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Literature / Who Needs Men?

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Typically for the 1970s, the cover art has nothing to do with the story within.

"It is more than two and a half centuries now since we threw off the yoke of slavery, since we expelled the last men, the last troublemakers, from the civilised society of the Republic of Anglia. They thought they were indispensable. They thought that womankind could not get along without them. History shows how wrong they were. How very wrong they were."
Prime Minister Curie Milford

Who Needs Men? is a 1972 dystopian Science Fiction novel by British poet, author, journalist and former merchant mariner Edmund Cooper. Its American edition was published under the title Gender Genocide, hinting even more clearly at its central conflict.

In the 25th century, following apocalyptic disasters including large-scale biological warfare, the Republic of Anglia (in what was formerly England) is a scientifically advanced all-female state, its inhabitants reproducing through a vaguely Brave New World-like system of mass-scale cloning. It is also an effectively totalitarian state, perpetually at war with the struggling remnants of the former patriarchal order that still linger in the Northlands. The aim of Anglia's leaders is that these "regressives" should, eventually, be completely exterminated.

One of those tasked with realizing this aim is Rura Alexandra, a conscientious and idealistic young cadet in her final year at the principal Anglian military academy. Though regretting the violence of the war, Rura understands its necessity for making a better and safer future for her sisters—or so she thinks. As she is deployed and experiences more of the actual conflict, however, she begins increasingly to doubt her own side's rectitude. The familiar propaganda notwithstanding, the horrible enemy, when seen up close, appears still strangely... human.

Contrast with The Handmaid's Tale, its Spiritual Antithesis about a No Woman's Land run by Straw Misogynists.

Who Needs Tropes?:

  • Accidental Hero: Rura's first real combat deployment ends up a disaster, with her the only survivor of her unit. She expects to be cashiered, but instead she is made a hero for salvaging the situation, and decorated and held up as an example to the other cadets.
  • The Ace: Kayt, an older and more experienced officer in the borderland troops, who becomes a sort of mentor figure (and lover) to Rura.
  • Action Girl: Rura, who is decorated and graduates with distinction after her first live-fire mission. Generally, most of the more developed Anglian characters are this, being combat-arm military officers.
  • Affably Evil: Kayt. She is always portrayed as nice and friendly to everyone, is impersonally professional rather than sadistic about her work, and tries to be understanding and sympathetic to Rura when the latter reveals her secret doubts about the regime's genocidal policies. Still, there is never any hint that Kayt sees anything wrong with the evil things they do, herself.
  • The Alcoholic: Olane is heavily implied to be one, due to the stress of being forced through the academy without really wanting a military career.
  • All-Loving Heroine: Rura has empathy for everyone, whether soldiers on her own side or the enemy. Naturally, this does not make her happy as a soldier. She always tries to spare defeated enemies if at all possible, and asks others to do so as well, with varying results.
  • Amazon Brigade: Since the Republic of Anglia is a Lady Land, with no men at all in it, its military is this by default.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Kayt is tall and rather muscular, yet still conventionally attractive. Rura herself is a somewhat downplayed example, neither quite as much of a Valkyrie nor quite as beautiful.
  • Anti-Hero: Diarmid McDiarmid. He is a highly successful guerrilla leader (to the point of becoming The Dreaded to the Anglians), and as such is (as he must realistically be) extremely ruthless. All the same, he remains (mostly) a Knight in Sour Armor who retains a realistic view both of his own actions and those of the enemy.
  • Anyone Can Die: A large number of named characters die over the course of the story, starting quite early. This includes among others Olane, Moryn, Mirage, the Douglas, Diarmid, Kayt and even Rura herself.
  • Appeal to Nature: The main argument of the Northerners is that Anglia's Lady Land is unsustainable in the long run, since it runs contrary to human nature. Thus, it leads to an increasingly dysfunctional and depressed society, and even the most powerful indoctrination cannot halt this downward slide. The Anglians disagree, of course, thinking a Lady Land is a natural next step in humanity's evolution.
  • Appeal to Tradition: Rura finds the "blooding" ceremony in the military (similar to the real-life hunting ritual) unpleasant and even revolting, but accepts it because it is part of the martial traditions.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Zig-zagged. Many of the Anglian characters are beautiful despite being evil (or at any rate, not good), which may be due to eugenics in part. However, it is also acknowledged that the Northerners, in spite of not having access to cosmetics and such, possess an often startling, more "natural" attractiveness.
