Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

Books Without Women: What If Female Characters Went on Strike

Alice Burton

Staff Writer

Chicagoan and aspiring cryptozoologist Alice Burton has a B.A. in Comparative Literature and is an Archives Assistant with the Frances Willard Historical Society. When not booking or historying, she is singing soprano wherever people will have her. She will watch any documentary on Neanderthals or giant extinct animals, and has a Stockholm Syndrome-like love for Chicago and its winters. Blog: Reading Rambo Twitter: @itsalicetime

The all-too-familiar picture below sparked a range of reactions, pretty much from anger to exhausted sighing as a group of 100% men once again gathered to make sweeping judgments about life-saving health issues for women:


The recent International Women’s Day protest “A Day Without Women” involved the Women’s March organizers asking women to stay home to accentuate the powerful but often unacknowledged role they play in society. This protest obviously begged the question – what would that look like in books? What if the women in our celebrated novels just walked off the page in protest? Hopefully to do something nice for themselves like take a bath or have a snack or go bowling (I cannot tell you how much I want to see Scarlett O’Hara go bowling). What would our books look like without them?

Here are some ideas:

Little Women. A young man named Laurie comes to stay with his grandfather. “What’s that empty house next door?” he asks.

Anne of Green Gables. A bachelor farmer called Matthew dies alone and unloved.

Pride and Prejudice. Mr Darcy looks around suddenly, his brow creased in confusion. “What, erm…what was I upset with you about again?” Mr Wickham too looks perplexed. “I think…wait, no. No, that can’t be it.” They continue staring at each other in bewilderment until a curtain slowly lowers and ends the book.

The Little Princess. There is no Little Princess. There is no Frances Hodgson Burnett. Sorry.

Harry Potter. An eleven-year-old orphan and his only friend are smothered by a large plant.

The Taming of the Shrew. Petruchio comes to Padua to make his fortune, but has no life skills so he starves to death.

Treasure Island. Everyone is pretty much fine.

What would happen in your favorite books if there were no women?