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

It's certainly true that women have, in many countries, a lesser social or legal status than men and that leaves one very vulnerable. This trope is not about the realistic representation of this problem but the way that media present it.

If you believe fiction, one thing is true: Abroad is a misogynist hell. "Abroad" doesn't need to mean any non-western society because "abroad" just means "the other place with people who are different than us and are therefore of lesser quality" which is why this trope exists.

Abroad, every husband is a lazy cheating bastard who beats his wife to a bloody pulp and sells his daughters to the highest bidder; 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. It's a Crapsack World if you're a woman, and in that, it's the reverse of the Lady Land trope.

This trope is not only the portrayal of the Islamic world. India, Southeast Asia, and the whole African continent don't get off well either.

Related to: Damsel in Distress, But It Really Happened! and probably many other tropes. Medieval Morons sees people of another time as essentially cruel and stupid. Contrast Lady Land.

Heh. Abroad.

Examples of No Woman's Land include:


Anime and Manga

  • 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.
  • Lots and lots of Hentai. Let's just keep it at that.

Comic Books

  • 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.

Fan Works

Film

  • 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.
  • 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. The implication seems to be that every Thai man abuses his girlfriend, while the Thai women are not only too weak to leave, they're even too stupid to realize that they're wronged. Slightly mitigated in that, being prison, this isn't an average cross section of society, and it's more An Aesop to show how minor Bridget's problems are in comparison.
  • See also Bangkok Hilton, which is a female-centered version of Midnight Express.
  • 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 itself.
  • A particularly notorious use of the trope is the Hong Kong "Women in Prison" sexploitation flick Bamboo House of Dolls, in which the Japanese capture a bunch of American nurses in China during World War II and subject them and their Chinese cellmates to various forms of torture and sexual abuse. There may be some truth to that premise, though it's probably far from a documentary.
  • 300 has the unfortunate Persian messenger astounded to see that the Spartans allow women (or at least, the queen) to speak at a counsel. This is generally assumed to be part of the film's attempt to portray the Greco-Persian war as an allegory for The War on Terror. In reality, while on the one hand Spartan women did enjoy more rights than in any other Greek city-state (Dido's line, "Only Spartan women give birth to real men," was directed at the Athenians in "historical" record), Persian women on the other hand enjoyed more rights than Spartan women at the time, and Spartan women were only given self defense lessons because they believed that women who could fight gave birth to strong babies, which actually turned out to be true since more physically fit women are more likely to survive childbirth (and thus bear more than one child), which was certainly a major consideration at that point in time.

Literature

  • Stepford, where guys kill their wives and replace them with "perfect" robot women.
  • 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. [1]
  • The short story Taboos by Mary Caraker. Among other things, women are forbidden literacy.
  • 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 men 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Barrayar in the Miles Vorkosigan series 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, he 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.
  • 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.
  • Sheri S. Tepper plays this trope for all it's worth. As her novels are primarily sci-fi/fantasy, example's of No Womans Land are not so much abroad as they are off-planet. Raising the Stones, Sideshow, Shadow's End, Gibbon's Decline and Fall offer examples of entire planets that are women-unfriendly. Subverted in Six Moon Dance.
  • 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.
  • Sweden is portrayed like this in The Millennium Trilogy. If you're a female character in this trilogy, you will be discriminated against, abused, raped and/or killed. There are no exceptions.
  • Surprisingly enough, the Nome Kingdom in Baum's Oz books, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Lord of the Rings, we never see a female dwarf. Ever. They're not even described. Fans to this day are in disagreement over whether female dwarves have beards.
  • Though averted in the canon Warrior Cats series, a plot in one roleplay is about a 'pseudoclan' (group of loners who are structured much like a Clan) called SkullClan which is basically this.

Live Action TV

  • A recent Doctor Phil arc featured a girl (19, I think) 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. You know where this goes. In another episode where the girl was featured, it turned out they were right.
  • In the Firefly 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.
    • The viewer does as well, given that it's a Joss Whedon show. His track record with straw misogynists is well established, and this trope is played dead straight in episodes like "Heart of Gold", and an overall Crapsack Galaxy where there are planets that do much worse than mistreat women. Like where they juggle geese.
      • Baby geese, goslings!
      • They were juggled!
  • 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.

