Follow TV Tropes


No Woman's Land

Go To

"When you come to Kazakhstan, you are all invited to stay at my house, eat my food and use my sister."
Borat Sagdiyev, Borat

A No Woman's Land is a misogynist hell. Women are forced to marry, either by direct violence or by intentionally induced poverty, and every husband is a lazy cheating bastard who is allowed to beat his wife to a bloody pulp and can sell his daughters to the highest bidder with impunity; blink the wrong way and you get burned as a witch; take a step out the door and you'll get raped on the spot; and every other girl is a prostitute and/or Sex Slave. It's a Crapsack World if you're a woman.

This is commonly used as to depict either a specific nation or region or just "the other place with people who are different from us and therefore inferior", the Straw Misogynist trope applied on a wider scope. While the Islamic world is one of the most frequent receivers of this stereotype, India, Mayincatec societies,note  Southeast Asia, the whole African continent, and sometimes even developed Asian countries like Japan and South Korea don't get off well either (along with the implication that only westerners that can save them). Asian movies have been known to depict Western nations this way, as well. Historical and period settings, especially those set in medieval and ancient societies, or barbarian settings, will also invoke this, as well as future dystopic settings, all to symbolize something backward, evil, regressive and far from normality as possible. Violence and oppression towards women is a handy, instant, visceral visual shorthand to communicate to an audience and economically conveys a lot about a particular setting. Of course, used the wrong way, it can be accused of Romanticized Abuse and such elements (especially in B Movies, and dodgy romance novels like The Sheik, which are marketed explicitly on exploitative appeal) or, especially if contrasted with a Lady Land, misandry (men as a whole are depicted as hateful, evil creatures in contrast with pure, innocent women who would run the world as a Utopia if they were in charge). If a fictional society is portrayed this way by another ficitional society in the same universe, but it isn't actually true, then it's Fantastic Racism. Saying that your enemies abuse their women is an Abomination Accusation Attack, and pretty much the oldest racial slur out there.

Generally speaking there is no particular reason given for why the place is like this. The creator usually expects the audience to assume that this is what all (human) societies would look like if not for modern governments (with the Unfortunate Implication that only the government stands between women and naturally violent men: in reality governments are often part of the problem). It is worth remembering that, like any other cultural practice, misogyny becomes a thing for certain reasons. Those reasons dictate what type of misogyny will be present in a given culture, and how brutally it will be enforced. While the inhabitants of this society probably have no idea why they do this other than Appeal to Tradition, outsiders can either speculate or may in fact know the reasons why this society operates this way: or might be able to glean clues from the setting itself.

Related to Damsel in Distress. Compare Medieval Morons, which sees people of another time as essentially cruel and stupid. Contrast Lady Land, the matriarchal counterpart which is far more likely to be depicted positively. See also The Women Are Safe with Us, another form of contrasting the treatment of women to depict one group as more moral. Unrelated to the "No Man's Land" of trench warfare.

Remember that real-life examples would be very controversial, and are therefore forbidden. While most societies throughout history have discriminated against women to some extent, this trope is for fictional portrayals that are virulently misogynistic even by the standards of their respective time periods.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Orc Eroica:
    • Orc territory, since for a long time the all-male orcs abducted women to rape and impregnate. While (law-abiding) orcs limit themselves to female criminals given to them by other races, it's still very unusual to find any other women there willingly.
    • Succubus territory could be considered the inversion of this, as (most of the time) the only men there are kept as food. It wasn't until recently that the succubi even gave their captives decent living conditions.
  • This is the case with Silverland, in Princess Knight. Women aren't allowed to vote or own property and generally are considered inferior to the men. In fact, one of the driving conflicts in the series is that the King and Queen's child, Sapphire, was born a girl and thus is ineligible for the throne. It's subverted at the end when Plastic mans up, gets all women in the kingdom equal rights, and gives Sapphire the crown. Considering that the comic was written in The '50s, this resolution was very much Fair for Its Day.
  • Shitsurakuen. A metaphor for the callous ambivalence towards students being bullied pushed to Anvilicious levels. Girls in Utopia Gakuen are nothing but objects to be hoarded, fought over, abused, and discarded at leisure by the boys, who are universally depicted as doing so.
  • The Old Arcadia Empire in Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle. Women weren't allowed to use Drag-Rides, commoner women were often abducted by male nobles to satisfy their desires, noble women were treated as tools for political marriages, and young girls (regardless of status) were subjected to horrific experiments to develop weapons. Women who were unable to give birth were treated even worse, as shown by how Raffi Atismata was treated poorly by her own family for getting a childbirth-preventing disease. From later information in the light novels, this society may have been a reaction to the Holy Arcadia Empire, which was toppled and replaced by the Old Arcadia Empire in a revolution. The known leaders of the Holy Arcadia Empire have all been female, though it's unclear if their society was actually matriarchal.

    Comic Books 
  • Bitch Planet is set in a world where Non-Compliant women get sent to a Penal Colony. Non-Compliance in the world of Bitch Planet can mean anything from murder, causing your husband to have an affair, not keeping yourself looking suitably attractive for men, or basically anything else that'll give men a reason to get rid of you.
  • The Fantastic Four ally Thundra (of Lady Land Femizonia) often finds herself pitted against Mahkizo of Machus, a world that is violently misogynistic. The two timelines are eventually merged; it's debatable if anyone's really any better off since the resulting world is still violent and deadly. There was one point where they learned to love each other, but that seems to have been forgotten.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Uranus is a bad place to be a woman, as Lord Uvo enslaves every woman he comes across and likes to use them to test out the effects of atomic weapons.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): The Sangtee Empire is a bad place to be a woman. If you're kreel, you're hidden throughout your childhood and young adult life until you've been fully trained to hide your femininity and act as a man. If you're not, you're sent to hellish slave planets and worked to death mining for the empire.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Dilbert, the Elbonians act like jerks to Alice, calling the engineer a "coffee wench" leading to frustration and Elbonians being kicked into their own hats. "I'm going to Elbonia, the land of waist-deep mud and misogyny." — Alice, in the March 11, 1998 strip.

