Dystopian literature is a pivotal tool in critiquing current society and providing us examples, although some more extreme than others, of what could happen if we don’t change or improve our current society’s flaws. With this idea in mind, dystopian novels often try to create realistic worlds in which we can clearly see parallels between the society depicted and our own. Therefore, the political and social climate the novel was written plays a key role in how these divisions of race, class, and gender are represented in dystopias. For my conference and research paper, I will be using my novel The Selection and other dystopian novels written throughout recent history to analyze the difference between female and male depiction in dystopian literature and how situations in society at the time they were written impacted this representation.
Women have been struggling to gain equality in our society for much of the past two hundred years. Through historical periods such as the suffrage movement or women’s liberation movement, men and women have been given more equal roles in society, yet today divisions still exist. As dystopian novels often critique the flaws of our society, when our society refuses to recognize the genders as equal, these novels provide examples of the downfalls of this lack of recognition, or the benefits when one challenges the recognition.
More recently, though men and women are more equal than ever, there still exists gaps in equality between the genders. Currently, difference in wage, political representation, and statistics in employment reinforce the gaps that exist in gender. Stereotypes and social norms still influence society’s thought and perception of the two genders and therefore the fight more recently has been toward changing the social climate of our society and the views of the genders.
My independent reading book, published recently in 2012, The Selection, the strong, feminist lead America challenges stereotypes given by her society, where men are the providers and women are valued moreover for beauty than intelligence. The Selection emulates The Bachelor, where one man chooses from a pool of many women. The Selection seems to be a criticism of such shows like The Bachelor that objectify women.
Dystopian literature allows us to reflect on the current state our society and provides a warning of how portions of our society could worsen. In order to truly understanding the gender systems in dystopias, we must analyze the society at the time By doing so, we can deduce the root of the depiction of gender in the novel and how the dystopia seeks to address or overcome the flaw in gender divisions plaguing society.
Cass, Kiera. The Selection. New York, HarperTeen, 2012.