  • Being Evil Sucks: The widespread alcoholism, promiscuity and drug abuse among the Anglian soldiers would seem to imply Diarmid is right in claiming that their society produces disturbed and unhappy people. Of course, some part of it might also be due to them being soldiers fighting out a depressing Forever War. Either way, most of The Empire's soldiers don't really seem to be having all that much fun being evil.
  • Being Good Sucks: Rura eventually ends up being punished for her sympathy for the enemy, but she is more tormented by her own doubts and guilt. The Northerners are an example in another way, being free but suffering every material deprivation, as well as the horrors of a genocidal war against them.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Rura and Diarmid, when they meet. Eventually, they are married, and Rura joins the Northerners.
  • Berserk Button: Among the Anglians, it is a severe insult to suggest that a woman was naturally born, as opposed to cloned (much as with "Freebirths" among the Clans in the BattleTech setting). Likewise, to be called a "wife" is considered very demeaning, implying both abnormal sexuality (by their lesbian society's standards) and servility.
  • Big Bad: Prime Minister Curie Milford, the leader of the Anglian Republic, who pushes for a more aggressive military policy. Both friends and foes speak of "Curie Milford's Republic" and "Curie Milford's war," identifying her completely with the state.
  • Big Brother Is Employing You: All of the major characters on the Anglian side, and notably the protagonist Rura, are regular military officers serving in the armed forces of their totalitarian state.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The Northerners have a rather primitive society, and tolerate rape of Anglian prisoners (though this is more because their leader can't effectively enforce any law against it than because he likes it). On the other hand, the Anglians are trying to exterminate them down to every last child (and they also rape and torture their Northerner captives more or less regularly, in addition to that).
  • Bury Your Gays: Played with. More gay characters than straight die in the story, but this is due to them being the majority of the characters in the book, as well. In fact, the trope is arguably inverted in this book, since straight characters are both rarer and statistically more likely to come to a bad end.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Justified, since most of the characters are from Anglia, a Lady Land where everyone is lesbian, or at least socialized as such.
  • Chick Magnet: Rura picks up a number of admirers and girlfriends without really trying, even when she becomes increasingly depressed. Some of this is due to Anglia's Free-Love Future setting, but she is implied to be unusually pursued even so.
  • Clone Army: Most Anglian soldiers are clones, with a few created through another, seemingly more exclusive biochemical process called parthenogenesis. While thus biologically identical to their templates, they are raised as individuals with names, downplaying most of the common associations of the trope.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Willa and Garnet beat, kick and otherwise abuse "Jenny Lindsay" to make her tell them where her husband is. From the casual way everyone treats it, this seems to be more or less standard procedure.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Both sides in the war think the other suffers from this, with people able to live in such horrible cultures only due to brainwashing. To the Northerners, Anglia's unnatural, dehumanized and totalitarian all-female society is monstrous, while a patriarchal nation where women are wives and mothers seems horrifying to most Anglians.
  • The Conscience: Rura. At first, she is filled with Patriotic Fervor like the others; after that wears off, she tries to be professional. Even so, she never stops caring about people, even the enemy.
  • Crapsack World: Anglia is a totalitarian state that looks a lot like a Straw Feminist version of Nineteen Eighty-Four with a somewhat less competent Thought Police, while the Northerners live in squalor and privation under the effective rule of warlords. It is said that most of the rest of the world is roughly the same, though the details are vague.
  • Cult of Personality: In Anglia, Curie Milford is all but literally worshiped much like Benito Mussolini was in Italy, or Josef Stalin in the Soviet Union.
  • Culture Clash: When Rura is captured by the Northerners, she is exposed to their culture, which severely clashes with her own upbringing in Anglia. This concerns both trivialities (e.g., forms of address) and the fundamental core assumptions of their respective societies.
  • Cultured Badass: Rura becomes this when she joins the Northerners. She is somewhat above-averagely interested in history and such things even before, but her new status is mainly due to the relatively lower cultural standards there; Diarmid, for example, can't even read.
  • Cure Your Gays: Inverted by the Anglians, who try to force Northerner women they capture to become lesbians. Averted by Diarmid, who instead makes an Appeal to Nature: as he sees it, most Anglian women would simply cure themselves of the unnatural ideas forced on them by their regime's indoctrination and propaganda if they were only exposed to a healthier environment, without any coercion.