    Fan Works 
  • The Hobbit fanfic Amazons of Erebor portrays the culture of the Tolkien's dwarves like this. The dwarves are all women and their quest for the Lonely Mountain is mainly to have a place to live free of male rule.
  • Wartmonger society in Empath: The Luckiest Smurf is portrayed as misogynistic, with males and females segregated from each other except for matters of procreation and sexual amusement. Empath meets a few of the female Wartmongers who don't particularly like the situation that they live in, especially with King Bullrush's guards threatening to molest a young female Wartmonger if the others refuse to surrender Empath unto them.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan-universe Fall Of Equestria exaggerates this: born from a now-defunct Tumblr blog, the basic premise is that Equestria is overrun by a nation of misogynistic caribou and the mares are little more than sex slaves and toys to the males.
  • In one Harry Potter fanfic, The Last War, the author goes on a particularly Anvilicious rant about how the wizarding world "denied the sacred healing acts of witchcraft in favor of the violent virility of wizardry, the way it covered women in hideous robes to conceal their natural beauty."
  • Vow of Nudity: Somewhat averted. Even though the focus is on female characters who clearly suffer some serious abuse, the setting shows that male characters are going through the same thing around them. Genasi are shown sexually exploiting slaves of any gender, and every slave is forbidden to wear clothes. Haara is also just as likely to encounter lecherous female characters as male.

    Films — Animation 
  • Beauty and the Beast is set in an 18th-century French village that is not kind to a girl like Belle, as everyone considers her crazy for liking to read and back Gaston in his behavior towards her, even though he does things that are rude at best and worthy of a restraining order at most drastic. The only people who consider Belle's opinions or desires are her father (who's also considered crazy), the castle servants, and the Beast.
  • The Breadwinner: The Taliban enforce extremely strict rules on women. They are not even allowed to leave their home without being accompanied by a male family member and are beaten at best when confronted for doing so no matter the cause.
  • Implied to be the case in the towns the women of Iron Town came from, in Princess Mononoke. When Ashitaka comments on how hard they must work to run the furnace, they tell him that it's far better than the brothels they used to work at, mentioning that they're given plenty of food and protection from men harassing them. The men of Iron Town don't seem overly thrilled by how much freedom the women have, but everyone respects Lady Eboshi and she insists on the women being treated well.
  • The Thief and the Cobbler: The Rape, Pillage, and Burn Always Chaotic Evil Proud Warrior Race Guy One-Eyes use their own women only as entertainment (via exotic dancing and presumably something else) and furniture (no, really) for the male soldiers. A deleted scene from The Recobbled Cut reveals that the contortionist women that the One-Eye leader uses for his throne get even at the end by screaming "Throne! Throne!" and then all sitting on him all at once, squashing him to death.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Blood of the Tribades: The priests of Bathor believe in strict patriarchy, with women having a duty to provide children and not possessing any other rights. Any who defy them are exiled or killed, as they deem their sins the cause of a disease afflicting the priests.
  • Kazakhstan is portrayed this way in Borat: as a place where women are regularly raped and the only viable career choice is selling their bodies. Actual Kazakhstani people were not amused by their country's portrayal.
  • From the second Bridget Jones movie: she is in a women's prison in Thailand and all the other inmates talk casually about how their boyfriends abuse them.
  • Chaos Walking: Karyssa Hewitt's journal paints a grim picture of Prentisstown for women on the planet of New World; many of the men slowly turned on them due to never knowing what they thinking while they couldn't hide anything they thought (on New World men and only men are afflicted with "Noise", causing them to visually and audibly project their thoughts). Aaron worsened this, preaching that women lacked Noise because they have no souls among other things. David introduced a curfew for the women and their lives became increasingly restricted, ultimately culminating in the men murdering all the women (Todd Hewitt was led to believe the women were killed in a war with the natives of New World until he learns the Awful Truth).
  • Chinatown is a film noir Genre Deconstruction that more or less depicts the classic noir setting of The '30s as a patriarchal Crapsack World where all the women in the film meet sticky ends: The Fake Mrs Mulwray, the actress Ida Sessions, gets whacked to tie up loose ends. The real Evelyn Mulwray dies ignominiously like a criminal, her daughter/sister Katharine enters Noah Cross' clutches, very likely being raped in turn. Even Curly's wife, the woman who was caught cheating by Jakes at the start of the film, is revealed to sport a very new and fresh-looking black-eye, hinting that Jake's investigation condemned her to a life of Domestic Abuse, and she has nothing but contempt for the "hero". The film also points out that even the hero, Jake is a sexist, a person who initially takes Noah Cross' words that his "daughter" is damaged over that of Evelyn who accurately tells him that her father is a dangerous man.
  • Even though it wasn't the main theme of the film, C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America briefly touches on the fact that women in the Confederate States of America never got the vote and, thanks to John Ambrose Fauntroy V's "Family Values" program, are allowed to be beaten by their husbands. (Compare that to Canada, who actually got the vote sooner because Susan B. Anthony emigrated to Canada.)
  • Kiss of the Dragon, a Jet Li vehicle set in Paris, plays this trope straight by having Bridget Fonda as a woman from some rural region in the US who was lured to France and ended up forced to work as a prostitute for the Big Bad. This may be more a part of the illegal immigration scare than "France is bad for women", as there is a strong narrative in France of "illegal immigrants end up enslaved by their smuggler".
  • Stanley Kubrick's movies have very few female characters and in most cases, women meet nasty fates. The fact that the main exception is the titular Lolita is saying something.
    • A number of his movies are set during wartime such as Paths of Glory and Full Metal Jacket where the main options for women are either sex objects, potential and actual rape victims, or a child soldier, as in the case of the Sniper at the end of the film. Likewise, his dystopian film A Clockwork Orange is set in a future where women are more or less sex objects, and rape is more or less a constant never-ending crime.
    • His film, Barry Lyndon was one of the few period films of its time, and times afterwards, that really put across how misogynist and sexist the aristocratic setting romanticized in earlier literary adaptations are. A society where the only careers available to women is marriage and children, is not healthy either for women, for children or for their spouses. Depressingly, this seems to have gotten worse in his "contemporary" Eyes Wide Shut where by the turn of the millennium, women are once again trapped in boring marriages, with careers as prostitutes and Disposable Sex Worker, and/or Trophy Wife being their primary roles in bourgeois society. Whether this reflects how Kubrick believes society to be, or reflected his own imagination is, of course, a separate issue.
  • The Afghani film Osama exposes much of the misogyny that was hidden from Western eyes during the reign of the Taliban. A member of the morality police whacks a woman on her husband's bike because her ankles are visible. Later we see that the protagonist's family is on the verge of starvation because all the men are dead and thus none of the women can leave the house because they don't have a male escort. They are starving to death with a market right down the street.
  • Suffragette takes care to portray the suffrage movement's England in a nuanced way, but to any modern woman, it nevertheless comes across as misogynist hellhole, simply because it was like that. Especially the fact that the men have no scruples about violence against women, domestic violence as well as Police Brutality, and the protagonist's husband is legally entitled to give her child, for whom she is the primary carer, up for adoption without her consent makes England look extremely backward compared to America's usually idealized view of British culture. Not to mention the fact that the protagonist's employer is implied to rape all his underage employees, or at least the pretty ones, and get away with it. The fact that men are paid more than women for less work almost seems insignificant compared to the horrors of the time.

