Name a story with an all-male cast!
[For the sake of argument, I’m defining this as “a story where no woman has a significant speaking part or affects the plot in any meaningful way.” Women can be present, but, like, in the background.]
Have you thought of any?
Because I’ve thought of a whole bunch:
The Man Who Was Thursday.
The Killer Angels.
Lord of the Flies.
Every G.A. Henty book ever, and most war movies, and many westerns, and a whole mess of spy novels and political thrillers. What I’m getting at, folks, is there’s AN AWFUL LOT of exclusively male-centric stories out there.
Now, I want you to name a story with an all-female cast.
Can you do it?
Because . . .
. . . I can’t.
And DON’T say Ocean’s 8! That was billed as an all-female movie, true; but the villain [who received a prominent amount of screentime] was a man. Furthermore, he was the protagonist’s ex-boyfriend and a huge motivation for why she was doing what she was doing. Not a women-only story, by any means. (For context, none of the books I listed above has a female antagonist.) And Ocean’s 8 is not alone. I consider myself a fairly well-read, cultured person and I genuinely can’t. think. of. any. stories. featuring. only. women.
A couple reasons for this:
a) most female-led stories employ (heterosexual) romance as the crowning jewel of their Happily Ever After;
b) even those rare female-led stories where the woman ultimately decides she doesn’t want / need a heterosexual romance, involve MUCH complicated & tangled interaction with men before she comes to that decision;
c) an increasing number of female-led stories star a woman trying to succeed in A Man’s World; hence, men are integral to these storylines, in either antagonistic or supportive roles.
Are you beginning to see a pattern, here?
Men are allowed to exist in fiction without women, but women are not allowed to exist without men.
Put another way? Men have consistently, historically had the luxury of seeing themselves in stories on their own terms, “doing their own thing” in all-male environments without input from the opposite sex. This is a luxury women are still denied. (Seriously, if you have examples to the contrary, by all means, hit me up. I wanna read ’em. But at this point, I’m not aware of any.)
And look. I’m not begrudging anyone their enjoyment of male-exclusive stories. I know a good many people, women included, who actively prefer all-guy adventure stories. That’s okay!!! That’s 100% Not My Thing, but there’s nothing wrong with it, either. If you wanna watch a movie about a bunch of dudes crammed together in a submarine, y’know what? Be my guest. *finger guns* xD
The thing that DOES bother me? We just don’t have corresponding all-girl stories for someone like me to enjoy.
I AM DEAD SERIOUS. Has it occurred to NO ONE that maybe, sometimes, I just wanna read or watch something about an Epic Girl Gang working out their own issues, blissfully unencumbered by men’s opinions or men’s needs or men’s desires?
“But Katie,” I hear the peanut gallery murmur, “but Katie, a story with only women, no men, no romance, would be boring.”
First of all–HIYA! *karate chops* Second of all–is that the real reason??? That women without men are assumed to be boring?? Is that it, y’all?
Off the top of my head, here are some prompts for all-female stories, every one of which would be–I guarantee–k i l l e r s:
a) a murder mystery inside a convent
b) anything inside a convent, really; them places are RICH WITH DRAMA
c) an all-women military unit during WW2 (there were many of these, peeps; google “Night Witches” if ya don’t believe me)
d) the trials and tribulations of an all-female dance troupe
e) BFFs at college who don’t. date. guys. (it ain’t that hard, y’all)
f) girl assassins in the ancient Middle East
g) the Island of the Amazons (or any iteration thereof)
Just leave out the heterosexual romance, go hard on the girl-power friendships, keep any interaction with male adversaries or male leadership to a bare minimum, and BOOM, there you are: smashing, scintillating, female-exclusive adventures. I need this. We all need this. Please, authors of the world . . . don’t let us down.
I want books and movies which prove, beyond a shadow of doubt, that just as men can be interesting without women–women can be interesting without men. This is important. This isn’t something to be taken for granted. To have your own space, “a room of one’s own,” within the world of fiction . . . well, that’s a powerful thing.
I’m not saying this because I “hate men.” (For the record, I don’t.) And I certainly don’t believe fans of all-male stories gravitate towards them because they “hate women.” I’m just saying, there’s gotta be some kind of balance here. Some kind of acknowledgment that we as females deserve. the. spotlight. Period. No questions asked.
That we shouldn’t always have to share the stage with men, and we’re not selfish for wanting to be left alone sometimes.
Comment with your thoughts.