A Feminist Revenge Fantasy

I first heard the term “feminist revenge fantasy” on Instagram this past summer in reference to the novel “The Bandit Queens” by Parini Shroff. After spending years trying to find my place in the publishing world, I was immediately attracted to the phrase, and now that I’ve read several feminist revenge fantasies, I appreciate the distinct plots that connote the genre. Feminist revenge fantasies are stories about strong, independent women who act boldly against the rules to move fast and break things. What rules you might ask? The gender rules, spoken and unspoken, that define how a woman is to behave. For example, the phrase “move fast and break things” is a Silicon Valley tech bro maxim for how to succeed in business. Women aren’t expected to move fast and break things. In a feminist revenge fantasy women behave as men do.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Here are some of the books I’ve read recently in addition to “The Bandit Queens” that I would recommend as feminist revenge fantasies: “Red Clocks” by Leni Zuma, “The Power” by Naomi Alderman, “Educated” by Tara Westover, “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens, “Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus, and “Killers of a Certain Age” by Deanna Raybourn. There are also a few films that come to mind, like 1980’s “9 to 5,” 1991’s “Thelma & Louise,” 1997’s “Jackie Brown,” 2009’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” and most recently Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie.” Also there’s a new play crisscrossing the country, a gender-bending tale about toxic masculinity called “Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy, Really.” 

I started writing “Clitapalooza: Her flower blooms power” in 2021 before I was tuned into the idea of feminist revenge fantasies. My driving interest was the confluence of sex toy technology and women’s sex lives in a world where purity culture still dominates social norms. Exhibit A for that assertion is the lack of social acceptance for the word clitoris. Just saying clitoris makes some people squeamish, and yet female orgasms are being monetized by a sex tech industry predicted to top $40 BILLION this year. One may attend a business development conference on Sex with Robots and learn programming skills at Sex Tech School. When we shun the word clitoris and the knowledge that goes with it, we leave ourselves vulnerable to this onslaught. 

Sex tech is exploding while sex education remains controversial, anatomy class does not include the clitoris, and most people can’t tell you the difference between gender and sex. All of us can draw a penis and explain what it does. Can you draw a clitoris and explain what it does? I know how unprepared I was for menopause. Are we prepared for this technology invasion of our intimate lives? Are we ensuring girls are prepared for sex apps and digital lovers? 

“Clitapalooza” is the story of a woman who plays games with her sex life and gets caught in a digital trap. I wanted to write about this because I honestly believe that women aren’t going to be safe and healthy as long as we can’t name our body parts in public and talk openly about how they work. Sex tech is being marketed as health and wellness for women, and yet we have a healthcare system that often fails to include our sexual health and our sex organs. Who can we trust? For starters, I think we can help protect each other by talking openly about these topics.  

In “Clitapalooza,” the main character has a beautiful sex life with her husband until she stops taking it seriously. Then her vibrator starts talking to her toothbrush, and they appear to be conspiring against her. But she’s too embarrassed to get help from her husband, or lawyers and law enforcement, so she enlists her friends in her defense. Fortunately, her best friend’s a doctor, her yoga pals love her, and her students know computer code. The problem is, she’s made a game of her sex life and now she wants to quit, but she didn’t read the fine print and she’s going to have to hack her way out of the internet jungle. 

“Clitapalooza” is girl talk on steroids, a feminist revenge fantasy with a spicy romance and a technology twist, set in a contemporary college town and told from multiple points of view, including 60-ish women, college students, a biotech scientist, and a very perplexed husband. It’s a wild ride through one woman’s body and the future of sex tech. You will laugh out loud. 

After a year of due diligence seeking a literary agent and a publisher for “Clitapalooza,” I have heard it called a dirty book, pornography, erotica, low brow, offensive, and shameful. One agent told me women don’t read books about robots. One of my beta readers said she had never read a book with explicit sex scenes that wasn’t dumb. My book is smart, prescient, informative and funny. Every corner of our lives has been invaded by artificial intelligence. The clitoris is not sacred, it’s a target. If you can’t find it, some technology entrepreneur will. 

I am self-publishing “Clitapalooza: Her flower blooms power” with the target release date of Galentine’s Day 2024. Stay tuned. 

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