  • Alexis Carew: New London has a habit of encouraging people with backwards ideas to go to other planets and colonize them instead of combating the ideas, which means that sexism is much more common and accepted on the Fringe, up to and including banning women from inheritance (which is unconstitutional, but enforcement is lax to nonexistent). Naturally, this means that Alexis frequently takes crap just for having two X chromosomes, though she tends to win over the common spacers with her A Mother to Her Men tendencies. Exaggerated in Mutineer when she is taken aboard by Captain Neals, who makes it his personal mission to drive her to resignation. This is not true of the other major star nations: the first recurring Hanoverese officer we're introduced to, Balestra, is a female commodore. Women are also more common in New London's Army, since they have the attitude that if the Army is needed within New London's space, then they've got bigger fish to fry than worrying about pissing off some male-chauvinist fringeworld lord.
  • Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley has a post-apocalyptic dystopian society whose Religion of Evil labels women as vessels of the Unholy Spirit and breeders of filth. If they give birth to deformed babies (which they usually do), they are brutally whipped and their babies are ritually sacrificed to Belial.
  • Since the world of The Arts of Dark and Light for the most part sticks fairly closely to "realistic" social models for medieval societies, women generally play a rather limited role in public affairs (except in the elvish kingdoms, which have more "modern" social norms). The one country that is absolutely horrible, however, is Savondir, which enslaves all women with any potential for magic in their blood and uses them for breeding stock for its magical State Sec. Of course, there's never even any question of them actually teaching magic to women.
  • Bazil Broketail:
    • Padmasa mostly has women used as breeding slaves, with the rest clearly holding inferior status to men.
    • The Teetol and Ourdhi are very patriarchal, with their women sold regularly to outsiders (Padmasa is a main buyer).
  • Subverted in The Belgariad. Garion initially reacts poorly on finding out that Nadrak society dictates that women should have male "owners"... until learning that "ownership" works out to what is essentially a mutually beneficial business relationship instead of slavery. Most Nadrak women carry several knives to "chastise" a man who gets carried away, an act that is regarded approvingly by other Nadraks. The Murgos may be a somewhat more accurate example, as their views on maintaining pure bloodlines require their womenfolk to be sequestered and locked up most of the time. However, we only see three Murgo women with any character depth in the whole series, and none are very accurate examples of the culture. This all turns out to be very deliberate, since The Belgariad itself firmly established the heroes' racism, and the Mallorean showed them that the rest of the world was never as cut-and-dried as they always believe.
  • In most of the novels of William S. Burroughs, women are largely absent, and when present, are generally objects of disgust and loathing (or at best, useful artificial insemination incubators) for the Manly Gay characters who populate his fiction, most notably in The Wild Boys and The Red Night Trilogy.
  • Janine Cross' Dragon Temple Trilogy one-ups Gor: Women aren't just considered property, they're disposable property. They work, eat, and sleep separately from men. They sleep on raised mats so that their "filthy female secretions" don't desecrate the soil. "Unclaimed" women (adult women not taken as wives) are subject to becoming sex slaves (which is an express ticket to a horrible, diseased death). Those women who do have power only have that which is granted by the men in their lives (powerful husbands or male relatives). Those with Dhjibi blood (denoted by mottled skin) are doubly-disposable. Naturally, in their own lands, the Dhjibi have more or less equality of the sexes.
  • In Caliphate portrays an Western Europe taken over by an Taliban-like government where a woman's testimony is worth half a male's and have no say when being abused by men. Non-Muslims in general are treated like second-class citizens, but female Christians can be taken as sex slaves and concubines. Female Muslims have it slightly better than Christians, but that isn't saying much since they are forced to wear headscarves on pain of being disfigured, are forbidden from reading and expected to be only mothers and homemakers, and at least one prominent Muslim divorces his wife and sends her a brothel. The one exception is Besma, Abdul Mohsem's daughter, who is his favorite child and said to be his heir, despite her being born from a Christian concubine and having a younger brother from a Muslim stepmother and even then, this is noted to be unusual until she marries later down the line where she is subjected to an domestic abuser. Their treatment of women appalls characters so much that the USA (which has turned into a fascist Christian theocratic empire) comes across as a A Lighter Shade of Black because for all its many, many faults, they note it at least grants greater freedom to women such as the right to join the military.
  • Chronicles of Ancient Darkness: The Narwal Clan from Viper's Daughter is highly oppressive of their women. The men call women "half-men", provide them with less suitable food, clothing and shelter, believe they can't be mages or archers (they think Renn is capable of Magecraft only because she has the souls of a man), and punish them violently if they think they're acting out of line. The Narwals have to buy women from other clans that aren't nearly as chauvinistic as them.
  • Celendor Empire in Dark Shores. Women are treated as property of their men (first fathers, then brothers/cousins or husbands), they cannot inherit and their men have absolute power over them, they can even sell them into slavery or kill them with impunity. Of course, if a woman is a daughter of an important family, her husband would be foolish to mistreat her. This is particularly true for Celendor proper and upper classes, as other provinces of the Empire have their own cultures and lower classes are more pragmatic.
  • Dune:
    • In general, most societies in the universe are patriarchal — outside of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood — with women exposed to socially sanctioned subordination and violence; but the worst by far are the Tleilaxu, who lobotomize all their female children and use genetic and biological engineering to convert them into giant, bloated, brainless uterus-machines used for organ regeneration and cloning. The Bene Tleilax are also viciously xenophobic and jingoistic about their racial superiority, justified in part by their misogynistic theology, as they despise other cultures—and in particular the Bene Gesserit—which do not subjugate their women as totally or as absolutely as the Tleilaxu do.
    • Fremen society is patriarchal, and even though Fremen women are strong and fearless, they're still treated like subordinates. For example, a man dying at the hands of a woman is considered embarrassing, as Chani notes when she kills a man who wanted to duel with Paul in the first novel. Also, sietch leaders are always male. In Dune Messiah, Farok tells Scytale that Fremen sacrificed virgins to Shai-Hulud (a practice Farok thinks should return) before Liet-Kynes made them abolish the practice. Finally, male duel victors inherit the wives of their defeated foes as spoils of war, with the wives having no say in the matter. Some Fremen men have no qualms about rape through force or deception. In Dune Messiah, Farok's son gives semuta to Otheym's daughter "in the hope of winning a woman of the [Fremen] for himself despite his blindness." Farok speaks casually about the conquest of Naraj and his son's forced impregnation of Naraj women.
      Farok: I find it curious, though, to know I have grandchildren on Naraj that I may never see.
    • The noble houses of Dune are rigidly patriarchal, headed only by men. Female nobles and concubines do find ways to manipulate events, but it is always behind the scenes. The noble houses also practice arranged marriage, or in Irulan's case, forced marriage.
    • Even the all-female Bene Geserit sisterhood doesn't fully escape this trope. Granted, Reverend Mothers wield a great deal of power, and the sisterhood provides women with elite training and avenues for getting ahead. However, the sisterhood also exerts rigid control over initiates' sexual and reproductive lives for the sake of its selective breeding program, deciding who they will marry, who they will have sex with, and when and if they will bear children. The idea that initiates might have other plans is never considered.
  • Earth's Children has a more complicated example when it comes to the society of the Clan (Neanderthals).
    • The Clan are quite patriarchal; men are always the leaders or Mog-urs (shamans) and generally have more power and respect within the Clan. Women of the Clan have to obey men, being trained to be attentive to their needs and also being required to let any man who 'makes the signal' have sex with her. Men of the Clan are allowed to use corporal punishment against women who are disobedient, though beating them bloody is frowned upon, and women are raised to be generally meek and submissive to men. They usually have no status in their own right, instead gaining status through their mates. Daily tasks are also strictly gendered; men do hunting and make tools and weapons, whilst women gather food, cook and clean. It is considered bad luck for a woman to even touch a weapon and they can be executed (usually via the death curse) if caught using one. They must also isolate themselves when they get their periods.