  • Dark Action Girl: Mirage, who leads the attack on the Northerner camp during Rura's first real campaign.
  • Defecting for Love: Rura eventually joins the Northerners, both because she comes to view them as the less evil side and because she falls in love with Diarmid.
  • Defiant Captive: Double-subverted. At first, "Jenny Lindsay" is defiant, but then she plays along when Garnet rather forcefully tries to seduce her — but only because she is looking for an opportunity to break free once they are alone together.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Neither of the societies in the story has the same values as real life "Western" culture. Anglia is a Lady Land with socially normative lesbianism and Fantastic Racism against men, as well as a vaguely 1984-like militaristic totalitarian dictatorship, while Northerner society is rugged, primitive and sexist in much the same manner as a warrior band or full-time military unit. Characters from both sides generally consider their own way to live the only reasonable one, though the more thoughtful of them are also able to reflect on and criticize faults they perceive among themselves. Even then, though, they rarely sound like 21st-century Europeans.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The low morale and poor discipline among the Anglian units Rura serves with rather resembles the stereotype of Americans in Vietnam (which, of course, was current at the time of writing), or more darkly, some of the reports of the Nazi counterinsurgency forces on the Eastern Front in WWII (that also took part in genocidal operations). Also, depending on how uncharitable one wishes to be, Prime Minister Curie Milford can be read as inspired by either Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy or Hitler/Stalin-type dictators.
    • Rura's horrified reaction when she realizes that she might be in love with a man, as well as how she progresses from there. Since lesbianism is normative in Anglia and male-female attractions heavily stigmatized, and Rura herself has only been with women before, her thoughts are confused, ashamed and guilty in a somewhat similar way as one might have expected if she had found herself homosexual in a more traditional society.
  • The Dreaded: Diarmid McDiarmid is this in Anglia for being the most successful patriarchal guerrilla leader. His cruelty and dangerousness (the former exaggerated, the latter not so much) are proverbial not only among soldiers, but even in the civilian population.
  • The Empire: The Republic of Anglia, which tries to conquer all of the former Great Britain and impose its own social model and ruthless totalitarian rule on it. It also seems to be ruling parts of continental Europe, though this is somewhat unclear.
  • Energy Weapon: As befits the 25th century setting, lasers have largely replaced traditional rifles and guns, at least in high-tech Anglia. Their standard rifle is a laser, with its lack of recoil making it perhaps especially well suited for their relatively physically weaker and more slightly built female soldiers.
  • Evil Mentor: Kayt plays this role to Rura as a slightly older and more experienced officer, being her mentor, lover and role model, as well as a sympathetic personal voice reinforcing the Anglian regime's horrible ideology and propaganda.
  • Evil Reactionary: The Northerners are viewed this way in Anglia, for refusing to accept their "modern" society. Naturally, they don't consider themselves evil, though they are certainly against that sort of progress.
  • Fanservice: While justified by the internal dynamics of the setting, there are a lot of girl-girl love affairs going on.
  • Fantastic Racism: A variant that overlaps with sexism, since the Anglians are effectively a One-Gender Race and view men as a despised foreign race, if not another species altogether. The women in the Northerner nation are seen either as victims or (more often) as race-traitors for being part of a patriarchal society.
  • Fantastic Slurs: The Anglians use various demeaning appellations for the Northerners, but the most common one is simply "pig" (or "sow" for women). Anglian soldiers in turn are often called "hellbitches" by the Northerners.
  • Fascist, but Inefficient: Much like a real Communist state, Anglia is shown to be massively corrupt, with personal connections crucial to advancement and success. Ordinary citizens live out their rather drab lives under a depressing regime reminiscent of Oceania's permanent war economy.
  • Female Misogynist: Women in both of the setting's cultures hate and despise the women in the enemy society. Specifically:
    • The Amazons of Anglia's Straw Feminist culture view the feminine Northerner women as, at best, contemptibly weak and pitiable victims of the men in their society, and more usually as willfully perverse traitors to their own sex/race for upholding their culture's patriarchal values.
    • Contrariwise, the women of the North (that we see, at least) think of the Anglians as murderous oppressors as well as representatives of a horribly unnatural and sick society: no real women at all, but some sort of distorted monstrosities.
  • Feminist Fantasy: Deconstructed, with the Action Girl heroine part of a glamorous elite military combat unit fighting dangerous barbarians... and finding that her life still is not very enviable. Her country is a Lady Land, and yet it has all the same problems of corruption, fanaticism, etc. as any other totalitarian state. Just having women as the rulers instead of men changes nothing, either for better or worse. And War Is Hell whether the military is male or female.
