In the same way that men do, women read fantasy because they enjoy exciting stories set in imaginative places, with clever plot lines and intriguing characters. Women also read fantasy because they like to imagine a world where men and women relate to each other on a level playing field. For better and for worse, fantasy provides a way for us to see just how level the playing field is between men and women, as well as what needs to be improved.
In an ideal world, men are still men, and women are still women, but instead of being adversaries when they relate to each other, they are allies. Instead of one sex succeeding at the expense of the other, both sexes succeed together, in a “win-win” kind of way. Does that sound like a fantasy?
Perhaps—and yet perhaps not. As women increasingly control their economic fates, societies everywhere must catch up to how their actions affect the balance of power between the sexes, not only economically, but socially, and spiritually. Fantasy can help us imagine a world where rather than competing in a never-ending struggle for power, men and women can work together to make the world a better place, something we all need to do.
Toward that end, when we read fantasy literature, we need to ask ourselves, “Is the hero who is naturally brave, intelligent, and powerful also comfortable being in his feelings? And, is the heroine who is in naturally in her feelings, also brave, intelligent and powerful?” In other words, can our heroes, as well as the men in our lives be feeling, and not just powerful? Can our heroines and the women in our lives be powerful and not just feeling? The answer is of course they can! If both sexes are willing be honest with one another, and do their part to meet each other halfway, anything is possible. Fantasy can show us this and a great deal more, while still entertaining us with amazing heroes and heroines, evil villains, and well crafted stories, with a steady dose of drama, darkness, and danger.
By Olivia Rosestone
Image credit: Sulamith Wulfing
Why Women Like Fantasy