    • However, this isn't entirely their fault. Some of the entrenched gender roles are not so much cultural as they are biological; over generations, the Clan became so used to having one sex perform particular tasks and roles, they lost the genetic memories they rely on to do the opposite. In other words, most Clan women are incapable of learning how to hunt, nor would they have the desire to do so. The same applies to men and because of this, they are dependent on each other for survival. For this reason, Iza believes that despite outward appearances, deep down the Clan know that men and women are both equally important. As such, most women don't feel any lesser and most men treat them with respect and dignity - a man who fixates on tormenting and abusing a woman, such as in the case of Ayla and Broud, is seen as shameful and lacking in character. Medicine women are also very powerful; they're the only women in the Clan who have status in their own right, are deferred to by everyone in regards to medical matters, and believed to wield strong magic to heal people effectively. Clan men have been known to appreciate strength and courage in a woman; Brun, though it makes him a bit uncomfortable and he rarely openly shows it, is clearly impressed by Ayla's skill with a sling and ability to survive the death curse, and comes to respect her, whilst Guban is pleasantly surprised when Yorga begins fighting off the gang that attacked them to protect him. Clan women also feel sexual desire like Cro-Magnon women and can display this in their own way; they have certain postures and gestures they use to try and encourage a man to 'make the Signal' at her and do other things to get a man's attention. Of course, this is only referring to Clan women. For Cro-Magnon women living amongst the Clan, it's a lot more difficult and oppressive.
  • The trials and tribulations of the female characters in The Good Earth remind readers that pre-revolution China was a scary place to be female. Men had absolute authority over their wives, concubines, and children. The social acceptability of polygyny and concubinage meant that a wife's status in the home was never secure. The absence of contraception meant that women could expect to bear large numbers of children and suffer reproductive health problems as a result. Girls born to impoverished families could be killed as infants or sold into slavery, where a life of servitude, physical abuse, and sexual violence awaited them. Middle and upper class girls were subjected to foot binding and child marriage.
  • Gor most certainly is: women are prized as objects of conquest, so in places where the risk of sudden seizure is great, High Caste Free Women are heavily covered to make raiders uncertain if they're worth the risk and accompanied by security level tantamount to house arrest while slave girls are left exposed as the more attractive targets. In areas where the risk is slight (such as Torvaldsland, which is too cold for the flying Tarns, too rocky for mounted raiders, and longboat raids can be detected well in advance), the Free Women wear less cover and get ultimate political clout within their household... however, they can still be enslaved by their husbands.note 
  • Margret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale gives us the future Dystopia of Gilead, where women are second and-third-class citizens whose status is determined by their fertility. Taking it a step further, lesbians, rebellious women, and women with compromised fertility (which is the majority of them due to contamination and disease) are forced into prostitution if they're lucky or sent to work as slaves in toxic environments until they die horribly if they're not. This is made more disturbing by the fact that those who are charged with the task of indoctrinating women into such a life of servitude, The Aunts, are other women.
  • Grayson and Masada in the Honor Harrington stories are both introduced as gender-imbalanced worlds with obligate polygamy where women have no rights or access to education. The situation of women on Grayson and especially their marital arrangements are later portrayed in an idealized way, while Masada continues to be a rape-happy dystopia, though Grayson is more chivalrous than Masada, and that their other hat is adaptability. Thus after exposure to foreign powers and particularly seeing Honor in action, they begin reforms. Still, their world suffers from a high mortality rate among male infants, so plural marriages remain a fact of life.
  • In It Can't Happen Here, the fascist Windrip regime robs women of many rights and bars them from most occupations, and the Minute Men (M.M.s) perpetrate atrocities against women with impunity. Lorinda and Sissy chafe under the regime's misogyny.
  • Land of Oz: Surprisingly enough, the Nome Kingdom in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, making this Older Than They Think. The Nomes are the sworn enemies of Oz (which is a matriarchy), and the Nomes make sure that anything feminine is verboten.
  • Sweden is portrayed like this in the Millennium Series. If you're a female character in this trilogy, you will be discriminated against, abused, raped, and/or killed. There are no exceptions. A healthy bit of Fridge Horror as well, since the author was Swedish and supposedly based on the book on real observations. If Sweden, vaunted for its gender equality, is such a Crapsack Country, what about the rest of the world?
  • In The Mister, Albania comes across as a misogynistic hellhole; women are rarely seen out on the streets because it's not proper, they're expected to wait on their husbands or fathers hand and foot, domestic violence against women is common, and Alessia's father sold her into marriage without consulting her.
  • Armethalieh in The Obsidian Trilogy is this, to the extent that the high mages go as far as to erase women mages' memories and block parts of their brains rather than let them use — or even admit that they are capable of using — magic.
  • The Reluctant King: In L. Sprague de Camp's novel The Honorable Barbarian, Princess Nogiri of Salimor comments that Kerin of Novaria, with whom she has just entered into a Citizenship Marriage, is an incredible man and husband and wonders why all Salimorese women don't go to Novaria to find such wonderful men. The primary reason she says this is that Kerin doesn't beat her when she argues with him.
  • In Raymond E Feist's The Riftwar Cycle, there is an ethnic group called the Ashuntai who treat their women as property, to the point where women can be punished for wearing clothes. This makes it all the more interesting when we learn that they are part of the same empire as another Ethnic group, the Brijaners, who worship women as sacred.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The settings are all hostile to women to varying extents, although Dorne is better than most and in at least one tribe of wildlings, women are encouraged to deal with an abusive husband by stabbing him in his sleep. The writer often uses female characters' story arcs to explore the essentially patriarchal nature of medieval society and most standard fantasy settings (which as a rule don't dwell on this) and take it to a whole new level. For example, Sansa Stark becomes disillusioned when she realizes that highborn girls are treated like chattel by their fathers and husbands, Daenerys explicitly considers arranged marriage a form of slavery, and Arya witnesses firsthand the horrible brutality inflicted on peasant women. Cersei Lannister despite being in high position as Queen regent, her power and authority greatly depended on her son(s) being the king of Westeros, and she is mostly a pawn to other people, her Father Tywin Lannister, along with Littlefinger and Varys.
    • The Ironborn is something of an weird spot. In addition to the same Westeros restrictions for women applying there, they also encourage abducting women into raids to serve as "salt wives" (concubines) and its completely fine to kill them if someone else sleeps with them or Gods forbid, if they were raped. On the other hand, they do tolerate female fighters if they prove capable enough like Asha Greyjoy, but they also won't abide having female rulers.
    • The society most hostile to women in the setting are the Dothraki, an hyper-masculine Barbarian Tribe that expects women and girls to be only mothers and wives, are little better than slaves that can be beaten and raped by whoever wants them until one man decides he wishes to keep them. Even then, a woman is only safe so long as her "husband" is strong enough to scare off or kill any man who tries to steal her from him and sometimes not even from him. One Lhazareen dosh kaleen reminisces how she was forced to have a khal's child and he broke her ribs when it turned out to be a female - she was less than 16 when that happened. Even the dosh khaleen, the widows of deceased khals that serve as the spiritual leaders of the Dothraki, are still forced to live as prisoners in a gilded cage, forbidden from ever leaving Vaes Dothrak and sworn to celibacy, whether they want to or not. And they are the most respected out of their women.
  • In Sorcerer To The Crown, only men are allowed to become sorcerers; magical talent is seen as very embarrassing in an upper class girl, and there is a school where young ladies are taught to not use magic, and even to use a spell based on an illegal, lethal spell on themselves to drain themselves of magic. (Though the protagonist, Zacharias, initially agrees that women should not be taught magic, the use of this spell horrifies him enough to reconsider his stance.)
  • In a story from the Star Wars Expanded Universe anthology Tales of the New Republic, Mara Jade accepts a mission to rescue a man's daughter from an extremely misogynistic and speciesist alien who loathes human women, and subjects them to extremely humiliating and abusive forced labor on his private moon. It's pretty clear where things go once the former Emperor's Hand infiltrates his slave pits...
  • The Stepford Wives has Stepford, where the men have killed their wives and replaced them with "perfect" robot women.
