Sultana’s Dream is actually a short story and not a whole book, which I didn’t realize until it came to an abrupt end. It’s about a woman’s dream of an utopian society of women who took over the running of their from the men after they suffered a massive military defeat. The story of how the women came to power is my favorite part of the story but it also goes into how they live and what it was like before the women took over.
I love the idea of these old feminist utopian stories but I also get the fault in their ideas. Women are not inherently better than men, we are simply socialized to think of community and family before ourselves, to be as docile as society can get away with making us, and that giving of ourselves is a higher virtue than taking power. Not all women listen to society and we have come a long way away from this as a gender in Western society while some others are still underived more strict patriarchal societies. I appreciated the mention that good leaders who happen to be women improve things over bad leaders who happen to be men, despite internal biases, that was mentioned in Half the Sky. They dont quite put it that way, but that was my take away from their explamation. It’s not so much that one gender is better than the other but that those who believe in inherent superiority of any group tend to mistreat those they believe themselves to be superior than. Hence the reversal of roles in this book but not an egalitarian nor a merit based society.
Of course, merit based anything is so biased that I hesitate to believe anyone sees it clearly. There have been studies that those with the most merit are actually those who look and think most like the person making the decision. Perhaps this is how we’be ended up with so many diversity campaigns, we must make a special effort to assess merit in those we are less like because different points of view consistently improve things for the rest of us, even if it’s only that they sharpen our argument.
Getting back to the book, though. This is a fun little story about a feminist utopia, a place where women rule over men in the same fashion women were ruled when it was written in 1905. I bought it on Kindle and you can too here or simply add to Goodreads for later.