Gender in SF: A Summary

I am finishing up my paper and drawing my final conclusions. In my paper, I decided to take out Woman on the Edge of Time. It was just the kind of book I was looking for – a utopian society that uses gender-neutral pronouns. But when I really started digging, there just wasn’t enough. Mattaposett is a utopian society with a universal “human” pronoun, but that’s about it. There wasn’t a whole lot of gender tension, and importantly, there was no “third” sex. I found the “third sex” to be really crucial to my analysis. A “third sex” ostensibly breaks the male-female gender binary, yet all of the books I read that contained a “third sex” ended up reinforcing that binary (and heterosexual gender norms) to some extent. I find that tension fascinating (and really, really important), so I decided to focus solely on books that contained that tension. This decision also led me to add in Sphinx, a really wonderful genderless love story. Sphinx was really instrumental in helping me see what science fiction could do to challenge gender norms; in addition, Sphinx‘s postscript contained the translator’s (Emma Ramadan translated Sphinx from Garréta’s original French) commentary about gendered language and the semantic difficulties she and Garréta faced.

My project is done, but really, it will never be done. I have a lot of other books that were slightly out of the scope (both in terms of topic and time) of my study that I want to read and think about.

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