  • Subverted in The Stormlight Archive. While there are many societal roles that women are banned from filling (women can't be soldiers, rulers, or most kinds of artisan, for example), there are equally important societal roles that men are banned from filling. For example, it is considered profoundly immoral for men to learn to read or write, meaning that nearly all scholarly pursuits are woman-exclusive.
  • The short story "Taboos" by Mary Caraker. Among other things, women are forbidden literacy.
  • Played with in the Terok Nor novel series. Cardassian women typically aren't allowed to serve as active duty military or other similarly dangerous jobs after marriage, and infertile women typically have the marriage annulled and are outcast (as happens to Corat Damar's fiancee Veja Ketan in Night of the Wolves). However, Malyn Ocett, a gulnote  as of Star Trek: The Next Generation, actually joined the military because she was barren (and thus poor marriage material), and Cardassians view women as being superior to men at science and engineering occupations.
  • The past is treated this way in Time Scout. Qurac is explicitly called as much. The downtimer Muslim cult is presented as rabidly misogynistic, especially hating the revived worship of Artemis because it has a female deity.
  • Although dragon society in general operates as this trope in Tooth and Claw, the capital region of Irieth is specifically implied to be especially harsh and unwelcoming to female dragons. Maiden dragons are at great risk of being made dinner for larger, more powerful males if a particularly overbearing standard of beauty and dowager value isn't met, though worse is reputed to take place. Marriage markets exist where maidens are sold off to the highest bidders, and to a more unseemly degree, there exist concubinages that also sell compromised maidens — all with the blessing of the draconic culture's Church.
  • Victoria is strongly implied to be this as the Victorians are harshly opposed to feminism and hostile to the idea of women working and particularly in the military, in favor of minding their 'sphere' of the home. When the Victorians defeat the armies of Lady Land Azania, those who do not become good housewives are sold into slavery in the Middle East to "experience real patriarchal oppression." Not to mention the novel begins and ends with a woman being burned at the stake for claiming to be a Christian bishop. Note that the narrative portrays all of this positively.
  • Vorkosigan Saga:
    • Barrayar is a unique example where the No Woman's Land is both the protagonist's home country and is neither presented as a utopia nor dystopia, and they are becoming saner by the time of the story. Barrayaran women have no citizenship rights, and in Memory, when serving as the "Second" (read Best Man) at the Emperor Gregor's engagement party, Miles reads from a long list of traditional Admonitions to the bride which are clearly instructions for obedience. Pretty much every non-Barrayaran person Miles meets thinks of his country as a hellhole on this score. Then you meet Lady Alys, the Professora, etc. and learn law and practice are two different things.
    • In Ethan of Athos, Athos is a planet composed entirely of men, no women allowed whatsoever. It was founded by a gynophobic sect of Christianity, making it a Cult Colony as well. Thanks to Uterine Replicator technology they can actually make it work, though a sudden shortage of viable eggs kicks off the plot of the short story "Ethan of Athos" as the aforementioned Ethan ventures into the wider galaxy in search of replacements. It's a bit of a learning experience for him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: The season 1 episode "She" features female demons, who turn out to be refugees from another dimension where the female of the species has her personality removed when she comes of age to make them easier to control. This is done by removing part of their spine and renders the subject docile.
  • A Dr. Phil arc featured a girl (about 19) who moved to the Middle East to marry a boy she'd met on the Internet. The point was heavily delivered that if she married him while over there, she would lose all her rights as a person. So her parents smuggled her back and revoked her passport and had her date an American boy. It was basically said by Phil that Arab men seek out American women to brainwash and hold hostage. In another episode where the girl was featured, it turned out they were right.
  • Firefly:
    • In the episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds", Saffron says that on her planet a woman is always subservient to the male until her father/brother uses her as payment for something, or sells her. This may or may not be true, but the crew of Serenity certainly buys her story.
    • "Heart of Gold" features a planet (or at least those in charge) of Straw Misogynists, to the point that working in a brothel is seen as a better life for those who work there simply because the owner is a woman who treats them with basic human decency.
  • The adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale has the Republic of Gilead, where woman cannot own property, work, read or write, or do anything else freely, and effectively have no rights now. Women who are seen as proper can become Wives (of the ruling elite), Econowives (married to ordinary men), Aunts (who train Handmaids), or Marthas (domestic workers) and be treated with a measure of respect. However, women who are seen as "fallen" (i.e. anyone whose life before Gilead doesn't mesh with a strict, fundamentalist Christian worldview), are forced to become Handmaids (concubines of the elite men whose bear children in place of an infertile wife) or Jezebels (prostitutes). Fallen women who refuse to become Handmaids or Jezebels are executed or become Unwomen, prisoners who are sent to the Colonies to die a slow death from radiation poisoning as they clean up toxic waste. Flashbacks show scenes of the process of women losing their rights, where Offred's (then June) credit and debit cards stop working, and all the women are then fired from their jobs under the eyes of armed guards. Serena Joy, one of the architects of the formation of Gilead, is now one of its victims, being subject to the same disciplinary actions as all women are under the authority of Gilead's male figures.
  • Implied in one episode of How I Met Your Mother.
    Barney: At one point, I'm pretty sure I sold a woman. I didn't speak the language, but I shook a guy's hand, he gave me the keys to a Mercedes, and I left her there.
  • The JAG episode "Head to Toe" centers on this. A female soldier is defending herself on not wearing an abaya, and arguments are made for abiding by the culture and appeasing terrorists (Osama bin Laden is even quoted as Americans in the Middle East being cause for Jihads, meaning the abayas will protect women) and against the subjugation of women and treatment of foreigners. When Mac is subjected to this poor treatment she sides with the defendant.
  • A particularly horrifying example in the Masters of Horror episode "The Screwfly Solution", directed by Joe Dante and based on a story by James Tiptree Jr., a.k.a. Alice Sheldon. Every man on the planet becomes violently misogynistic and kills every woman they can find, ending the future of the human race. This is later revealed to be an alien Hate Plague plot to depopulate the Earth and take over.
  • The BBC miniseries Occupation toyed with this — one of the British ex-soldiers who returned to Afghanistan states that the problem with Afghan culture is that "they've got no respect for women". As he says this, he is framed by the camera sitting in his office, which has several objectifying pin-ups plastered all over the wall behind him. However, it's also played uncomfortably straight when the most central female character is fridged by the boy who prompted this comment. Evidence would suggest that Afghan culture's lack of respect for women goes to a far more horrifying level than having racy posters on the walls.
  • The Power (2023): Women in Saudi Arabia and Carpathia (a country that is based on Moldova) have it worse than most. Therefore, it's no surprise they revolt (with varying levels of violence) after developing the skein and realizing they can change things for themselves using it.
  • Stargate SG-1: Occurs with the Jaffa. "Birthright" introduces Ishta and the Hak'tyl ("liberation"), a group of female Jaffa who have fled the domain of Moloch, a Goa'uld who has female infants put to death. Ishta also tells Teal'c that she is from a world where "women aren't held in such high regard", that she was one wife of many, and that she was mistreated. Later, after the downfall of the Goa'uld, Ka'lel (the representative of the Hak'tyl to the Jaffa high council) reveals that many regions oppose giving any rights to female Jaffa.
  • In Star Trek, the Ferengi exemplify this trope to an extreme. Ferengi women aren't allowed to handle money, think for themselves, or wear clothes. They also pre-chew their sons' food. This begins to change when one Ferengi woman points out that the society is handicapping its ability to turn a profit by disenfranchising half its population. Given that the planet's hat is materialism, this is seen as a very valid point, and begins to bring about change.
  • Here's The West Wing's C.J. Cregg, responding to an incident in the show based on the 2002 Makkah girls' school fire:
    C.J. Cregg: Outraged? I'm barely surprised. This is a country where women aren't allowed to drive a car. They're not allowed to be in the company of any man other than a close relative. They're required to adhere to a dress code that would make a Maryknoll nun look like Malibu Barbie. They beheaded 121 people last year for robbery, rape, and drug trafficking. No free press, no elected government, no political parties. And the royal family allows the religious police to travel in groups of six, carrying nightsticks, and they freely and publicly beat women. But "Brutus is an honorable man." Seventeen schoolgirls were forced to burn alive because they weren't wearing the proper clothing. Am I outraged? No, Steve. No, Chris. No, Mark. That is Saudi Arabia, our partners in peace...note 

