Gender Segregation: True Equality?
by Kate Sherwood
One of my favourite things about writing is the ability to play “what if”. For Sacrati, I got to play it a lot! I tried to start with a real-world situation, and then extended it a little. For the Torian society, I took the idea of a Spartan-style civilization, with their commitment to war, and took it even further. What if the men in the culture never lived with the women? What if they stayed in the barracks all the time?
Well, there’d need to be some contact, obviously. Babies have to come from somewhere. But, really, a few nights a year should take care of that, right?
One of the things that would probably happen with that level of gender segregation would be a lot of homosexual contact, which, for an m/m novel, is not a bad thing! But what else would happen?
Theos, one of my main characters, explains the system:
“The women stay in the city because they’re safe there. We need them, as many as possible, and we need them to be healthy. One man can have many children in a year; we don’t need as many men. So men go to war and keep the valleys safe, and women stay in the cities where they’re protected. They take care of business, and they build things and raise children.” Theos raised an eyebrow. “What’s so unnatural about that?”
At first I worried that I was reducing the women to being baby-machines. It felt oppressive to have them controlled by their biology. But then I realized that the women actually had a lot more freedom than the men in this society. The men had to be soldiers. If they weren’t fit for that, they weren’t fit to be citizens. The women, though? They could be blacksmiths or healers or farmers or potters or weavers or just about anything else.
It was interesting to imagine the possibilities. True equality? No, not really. But it was an interesting direction for my “what if” game to take!
Have you ever taken part in a formally gender-segregated activity? Private school, “women only” retreat, “men only” club… anything? If you did, how was it different or the same as a mixed-gender activity? Would you want to do it again? If you’ve never taken part in something like this, would you be interested in trying it?
As an elite Sacrati fighter in the mighty Torian military, Theos is blessed with a city full of women who want to bear his children, and a barracks full of men proud to fight at his side and share his bed. He has everything he needs—until he captures Finnvid on a raid.
Finnvid is on a secret mission to prevent the Torian invasion of his homeland Elkat. Being enslaved by Torian soldiers wasn’t in his plans. Neither is his horrified fascination with the casual promiscuity of the Sacrati warriors. Men should not lie with other men—and he should not be so intrigued when they do. He definitely should not be most intrigued by the leader of the soldiers who captured him and plan to invade his home.
For Theos, everything would have been easier if the infuriating, lying, bewildering Elkati had never come into his life, but he can’t stay away. When betrayal and treachery threaten both their nations, they must work together to stop a war that could destroy their homes forever—even as they begin to question everything they’re fighting for.
Available at: Riptide Publishing & Amazon
About Kate Sherwood
Kate Sherwood started writing about the same time she got back on a horse after almost twenty years away from riding. She’d like to think she was too young for it to be a midlife crisis, but apparently she was ready for some changes!
Kate grew up near Toronto, Ontario (Canada) and went to school in Montreal, then Vancouver. But for the last decade or so she’s been a country girl. Sure, she misses some of the conveniences of the city, but living close to nature makes up for those lacks. She’s living in Ontario’s “cottage country”–other people save up their time and come to spend their vacations in her neighborhood, but she gets to live there all year round!
Since her first book was published in 2010, she’s kept herself busy with novels, novellas, and short stories in almost all the sub-genres of m/m romance. Contemporary, suspense, scifi or fantasy–the settings are just the backdrop for her characters to answer the important questions. How much can they share, and what do they need to keep? Can they bring themselves to trust someone, after being disappointed so many times? Are they brave enough to take a chance on love?
Kate’s books balance drama with humor, angst with optimism. They feature strong, damaged men who fight themselves harder than they fight anyone else. And, wherever possible, there are animals: horses, dogs, cats ferrets, squirrels… sometimes it’s easier to bond with a non-human, and most of Kate’s men need all the help they can get.
After five years of writing, Kate is still learning, still stretching herself, and still enjoying what she does. She’s looking forward to sharing a lot more stories in the future.
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Don’t forget to check out Susan65’s review of Sacrati to see what she thought of it!