What’s the deal with dykes and swords? From beloved ’90s franchises such as Revolutionary Girl Utena and Xena to She-Ra today, sapphic swordswomen aren’t exactly over-represented, but they show up just often enough that if you’re a certain kind of queer nerd, you’re familiar with the trope. The hashtag #swordlesbian has over 9 million views on TikTok, 2019 gave us viral bisexual sword wives, and last year the independent roleplaying game Thirsty Sword Lesbians raised almost $300,000 on Kickstarter, beating its initial goal fifteen times over.
More than that, Sword Lesbians seem to be having a moment in SFF literature right now. In the last few years books such as Gideon the Ninth, The Traitor Baru Cormorant, and The Unspoken Name have established a subgenre of speculative fiction all about codependent women with swords. These aren’t just stories about swords, they’re stories about queer relationships, kink, the roles we play for one another, and the ways we negotiate them. They’re stories about chivalry.