    Myths & Religion 
  • It is rumoured that no woman was allowed to enter the Czech castle Karlstein, as it was supposed to be a place of relaxation and meditation. It is likely a misconception coming from a ban on sleeping with women in a room which would later be dedicated to holding a chapel. Nevertheless, the myth gave birth to a play A Night at Karlstein by Jaroslav Vrchlický (and later a musical film) in which Empress Elise of Pomerania (who could purportedly bend iron rods) and a girl named Alena visit their beloved — Emperor Charles IV and a cup-bearer Pešek — while disguised as men.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Unusual for a futuristic setting where race has largely become a non-topic, the early Draconis Combine of BattleTech was notably misogynistic—few women are allowed to be warriors, none are officers of any notable rank, and for the most part women are expected to be a Yamato Nadeshiko at-best. This is not helped by the ultranationalist Black Dragon Society, whose hyper-traditionalist views hold women in even further contempt. Things eased off during Theodore Kurita and Hohiro Kurita's reigns, and eventually a woman, Yori Kurita, would actually ascend to the Coordinatorship (by virtue of all other ruling Kuritas being dead, but still). Yori's reign turned out to be one of the most military aggressive and successful in Combine history, effortlessly shaming the stagnation of the Combine under more misogynistic prior regimes.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, this is what happens in any area where the highly misogynistic Demon Lord Kostchtchie is worshipped. Women are second-class, fit only for breeding strong sons and waiting on their menfolk.
  • One of the many, many flaws in F.A.T.A.L. is turning medieval Europe into one of these. Granted, the Dark Ages weren't known for their contributions to Women's Liberation, but... half of the world's males being rapists? And getting less punishment than a wife keeping a disorderly house? Really?
  • Renegade Legion: Under the Terran Overlord Government, women are property of their fathers or husbands. They are allowed to join the military, but are limited in rank to Centurion Maximus. Many women defected to the Renegade Legions after the law was enacted.
  • In Spawn of Fashan, the basic rules assume that your character is male. If you want to play a female, you have to divide your die rolls for strength by 2, and multiply your die rolls for charisma by 1.5. Since the rules are already obscure and hard-to-follow enough as it is, most players (if there were any) would choose to play a male just because it would simplify their lives. (But don't worry, the game isn't sexist, because the authors say in the introduction that they're not sexist so it must be true.)
  • In Spelljammer, the Romani equivalents known as Aperusa are like this. Men get all the glory and are unequivocally in charge, whilst women do all of the actual work of keeping their ships and families running. There are also separate rules for men and women — for example, widowers are encouraged to remarry, but widows are expected to take lifelong vows of chastity. It's also noted that Aperusa men love to seduce gullible, ignorant women who fall for the "romanticism" of the Aperusa lifestyle, only to find out after the wedding that they've condemned themselves to a life of backbreaking labor looking after a vain, lecherous, quasi-space-gypsy.
  • Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game by White Wolf says female trolls are just breeding stock and property used to make more trolls. World of Warcraft heavily disagrees however, as there are many female troll leaders like Arlokk, Mar'li, Lor'khan, Jeklik, and Primal Torntusk in various troll tribes, various troll males treating their mates with respect, and troll mooks coming in both genders. It also states this about quilboars, who are practically matriarchal in World of Warcraft. But then, the tabletop RPG came out several years before the MMORPG did, and two entirely separate teams of people worked on both versions, so it's not so surprising the lore went in different directions.
  • Warhammer:
    • The female Skaven have been relegated into mindless sex slaves and breeding machines. The person who created the brood mothers has pointed out that although they're the only females explicitly mentioned, that doesn't mean they're the only female Skaven that exist, but it doesn't make their situation any less horrifying.
    • Bretonnia is a chivalric medieval version of this trope: Women are considered second-class citizens that are not allowed to own property, fight, or take any part in politics, but men are also expected to open doors for them, protect them, and be courteous to them. It should be noted this mostly applies to the noble class, as the peasants tend to be more egalitarian as a simple matter of pragmatism (Bretonnian peasants aren't allowed to own property, fight, or get involved in politics anyway). Naturally, citizens of The Empire (which has gender equality as a basic right) use this trope on them a lot. It's balanced out somewhat by Bretonnian spellcasters being exclusively female (they're the result of young girls being taken into the forests and brought back... different; young boys taken the same way are never seen again).