  • Forever War: The genocidal war against the still-patriarchal Northerners. It has been going on for over a hundred years as a sort of low-intensity conflict, and still does; at the preset time, however, the new Premier, Curie Milford, wants to step up the pace.
  • Free-Love Future: From what we see of it, Anglia seems to view sexual liaisons very casually. To be fair, this may be because most of the major Anglian characters are military cadets or young officers, but there is not even any mention of such a thing as marriage, the closest thing being lovers in regular (but still informal) relationships.
  • Future Imperfect: Both sides in the war have distorted and incomplete images of the past: in the case of the Northerners, simply because they have lost most of their records and rely largely on oral traditions, and in Anglia due to the regime's historiographical falsifications and propaganda. For one example, children are taught that Shakespeare was really a woman hiding behind a male pseudonym.
  • Gendercide: The rise of the Anglian Republic was enabled by a biological weapon that was disproportionately lethal to males. Ever since, the Republic has also been trying to finish the job.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Defied in-universe by Diarmid, who has only contempt for the "homosexual nonsense" of the Anglians.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Garnet and Willa when they grab "Jenny Lindsay" for interrogation. The latter beats and kicks her, while the former attempts to appear friendly and promises good treatment if she will do as she is told. Later subverted, however, when Willa leaves and Garnet tries to seduce/rape Jenny.
  • Good-Looking Privates: When she is on leave as a decorated lieutenant while awaiting redeployment, Rura notices this effect, with a number of pretty young civilian girls who are "obviously in love with uniforms" semi-modestly trying to flirt with her.
  • Heel Realization: Garnet, when the former Lieutenant Rura pleads with McDiarmid to spare her—this after she burned down her home and beat and tried to rape the woman herself. Understandably, she was rather subdued when she apologized to her later.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Curie Milford is described as the most beautiful woman anyone in Anglia has seen, even at seventy, and the response to her public speeches looks a lot like fangirling as much as regular Cult of Personality stuff. Rumor has it that three of her lovers were Driven to Suicide when she broke up with them.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: Inverted. Anglian culture has lesbianism as its norm, and considers voluntary relations with men depraved. They even attempt to resocialize Northerner women who are taken prisoner in the war into their own models of behavior.
  • Hobbes Was Right: Neither side in the war is democratic: the Northerners are ruled by warlords, while Anglia is a People's Republic of Tyranny. No one thinks democracy could work under their respective circumstances, either.
  • Homosexual Reproduction: Anglia's amazons live in a lesbian-normative society and reproduce through cloning. Naturally giving birth to children is considered abhorrent, but at least some girls are raised by their "parents" rather than in creches or schools (though it is implied most grow up in the latter).
  • Hopeless War: For the Northerners, the war against Anglia is this. While "merely" a gruelling Forever War to the latter, the Northerners see themselves slowly but steadily reduced as the lumbering Anglian war machine plods further northward and grinds down their resistance. Unless the trend changes, they appear bound to lose in the end.
  • Hope Springs Eternal: A very downplayed example, in light of the comprehensively depressing Downer Ending, but Garnet was still alive when last seen, and seemed to have honestly reformed after Rura's forgiveness shamed her. It is possible (if perhaps unlikely) that she could be the new ember of reform among the Anglians that Rura herself ultimately failed to be.
  • Inappropriately Close Comrades: Kayt and Rura, being officers in the same unit. This is, strictly speaking, against regulations; but the Anglian military is corrupt (and/or just apathetic) enough that this causes them few difficulties in practice.
  • Innocence Lost: Rura's character arc chronicles her development from idealistic cadet to depressed soldier to increasingly overt dissident.
  • Knight Templar: The Douglas. He fights against a brutal enemy doing its best to commit genocide on his entire people, but his own methods are also inhumane.
  • Lady Land: The Republic of Anglia is an all-female society, with a policy of genocide against all males. Their feminism is organized as a sort of totalitarian ideology, making them the more hostile kind of this sort of setting.
  • La Résistance: The Northerners essentially function as this, being organized in fairly small local groups with little modern industry. They can fight back effectively against the Anglians only through the use of guerrilla tactics.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Most of the Anglian characters are described in terms of conventional attractiveness, even those in the military. Rura does meet some construction workers who are more "masculine" at one point, but they are the only real exception.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Any marriage between men and women is considered to be this in Anglia, since men are viewed as a foreign race, and furthermore an undesirable one that is to be exterminated.
