Non-Fiction Book Review: 150 Years of Gynarchy by Viola Voltairine

Non-Fiction Book Review

150 Years of Gynarchy
Viola Voltairine
Publication Date: March 1, 2021
Publisher: Indy Pub
Genres: Non-Fiction
Shelves: FLR, Femdom

If you are in a female-led or female-dominant relationship, dream of finding your place in one, or are simply interested in dismantling the patriarchy and furthering feminist ideals, I would politely suggest that 150 Years of Gynarchy should be required reading. 

This is not some kinky roleplay guide or thinly-veiled erotic fantasy, but a deeply philosophical exploration of gender politics and relationship dynamics through which Viola Voltairine lays out a philosophy for a better future. As she lays out in her introduction, the kind of gynarchy she's talking about is: underground religion with its own titles and moral guidelines - one that combines the kinky sexuality of FemDom with the social and political fire of feminism and the spiritual zeal of Goddess worship and witchcraft.

The book begins with a chapter exploring the existence and origins of the patriarchy, and then delves deeper to explain how it has stripped us of so much feminine history and spirituality. What's important to note, however, is that Ms. Viola takes a positive approach to everything she writes. This is not a book about man-bashing, but one of female empowerment. She acknowledges the damage done by the patriarchy,  but then moves on to disregard it (and the men to support it) and focus on why Gynarchy would be better, healthier, and happier for all. 

Before I go on, I have to call out one of the things that immediately caught my attention - and garnered my respect. Ms. Viola quickly and definitively addresses the role of transwomen in Gynarchy:

It's very simple. Transwomen are women. They are not cis women, but that doesn't really matter when you are considering their real-life practical experiences of transitioning into women. The systems in place that hurt women often treat them even worse than women.

Such a simple statement, but also an incredibly powerful one.

Most of the book is aimed at submissive men, but she also speaks to the women around them (whether they consider themselves dominant or not). The entire book is peppered with real-life experiences from Ms. Viola's household, things to which woman can relate, questions of kink or fetish or fantasy aside, and which exemplify how a Gynarchy can work. There's also a chapter dedicated to dominant women that I found to be enlightening, offering advice not on becoming dominant or bringing men to heel, but on reclaiming feminine power and deprogramming women's automatic conditioning from having grown up under patriarchal rule. 

The chapter on the Gynarchic household, particularly the section around communication resonated with me in ways I can't begin to describe. Ms. Viola has a way of leading you through her thought processes so that philosophy and practice converge in an explosion of insight. I came away from that chapter with a better understanding of not just how, but why my own communication has been lacking, and with clear ideas of how to improve it. That same chapter references Key Barrett (author of Surrender, Submit, Serve Her), talking about long-term serious submission and the mindset required to put her happiness and her pleasure first.

There's also a powerful section in that chapter where she talks about the practicalities of families, distancing herself from the abuse implied by so many erotic fantasies of female-dominant utopias, to talk about what Gynarchy really looks like:

It looks like empowering a young girl to be commanding without fetishizing her. It looks like teaching a young boy to revere women without abusing him. It looks like a new world where a woman promotes cooperation and harmony by being both benevolent and deliciously cruel, while men fall willfully at her feet.

Pearl O'Leslie (author of Rebecca Without A Cause) gets an entire chapter to herself, and it's one that should be required reading for new submissive especially. She talks about the damage done by the patriarchy in shaming men into hiding their kinks, leaving them without the knowledge or resources to find the dominant women they crave. Instead of offering advice on dating or BDSM clubs, she talks about communicating with other submissives, associating with the queer community, and (I adored this) reading across genders and genres. She argues that one of the reasons women have more empathy is because as girls they were forced to read and identify with male characters, whereas boys were coddled and protected from girl characters for fears they'd stop reading. As she writes, remedial consumption of media targeted at women can be one of the best ways of undoing the damage, and has the added benefit of creating shared interests.

Finally - and this should tell you a lot about what Ms. Viola is trying to say and accomplish here - there is a chapter on sexuality, but it comes near the very end, after we've already talked about family, politics, society, and relationships, and its focus is not on kink or bondage, but simply on putting female orgasms first. With the help of a passage from Ms. Rika (author of Uniquely Rika), there's a discussion of how the value of chastity differs for new versus experienced submissives, and how the wrong application of it can do more harm than good by putting the focus on striving for his next orgasm, as opposed to being a part of hers. I had to reread that section more than a few times to overcome what I'd been taught to think and feel about it.

Ultimately, if 150 Years of Gynarchy sounds even remotely interesting, then I urge you to give it a read. It's deeper, more thoughtful, and likely more compassionate than vanilla readers might expect, and it's all positive and progressive. It's the kind of book that's worth having on hand to revisit as thoughts or feelings occur to you, and one that would make a wonderful gift for anybody else interested in  female-led or female-dominant relationships. I am deeply indebted to Ms. Viola for gifting me an electronic copy, and have ordered a paperback for my Goddess and myself to read, highlight, and notate together.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀ 

My sincere thanks to the author for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.