What are some YA feminist novels

Feminist fantasyNo more gender stereotypes

What does "The Lord of the Rings" have to do with a sexy living room lamp? More than you think.

Excerpt from "The Lord of the Rings": "Her white arms and her clear face were flawless and smooth and the light of stars was in her shining eyes."

"The Lord of the Rings", John Ronald Reuel Tolkien's classic fantasy work, is still considered the benchmark for fantasy literature to this day. Much of what we understand by fantasy to this day still goes back to Tolkien and his creation Middle-earth. But there is one thing you look for in Tolkien as good as in vain ...

Excerpt: "So it was that Frodo saw her that few mortals had ever seen: Arwen, Elrond's daughter."

... namely female characters who can make a significant contribution to the plot. At least the figure of Arwen hardly passes the so-called sexy lamp test, a simplified version of the Bechdel test. Can you easily replace a female character with a sexy living room lamp without disrupting the actual plot?

Nice ambiguity

Kathrin Dodenhoeft: "Even the first time I read it, I found it incredibly incomprehensible why Arwen never does anything."

Kathrin Dodenhoeft is the publishing director at the small fantasy and role-playing game publisher Feder & Schwert in Cologne. And she came up with a new label there: "Wicked Queen Editions", a series for feminist fantasy books.

"The name was such a spontaneous idea, based on fairy tales and wicked stepmothers, that's why Wicked Queen ... and the name should go against clichés and for female characters with their own agenda, but they don't necessarily have to be nice. And that's why the English name because Wicked is so beautifully ambiguous in English, so that means both malicious and cool or extraordinary. "

Why Feminist Fantasy? At some point Dodenhoeft couldn't and didn't want to overlook the usual clichés about women in fantasy, not even grudgingly.

"One of the clichés is that a woman, a female protagonist, is strong and competent until she falls in love with a man who is of course absolutely great."

The woman in fantasy books is almost always subscribed to romantic entanglements. Either because she only has to serve as a love object for the male hero anyway or because she throws everything upside down because of a good-looking man.

"Suddenly, as soon as she moves around with him, she suddenly apparently loses all her skills and is totally helpless and constantly has to be rescued by him. I recently read something like that in a recent novel and thought like this: no!"

More than just intelligent female roles

Even if more and more female heroes populate the fictional worlds, even if pioneers like Ursula K. Le Guin have introduced feminist perspectives into fantastic literature since the 1960s: Fantasy literature is and remains male-dominated. Not least because many publishers use traditional expectations in order to sell their books. One of these expectations: women write romantic fantasy for young readers.

Judith Vogt: "It is still the case that women are forced into this young adult genre, or just into this romance genre. And fantasy to be taken seriously has a man in the front because it supposedly sells better. "

Judith Vogt is a German fantasy writer. So far she has had luck with her publishers. Others, however, less so, she says. Her current fantasy series, "The Thirteen Drawn", does not have a dominant female role - nevertheless Vogt describes herself as a feminist author. Feminist fantasy is not just about designing more intelligent female roles:

"Intersectional feminism means that non-binary people also have their place in it, skin colors other than white. For a long time now, we have always had white able-bodied Cismans as heroes with whom we all had to identify, no matter what gender, no matter what skin color, no matter what origin, and I believe that feminist fantasy is the way to show that the world is so much more than just that. "

Fantasy is often - unlike science fiction - understood as escapism, as an opportunity to escape from the world, at least as entertainment - and not as a political program. And yet fantasy should deal with feminism, social change and diversity, believe the publishers of Feder & Schwert. You launched the series "Wicked Queen Editions" ...

Kathrin Dodenhoeft: "... because I am a supporter of the theory: Everything is political. If you don't want to read books by women authors, you are political. If you don't like books with female protagonists the same way."

In order to be accepted into the "Wicked Queens", however, you have to meet a few minimum conditions, says the publisher: A woman's story has to be a decisive part of the plot. There must be many more intelligent women populating the world who bring their own stories with them. When women fall in love, they shouldn't automatically lose their sanity. And: under no circumstances should they have to be perfect - they can even be extremely unsympathetic. After all, says Dodenhoeft, there are far too few female villains in fantasy anyway.

The first book of the "Wicked Queens" is "An Easy Death", the first part of a fantasy trilogy by the American Charlaine Harris about the gunslinger Gunnie Rose - she is a heroine in an alternative version of a 1930s southern America, so one typically male role in a typically male-dominated setting.