  • Mildly Military: The Anglian military, at least the units seen in any detail, comes across as rather corrupt, apathetic, unnecessarily brutal, and sloppy, the exceptions of a few idealistic young officers and "commissar"-type ideological fanatics notwithstanding. Drug abuse, promiscuity and wanton violence is somewhat widespread, yielding a stereotypically "Vietnam"-like overall impression. Of course, Rura's regiment has been fighting a horrible guerrilla war for a long time, and apparently without relief, so this is not necessarily unrealistic. By the same token, it is likely that other units are in a better condition, at least relatively.
  • Military Academy: The Anglian military officers are trained and educated in the military college at Liberation House, or at least this is the principal military academy. The standard course lasts for only two years, so either the curriculum has been reduced, as compared to real life, or the candidates enter with at least some previous training from other institutions.
  • Mirroring Factions: Both sides in the war accuse each other of horrible war crimes against captives, including rape, torture and worse. Diarmid admits that both are right when called on it by Rura—though he still thinks the Anglians are worse, since his own side is at least not outright genocidal like they are.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: This is Kayt's attitude to the war, and also Rura's at first. Right or wrong is less important than who wins, and the Northerners will destroy Anglia if they are not destroyed first. However, Rura increasingly comes to question this, as what she sees of the war with her own eyes does not agree with the propaganda she has been taught.
  • My Nayme Is: Perhaps to invoke a futuristic language shift, many (though not all) of the Anglian characters' names are abbreviated forms, and spelled in ways that look strange to early 21st-century eyes. Some examples include Kayt (Katherine/Kate), Sharl (Charles, with French pronunciation), and perhaps Rura's own name (if it is to be read as a form of Aurora).
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Anglia is a "Feminazi" Lady Land complete with public rallies, snappy black uniforms, supremacist ideology, totalitarian politics and literal genocide.
  • Never Learned to Read: Diarmid, since he was raised in a postapocalyptic chaos. Rura wants to teach him, but there is never the time for it.
  • No Heterosexual Sex Allowed: Most Anglian amazons think heterosexuality is disgusting and depraved, and it is also illegal in their state. Basically, they treat it as homosexuality would be treated in the most stereotypically conservative 1950s, only with the polarity reversed.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Rather realistically, in this case. Curie Milford is the dictator of Anglia who pushes for increased genocide of the Northerners, but does so from her office (or the speaker's podium) rather than the front lines.
  • Older Than They Look: Curie Milford is seventy, but still has long, blond hair, bright eyes, and remains captivatingly beautiful.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: The Republic of Anglia. While the specifics of its political system are not described in great depth, no mention is made of a parliament, elections or the like, and the Prime Minister's power is to all seeming absolute. If anything, it resembles a vaguely communist military dictatorship; certainly the military is greatly influential, with the principal Military Academy noted as the place anyone ambitious to be anything applies (or sends her daughters).
  • Persecution Flip: A straight example, with the white Christian men of the North being subjected to an exaggerated, genocidal Vietnam War by a totalitarian Lady Land. The story also explores what it can mean to be sexually abnormal by showing the experiences of heterosexual women in a rigidly lesbian-normative society.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Some of Diarmid's views come across as rather sexist in the 21st century, and probably did even when the book was written in the 1970s. For example, he assumes as a matter of course that women cannot run a long-term viable society... though given that the only female-run society he knows of is a massively corrupt totalitarian dictatorship, that sort of makes sense at least within the story.
  • President Evil: Curie Milford, Prime Minister of Anglia and thus basically the leader of a totalitarian state.
  • Propaganda Hero: Rura herself. After she returns alone from her combat patrol mission, she is decorated and presented as a hero for defeating the Northerner ambush and accomplishing their objective even though the rest of the women were lost in action. Actually, as she well knows, all she did was survive—and moreover she let McDiarmid go, which would itself be a court-martial offense if found out.
  • Propaganda Machine: The Anglian educational system and media are geared toward telling the citizens how horribly oppressed women were under the former regime and that they now live in the best of all possible worlds. Such problems as still remain (and can't be covered up) are blamed on the surviving patriarchal enclaves.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Since almost all Anglians are lesbians, those soldiers who are evil or sadistic generally qualify by default. Moryn would be an example for her sadism, and there are a number of others.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: While some of the Anglian servicewomen (such as Moryn) are evil and sadistic, many others are simply soldiering on, thinking that they have a job to do that has to be done (even if it's sometimes a Dirty Business).