    Video Games 
  • The unnamed Kingdom from the RPG Maker game Didnapper is portrayed as this due to the huge amount of girls getting kidnapped for ransom by Criminal Guilds. It's usually played for Fanservice and Black Humor.
  • Dragon Age plays with this trope in a setting where generally Gender Is No Object:
    • The Tevinter Imperium which has this reputation across Thedas because unlike other countries influenced by the Chantry (which is controlled by an always female Divine), Tevinter has its own Chantry where the Divine is always male. In addition, many tales are spread about how women from non-Tevinter countries are kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery. While this is true, they do it to everyone else regardless of gender. Also female magisters are just as common (and as wicked) as their male counterparts and with the exception of becoming Divine, no office is barred from them - just like men are barred from being Divines in Southern Thedas.
    • Played with the Qunari. They have very strict gender roles that bar women from fighting (which sticks out in a World of Action Girls) and they are relegated to spiritual or teacher roles. Having said that, they aren't necessarily considered lesser (nor are men considered better) but play an very integral role in their society. Even then, the Qunari find the concept of female warriors so unusual that they view them as male instead.
  • Caesar's Legion in Fallout: New Vegas. Women are pretty much just to cook, mend wounds, be sex toys, and make more little barbarian legionnaires. They are explicitly stated to be nothing but property; every woman in the Legion is a slave who is raped, beaten, and brutalized by soldiers daily. If you play a female character and side against the Legion, en masse Death by Irony will ensue upon the Legion. The real kicker here is that one of the female slaves in the Legion's stronghold will warn you that some of the Legion soldiers are planning on raping YOU if you play as a female character. As a side note, there was originally a plan to have female priestesses in the Legion's Imperial Cult, but this didn't wind up being shown in the final game and it's unknown if it's still canon.
  • Intentionally exaggerated by Amita in Far Cry 4: Yes, Kyrat was a horribly misogynistic country where girls were expected to be engaged at the age of six, but the religion that enforces this worships a goddess as their Crystal Dragon Jesus, and the effective pope of the land was always a woman by tradition. In recent years, the reign of tyrant leader Pagan Min has pushed La Résistance to enlist female soldiers with Pagan himself is also an Equal-Opportunity Evil despot who have no qualms on employing women in many important positions and roles of his regime, and the arena is run by topless ladies with assault rifles.
  • In Faria, the town of Beig will outright deny you from entering due to your main character being female. After you defeat the Wizard and break the curse that transformed you into a woman to prevent his prophesied defeat, you will be allowed to enter.
  • The Jugdral games (Genealogy of the Holy War and Thracia 776) are set on a continent where women do not have easy lives. Bandits frequently Rape, Pillage, and Burn, but even noblewomen who nominally have the protection of a castle are in danger of abduction and forced marriage if everyone else in the country is busy. It gets worse in the second half, particularly in the occupied country of Isaach. Two potential party members speak of the dangers they've personally faced, and a third becomes visibly unsettled if a male unit stands near her for multiple turns.
  • The modern Island of Yamatai in Tomb Raider is a literal no-woman's land because the male inhabitants would promptly sacrifice any females who had the misfortune to wash ashore in an attempt to appease the Goddess Himiko.