  • Played very anviliciously in the early Stargate SG-1 episode "Emancipation" which featured Samantha Carter becoming a Blithe Spirit on a planet with this as their hat.
  • 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.
  • A particularly horrifying example in "The Screwfly Solution," an episode of Masters of Horror directed by Joe Dante and based on a story by James Tiptree, Jr., aka Alice Sheldon. Every man on the planet becomes violently misogynistic. This is later revealed to be an alien plot to depopulate the Earth and take over.
    • A similar plot was used on the Joss Whedon (again) show Angel in the season 3 episode "Billy". The touch of the episode's villain turns men (including a couple of the protagonists) into murderous misogynists. In this case, it wasn't so much horrifying as it was Anvilicious.
  • 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 husbands' food.
    • Though 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.
  • The JAG episodeHead 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.

Newspaper Comics

  • Elbonia of the Dilbert comics.
  • Non Sequitur has had a good many Sunday strips, showing one human and a few other male animals drinking and eating junk food on a couch together, all pre-women, of course.
    • The human in question is Adam, and Eve hasn't been created yet, making this a literal example of the trope.
  • Berkely Breathed's Outland had the Men's Couch for Opus, Bill the Cat and Milquetoast the Cockroach- a very similar concept to the one used in Non Sequitur.

Tabletop Games

  • One of the many, many flaws in FATAL is turning medieval Europe into one of these. Granted, the Dark Ages weren't known for their contributions to Women's Liberation, but...
  • The female Skaven seen in Warhammer Fantasy Battles 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.
    • The nation of 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.
  • 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.)

Video Games

Web Comics

  • Spoofed in Oglaf (NSFW), you know it when you see it.
  • 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 of consists of characters in consensual BDSM relationships as a contrast, with the exception of one villain who explicitly uses force on her slaves.

Western Animation

  • In King of the Hill Peggy fought for women's rights at the Arlen Renaissance Faire run by a misogynistic real estate developer who fancies himself a king. 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, that real estate guy goes overboard with it.
  • 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. Let's all just forget the fact that highly-respected female warriors like Unniyarcha and Rani Laxmi Bhai Of Jhansi, who led entire armies, have existed throughout India's history from as early on as the sixteenth century....
  • Shown in the American Dad quote above, Francine stands up to the treatment of Saudi women with a musical number.
  • China in Mulan isn't exactly friendly to women.
  • Female Waterbenders in the Northern Water Tribe are forbidden from learning any Waterbending techniques except healing. Women of noble birth are also expected to accept arranged marriages with no say in the matter.

Real Life

  • The tendency of Western magazines to portray Africa like this is lampshaded in this satirical article, "How to Write About Africa". Even though some of these things actually do happen, it's not as if all Africans practices genital mutilation or the more extreme things like that.
  • The Daily Mail's coverage of a white language teacher in Japan, deconstructed here.
    • The media coverage described there is clearly out of line, but consider the flood of Stringy Haired Ghost Girl movies, and movies like Freeze Me and Audition, to come out of Japan in the decade starting with the late 1990s. They all involve women who have been victims of some kind of abuse, and there is a social subtext for these films. And as they come from Japan, they can't be dismissed as the racism of outsiders.
  • Everything 2 presents: How much for the little girl? Which is a big case of Did Not Do the Research, one of the stories is set in Egypt, which is one of the more liberal and developed countries in North Africa.
  • Anywhere controlled by the Taliban.
    • Afghanistan has only gotten worse since they've been ousted as the economic destabilization has put forced marriages and forced prostitution on the rise.
  • Iraq has become this since the Iraq War -- before it was one of its relatively few positive points was being fairly progressive on women's rights for the region; but with no-one to enforce that, and a rise in influence and power of more radical religious elements, it's become a misogynistic hellhole to rival some of the more extreme fictional portrayals.

Notes

  1. Well, not really. Bera, Jarl's Woman of Svein Blue Tooth, despite being a notorious shrew and a colossal PITA, couldn't be enslaved out of hand; however, when the Kurii invaded and took a large number of prisoners, they collared a number of women (mostly intending to eat them later, but still) and the Torvaldslanders decided they would have to view this as the equivalent of enslavement by men (after the Kurii had been beaten and the women regained). Elsewhere, it's worth noting that Free Women have plenty of say in both Caste matters and city politics -- except among Initiates, but the author is prone to slip in the odd Take That against religion -- and are generally treated as objects of deference in their own cities. The point is that Svein was able to do it, and he wasn't shown to be one of the particularly cunning characters, he simply seized an opportunity. If Tarl or Forkbeard decided they wanted to enslave their wives, they could easily engineer the situation with the means a No Woman's Land society provides them.
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