  • Punished for Sympathy: Rura becomes unpopular among her fellow soldiers when she questions the morality of the genocide, and is eventually threatened with court martial proceedings when she refuses to shoot children and civilian women.
  • Putting on the Reich: The uniforms for Anglia's Amazon Brigade are smart and black with a skull and crossbones symbol. Downplayed for cadets prior to graduation, who wear white uniforms of the same general cut without the skull badge.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Or woman, in this case. The Anglian cadets are not considered real soldiers until they have seen battle and helped kill an enemy. There is even a semi-formalized ritual about this called the Blooding.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Averted, as most women in Anglia still use makeup, jewelry and other accessories according to what they can afford (though fashion is somewhat different than in the present day), and there is no apparent negative correlation between this and competence or efficiency. Rura and the other military women have short haircuts due to practicality (and regulations), and of course wear uniforms while on duty, but are generally happy to dress up the same way when on leave.
  • Rebel Leader: Diarmid McDiarmid, one of the Northern leaders. He tries to keep his people alive, as well as to strike back against the Anglians when possible.
  • Revenge Against Men: The Republic of Anglia is basically a totalitarian state that has this as its state ideology, seeking to exterminate men for their perceived crimes in the past.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Deconstructed. The Northerners, with most of their industrial base destroyed, are shown to be able to pose a very real threat against smaller units of Anglian troops with their primitive/improvised/scavenged weapons, especially when using clever guerrilla tactics... but in any sort of straight-up battle, they invariably lose horribly, and the long-term trend of the war looks very negative for them.
  • Show Some Leg: "Jenny Lindsay" at first seemingly (if rather nervously) complies when Garnet forcefully tries to seduce her. Actually, she's looking for an opening to fight back.
  • The Social Darwinist: Anglia's ideology proclaims that their all-female society is a higher stage of evolution than two-sexed humanity. They are the stronger, the inheritors of the world, and so the vestiges of the obsolete species must be wiped out to make way for progress and development, and prevent the possibility of regression into lower forms of life.
  • Sociopathic Soldier:
    • Rura's fellow cadet Moryn, who is violent and sadistic. She is also unprofessional, bringing prohibited alcohol with her on a raid behind enemy lines.
    • Willa and Garnet. When they capture a young Northerner woman, the former beats and abuses her, while the latter tries to seduce/rape her.
  • Speculative Fiction LGBT: The Republic of Anglia is a Lady Land where lesbianism is considered normal and socially approved.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Kayt, who is an Amazonian Beauty. Even more so Curie Milford, who is described as almost two meters tall (but perfectly proportioned), and stunningly beautiful even at the age of seventy.
  • Straw Feminist: The totalitarian Anglian regime, which is literally "Feminazi" in the sense that it is a fascist Lady Land with its racism aimed against men.
  • Technologically Advanced Foe: Anglia for the Northerners. They have the standard science fiction arsenal of flying cars, laser weapons and the like, while the freedom fighters for the most part can't really produce modern weapons in any significant quantities anymore; some of them even fight with nothing more advanced than crossbows.
  • War Is Glorious: The Anglian propaganda portrays the war against the Northerner as this. The most glamorous (and yet also dutiful) thing one can do is to join the military and help wage it.
  • War Is Hell: In reality, the war is more like this, a Forever War that has ground on for centuries and might take equally long still to finish. The soldiers struggle against the guerrillas, suffering boredom, stress and much higher casualties than the new cadets had expected, and genocide of helpless innocents is an integral part of it. Naturally, the war is even worse from the Northerner POV, on the receiving end of the genocidal high-tech military's exhaustion and fitful rage.
  • The Women Are Safe with Us: Defied by both sides, as both are shown as well as said to mistreat and rape captives. The war is one of extermination, and there do not appear to be any recognized legal mechanisms for the protection of prisoners.
  • Written by the Winners: The history taught in Anglia's schools is substantially falsified, and paints a nightmarish picture of the past when men held most positions of power in society, with women supposedly enslaved and oppressed.
  • You Cannot Kill An Idea: Diarmid gives a Badass Boast to the effect that while a Northerner victory might seem unlikely, Anglia will not have won the war, either, while there is still even one man left alive fighting back.

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