Science Fiction And Gender:

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate July 2001

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In his book Billion Year Spree; the True History of Science Fiction, Brian Aldiss wrote that Science Fiction is an "all-male escapist power fantasy" written by "Philistine-male-chauvinist pigs" who work in the "Ghetto of Retarded Boyhood." At the time Aldiss wrote his book, the science fiction genre was dominated by male authors. This male domination led to a great deal of writing which perpetuated the female stereotypes of men. There were however, a few female authors pushing the boundaries of gender politics. Since that time more and more women have taken on the task of writing for the science fiction genre in a way that explores the concepts of gender in science fiction.

How do we deal with a "race" which truly has no gender, or are sexually neutral? We can't treat them as male or female after all, these terms themselves imply so much. Sexual ambiguity, or androgyny can play a very big part in the writing of science fiction.

But are writers able to get around the idea of gender and sexuality that we are so bound by in our species. Two of the most well-known novels to tackle the idea of gender and sexual identity are Usula Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, and Marge Piercy's He, she and It. But do Le Guin and Piercy truly think of new ideas? Can sci-fi writers actually think outside of the box when it comes to creating new ideas of gender and sexuality in their writing? The Left Hand of Darkness is a great novel in that it allows us to try and think about what life would be like if there was no gender to differentiate us as humans. Except for a brief period each month, no one is female, and no one is...