  • This turns out to be the case in at least one of the Puritan Territories called Sybion in Collar 6, Laura's homeland. Because of a severe gender imbalance, women are required to submit to men sexually in the hopes of conceiving a male child, and women are ranked by their fertility. The main setting consists of characters in consensual BDSM relationships as a contrast, with the exception of one villain who explicitly uses force on her slaves.
  • TwoKinds: Wolf clans are extremely sexist; Natani had to hide her gender because they wouldn't accept female soldiers. Everywhere else has equal-gender rights, even if racism is at an all-time high during the story. Though, the Basitins segregate the men's houses from the women's, but that's mainly because they have a low libido so it works out.
  • Unsounded Duane Adelier's home country of Alderode doesn't give you a ton of options if you're female; women are meant to be wives and mothers (or if they're of the Platinum caste, 'encouraged' to go into the sex trade) and little else. They're not expected to have jobs, and they're not allowed to own property, vote or even use pymary, this world's version of magic. It says a lot when a woman's best option for real power and autonomy is to choose to become a Third Option and legally become a man; plenty of women from the Copper caste, who are relatively more liberated thanks to their long lifespans, take this route. The other countries on the continent, particularly the matriarchal Cresce, condemn such misogyny.

    Western Animation 
  • In American Dad!, Francine stands up to the treatment of Saudi women with a musical number, and gets arrested for singing in public and dressing indecently. Later Haley gets arrested for beating up a guy who she thought was terrorist but actually works in a shawarma stand. note  Steve sells Roger (dressed as a woman) into sex slavery, and it's treated as perfectly normal.
  • In Batman: Gotham Knight, the flashback sequences of the "Working Through Pain" vignette where Bruce Wayne goes to India for pain-control training seemed to be set in one of these. The female mentor Bruce Wayne seeks out is a pariah by her local community because she dared to undergo Training from Hell reserved for Men Only. This is in spite of the fact that in real life India women who make it as female warriors are highly respected and have led entire armies as far back the twelfth century.
  • Cromania in Close Enough is an exaggerated example of this, having such a sexist regime that women are jailed for not laughing at their husband's jokes and have to ask permission to even speak. The leader of the country thinks that Emily and Bridgettte's ironic, tongue-in-cheek song "Men Rock" is actually a song praising men for treating women like dirt and arranged to have them sing it as propaganda for a nationally televised broadcast. When they realize this, they sing a new song encouraging the women live as they choose and stand up for themselves. This encourages the women to rise up against the regime. However, they apparently went too far with it, and Cromania is now the exact opposite of what it once was.
  • In the King of the Hill episode "Joust Like a Woman", the entire Renaissance Faire was created as one by a misogynistic real estate developer who fancies himself a king. It was so bad ("...the village idiot has full dental!") that Peggy, who recently got employed there, fought for women's rights. The Faire is like a whole 'nother country, and while the real Middle Ages weren't always the friendliest era when it came to women's rights, the real estate developer goes overboard with it.


Video Example(s):


Taliban controlled Afghanistan

The movie The Breadwinner does not hold back on it's depiction of how women were treated in Afghanistan during the rule of the Taliban, where getting caught without a male escort and showing pictures, could at best lead to severe and brutal beatings from the men, such is the case for Parvana's mother Fattema.

How well does it match the trope?

4.2 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / NoWomansLand

Media sources: