Extraordinary dreams of
an ordinary woman
I felt a sharp pain. It felt like the entire Earth was getting crushed inside my head. Just like two realities colliding to morph into a new one. With that sensation of strangely painful newness, I woke up. It took me a while to open my eyes, but as I did, I saw a rather peaceful world around me. Not much different than the one in the 20th century but technologically more advanced. As I walked a little further, I saw a building. It looked like a legal firm. I decided to go in there and ask for help. I met a man named Jeremy. On stating my problem of having no memory as to how I got here, he started explaining the world around us to me.
Jeremy explained to me how after thousands of years of economic inequality, women just slowly evolved into being a new species of extremely high intelligence. He explained, “The revolution had already started a long time ago in the 21st century. In the 21st Century, women might not have been treated completely unequal in all parts of the world, but the gender pay scale difference was still relatively high. There were far more men in the workforce than women.” I stopped him and said, “Wait a minute. I know all this because I remember I was there in the year 2020.” Jeremy said, “ Let me complete. So at the time women were usually considered amazing multitaskers and very hard-working due to their familial responsibilities. They were also very skilled at managing both their professional life and their household duties. Women were not only very responsible but also among the top scorers in examinations.” I thought to myself, well that is true. As I waited for him to continue, I wondered — what was so different now?
Jeremy continued, “That was the start of the revolution. As women seemed to be getting better and better, men seemed to have stayed exactly the same. The way monkeys evolved into homosapiens, women evolved into far more intellectually powerful beings, creative, and more emotionally intelligent than any species ever imagined. Hence, today the world is filled with women politicians, leaders, CEOs, astronauts, pilots and they are everywhere. They dominate each industry effortlessly. Most of our famous individuals today are women.” I said, “That’s crazy! I can’t believe this is actually plausible.” He said, “Have a look for yourself” and showed me the law firm with female partners dominating leadership positions. I also came to know that married men would take after women’s last names instead of the opposite.
For a minute I was wondering if I was dreaming all this. Then I somehow blacked out again. This time as I woke up, I was back in my room where my alarm woke me up. I guess I was back in 2020? I wondered what kind of magically insane thing made such a silly dream feel so real. Then I realised that I fell asleep reading the famous author Alderman’s novel ‘Disobedience’ . This novel tells the story of a young woman’s exit from orthodox Judaism and leads her to running the interactive game ‘Zombies, Run!’. Alderman is truly one of the top artist’s in female utopian literature.
I don’t blame myself though. I think right now, the real world seems to be out of ideas on how to organise its future through science fiction stories, and that’s exactly why women’s fantasy futures feel more necessary than ever. Imagining alternative worlds is a political act, whether you want it to be or not. The fact that right when we need them most, stories about women remaking the world are finally finding a wide and enthusiastic audience across film, television and literature. From The Handmaid’s Tale to the summer’s breakout hit, Wonder Woman, and (of course) The Power, all have been loved by the audience. The Power, in the best tradition of fantastic fiction, takes after a simple concept — what if women and girls suddenly became physically stronger than men? How intriguing!
Every ordinary woman, who has ever felt powerless in the archaic society they live in, for it being androcentric, has dreamt of a “feminist utopian” society. Feminist utopia is a type of social science fiction, or as Frances Bartkowski states, “The feminist utopian novel is a place where theories of power can be addressed through the construction of narratives that test and stretch the boundaries of power in its operational details”. This means that feminist utopian novels are a whole new creative space where there are a lot of possibilities. This means there are a lot of theories to test in the stories about how different the world could be if that were true. Usually, a feminist utopian novel envisions a world in stark contrast to patriarchal society. A society without gender inequality, envisioning a future or an alternate reality where men and women are not stuck in traditional roles. A place where no emotions are gendered: everyone gets to be vulnerable, tough, aggressive and nurturing, effortlessly confident and inclusively consensus-building, compassionate and dominant. It’s a world where there are no “women’s jobs” and “men’s jobs”. There is no “women cannot be engineers” or “men should not be bakers”.
Feminist utopia does not mean a society which is ruled single-handedly by feminists, with little or no room for men as depicted in dystopias. Today, it seems as if everyday we get a little closer to a gender-equal utopia in many spheres. But sadly, in the sphere of work or professional life, women are still far away from getting near the utopia. Just like the dream I had today: the female utopia I dream of will have employers who will have no reason to wonder whether they should hire based on a woman who might be about to start a family. But, they will also apply the same reasoning towards men who are about to start a family. This can greatly improve the gender pay gap. There are perfectly reasonable discussions that take place in homes, to argue about “which parent should switch to part-time work in order to be there for their children or pick them up after school”. That perfectly reasonable discussion is usually biased in logic, because of the fact that women are paid 86% of men’s salaries (as stated by the Fawcett Society). They seem to go one way almost every time. So men are deprived of time with their children; women are deprived of economic independence.
Most importantly, what I did realise was that my seemingly silly yet significant dream could, in the future, be manifested. The implications of imagining utopian literature reflects longing for political change. It predicts future manifestations of current social and technological experimentation (what Margaret Atwood has termed “forecast journalism”), and it confronts current social problems by increasing their visibility, often in exaggerative terms. These should be thoughtfully considered as unique tools for investigating manifestations of power and extrapolating new directions for feminist discourse. Keeping this in mind while shaping our future workforce could revolutionise women’s careers in the coming years. If every woman decides to keep pursuing her dreams, and striving to become more skilled, or as some of us might say Aspire, this dream can come true! Most importantly, aspiring or striving for things together, with other fellow women while imagining a feminist utopian future might actually make such a dream come true.
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