Time Travel: Sorry, No Girls Allowed

The Guardian (among others) raised a fantastic point recently: females who travel through time are practically non-existent.

I think time-travel is one of those really awesome science fiction concepts that can range so delightfully from glorious cheesiness to romantic to heart-pounding. It’s a genre I enjoy. But I realized…they’re right.

The time travelers/time travel media I could name:

  • H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine
  • Doctor Who (twelve incarnations, all presenting as male)
  • Marty McFly (Back to the Future)
  • Captains Kirk, Picard, Sisko* (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
  • The Kid in King Arthur’s Court
  • Looper
  • Hot Tub Time Machine
  • Kate and Leopold
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife (I don’t know if I’ve actually seen this or just saw the trailers…)
  • Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures  (Be Awesome to One Another)
  • Terminator
  • Groundhog Day (I don’t know that it’s technically time travel though)
  • 13 Going on 30
  • Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Props to you, Hermione, as a main-screen female time traveler. And why did you travel through time? More time to do homework, of course!

Out of that whole list, only 13 Going on 30 and Harry Potter have ladies. And I don’t really think 13 Going on 30 should even count, because she doesn’t just time travel, she also inhabits an older hot-bod version of herself.

That means the only time-traveling lady I can think of is Hermione Granger. And, let it be noted, unlike a lot of the guys who are motivated to time travel by wanting to get a girl, Hermione is into time travel so she can study. Like a boss.

That’s a pretty sad list. Why aren’t women given the chance to travel through time? Is it the cultural notion that explorer = male? In other words, we’re sending men to travel through time because they’re the hunters?

Well that sucks.

It is in this spirit that I issue a challenge: Write a time travel short story in which the lead is female.

That’s it. Take her wherever you like. Explore new worlds and the same world but in different times. Make her good, make her bad, make her lovesick, make her vengeful, make her confused. I don’t care! Just make her!

Leave a comment here when you’ve written one to let me know!

*Granted, I do know that time travel as a concept occurs fairly frequently in Star Trek, in several of the movies and shows. And I think I’ve seen every episode of the original, TNG and Voyager. But the only times it seemed really significant were the Tribble episode of Deep Space Nine (Sisko), Star Trek Generations (Picard), and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Kirk). And it’s the menfolk who are the focus of all those episodes.


Filed under Feminism, writing

16 responses to “Time Travel: Sorry, No Girls Allowed

  1. Wow. The short lived TV show “The Sarah Connors Chronicles” is the only example that comes to mind–there were a number of female time travelers in that. And I think the SyFy channel has a new series about a female cop who goes back in time from a dystopian future.

    In general, though, you’re right, in all the Time Travel Stories that come to mind about a single traveler, the character is male.

    Okay, that gives me something to work on.

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  3. I’m revising a middle grade book with time traveling twin sisters. 😀 Girls can do it, too!

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  6. Here’s a girl time-travel story with a Titanic twist: Missing in Time

  7. Romana (in Doctor Who) is a time-travelling Time Lady but she’s a companion to the Doctor (the main protagonist).
    In some spin-off of the series, there is Iris Wildthyme and Bernice Summerfield who do a lot of time travel by themselves and have there own series (books and audio for both).

    In the The Time Traveler’s Wife, the time traveler have a child who can time travel at will (unlike her father who can not control his time travel).

    In the french book « Les sept fils de l’étoile » by Françoise d’Eaubonne (Hachette, 1962), a women have 7 sons on different planets and different time from her own. By the same author, in « Rêve de Feu » (Hachette, 1964), the main protagonist of the story seems to travel in time (at least in dreams, it is unclear if she really has traveled in time).

    In « Quest of the Starstone » by Catherine Lawrence Moore & Henry Kuttner, Jirel of Joiry travels to the far futur and meets Northwest Smith (who doesn’t travel).

    There are probably more, but yes, time-travel seems a lot to be a male thingy (I can also recall of René Barjavel’s « Le Voyageur Imprudent » where a man goes to see the futur but not the daughter of the inventor. Lots of short stories in the 30s-40s involved a men time-travelling too)

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