change, and easily taking away certain human rights. The ideas in such speculative fiction can feel close to reality in the new political era where women in America and around the world are looking at the Trump administration’s stance on sexual harassment and possibilities that abortion may be made illegal.

Read the article here at The Atlantic: The Remarkable Rise of the Feminist Dystopia


Dystopian fiction is taking one or a few faulty aspects of the world we live in, amplify them, and imagining the potential disastrous effects. What makes dystopian fiction popular and interesting to read is the comfort it brings to the reader when reality is not as bad as it seems in the speculated fiction. At the same time, it serves as a warning to how much worse things can get if society goes down a certain path.

Feminist dystopia is taking the limelight because the stories vocalises the fears and anger of women today. Cultural references to these books are also a common language for activism, for instance where protests were held with protesters dressed like handmaids from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.   

It is not just in Western literature where writers are using dystopian fiction to explore the possibilities of reversing the progress made for women’s rights. Writers from the Middle East and Asia have also written about the oppression of women in the region. An example is Maggie Shen King’s An Excess Male that takes place in a possible future China extrapolating the consequences of the former one-child policy to one where women are forced to marry multiple husbands. (Read more at The New York Times: How Feminist Dystopian Fiction Is Channeling Women’s Anger and Anxiety)  

Questions for personal analysis: 

  1. Why do you think the gender of the writer matters where literature is concerned?
  2. How effective is the use of dystopian fiction in vocalising the need for political action?   

Useful vocabulary:

  1. ludicrous’: foolish, or unreasonable
  2. ‘egregious (system)’: outstandingly bad; shocking
  3. ‘allegory’: a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one
  4. ‘modicum’: a small quantity of a particular thing, especially something desirable or valuable
  5. ‘upended world’: a world that is set or turned on its end or upside down.

Picture credits: Photo by roya ann miller on Unsplash