Friday, January 24, 2014

Single Gender Worlds

Probably the first single-gender world I encountered in science fiction was the second story in Eric Frank Russell's three-part novel, The Great Explosion. It was an all-male world, and even though Russell never came out and said it, they were clearly homosexual, since they did nothing except lift weights and were obsessed with body-building and "pure" food (and there is a lot of homosexuality in the narcissistic body-building community.)

Science fiction has dealt with single-gender worlds many times. Sometimes these worlds are portrayed as utopias and sometimes as dystopias. When the men write about single-gender worlds without men the worlds are never the best worlds.

When mannish socialist-lesbians like Joanna Russ wrote about female-only worlds they tried to write them as blissful agrarian societies (apparently even she understood science, technology, engineering and math were not women's strong suits).

(Incidentally, the best-known homosexual in science fiction is Samuel R. Delany, who quite rapidly devolved into writing science-fiction's version of gay BDSM.)

In fact back in the 70's some lesbians did try the woman-only societies. They didn't work too well and the few members left are old grandmother-looking types. Not surprisingly, they only wanted men to visit occasionally...to fix broken things.

What you will find, over and over in these fictions, is that feminism/lesbianism, as always, is based on the hatred of men, while the men prefer societies in which men and women get along.

Personally I find these fictional feminist utopias to be horrors and the females in them to be monsters.

This article is from Wikipedia:

"A relatively common motif in speculative fiction is the existence of single gender worlds or single-sex societies. These fictional societies have long been one of the primary ways to explore implications of gender and gender-differences in science fiction and fantasy. In the fictional setting, these societies often arise due to elimination of one gender through war or natural disasters and disease. The societies may be portrayed as utopian – particularly in feminist texts – or dystopian, as seen in pulp tales of oppressive matriarchies.

"Female-only worlds

"There is a long tradition of female-only places in literature and mythology, starting with the Amazons and continuing into some examples of feminist utopias. In speculative fiction, female-only worlds have been imagined to come about, among other approaches, by the action of disease that wipes out men, along with the development of technological or mystical method that allow female parthenogenic reproduction. The resulting society is often shown to be utopian by feminist writers. Several influential feminist utopias of this sort were written in the 1970s; the most often studied examples include Joanna Russ's The Female Man, Suzy McKee Charnas's Walk to the End of the World and Motherlines, and Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time. Utopias imagined by male authors have generally included equality between sexes, rather than separation. Female-only societies may be seen as an extreme type of a biased sex-ratio, another common SF theme.

"Such worlds have been portrayed most often by lesbian or feminist authors; their use of female-only worlds allows the exploration of female independence and freedom from patriarchy. The societies may not necessarily be lesbian, or sexual at all — a famous early sexless example being Herland (1915) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

"Some lesbian separatist authors have used female-only societies to additionally posit that all women would be lesbians if having no possibility of sexual interaction with men, as in Ammonite (1993) by Nicola Griffith. The enormously influential The Female Man (1975) and "When It Changed" (1972) by Joanna Russ portrayed a peaceful agrarian society of lesbians who resent the later intrusion of men, and a world in which women plan a genocidal war against men, implying that the utopian lesbian society is the result of this war.

"During the pulp era, matriarchal dystopias were relatively common, in which female-only or female-controlled societies were shown unfavourably. In John Wyndham's "Consider Her Ways" (1956), male rule is shown as being repressive of women, but freedom from patriarchy is only possible in an authoritarian caste-based female-only society. Poul Anderson's "Virgin Planet" depicted a world where five castaway women found a way of reproducing asexually — but the daughter is an exact copy of the mother, with the result that eventually the planet has a large population composed entirely of 'copies' of the original five. Among them, males are considered mythical creatures — and a man who lands on the planet after centuries of isolation finds it difficult to prove that he is one.

"James Tiptree Jr., a woman writing secretly under a male pseudonym, explored the sexual impulse and gender as two of her main themes; in her award-winning "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" (collected in Her Smoke Rose Up Forever), she presents a female-only society after the extinction of men from disease. The society lacks stereotypically 'male' problems such as war and crime, but is stagnant. The women reproduce via cloning and consider men to be comical.

"Male-only worlds

"Men-only societies are much less common than women-only societies. Joanna Russ suggests this is because men do not feel oppressed, and therefore imagining a world free of women does not imply an increase in freedom and is not as attractive.

"Some examples include:

"Ethan of Athos by Lois Bujold, inspired by the real world male-only religious society of Mount Athos, shows a world in which men have isolated their planet from the rest of civilization to avoid the 'corrupting' effect of women. Children are grown in uterine replicators, using ova derived from tissue cultures; the novel's plot is driven by the declining fertility of these cultures.

"A. Bertram Chandler's A Spartan Planet features the men-only planet Sparta which is dedicated to the values of militarism loosely modeled upon the ancient Greek city state of Sparta.

"Cordwainer Smith's short story "The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal" portrays a society in which all of the women have died out.

"Genderless or hermaphroditic worlds

"Some other fictional worlds feature societies in which everyone has more than one gender, or none, or can change gender. For example:

"Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) depicts a world in which individuals are neither 'male' nor 'female' but can have both male and female sexual organs and reproductive abilities, making them in some senses intersexual. Similar patterns exist in Greg Egan's novel Schild's Ladder and his novella "Oceanic" or in Storm Constantine's book series Wraeththu about an oogamous magical race that arose from mutant human beings.

"John Varley, who also came to prominence in the 1970s, also often writes on gender-related themes. In his "Eight Worlds" suite of stories (many collected in The John Varley Reader) and novels, for example, humanity has achieved the ability to change sex at a whim. Homophobia is shown to initially inhibit uptake of this technology, as it engenders drastic changes in relationships, with homosexual sex becoming an acceptable option for all.

In the "Culture" series of novels and stories by Iain M. Banks, humans can and do relatively easily (and reversibly) change sex.

Gender segregation

"Segregation of genders is another relatively common trope of speculative fiction — physical separation can result in societies that are essentially single-gender, although the majority of such works focus on the reunification of the genders, or otherwise on links that remain between them, as with Sheri S. Tepper's The Gate to Women's Country, David Brin's Glory Season and Carol Emshwiller's "Boys". Even an episode of Duckman tried this.

"Sometimes the segregation is social, and men and women interact to a limited extent. For example, when overpopulation drives the world away from heterosexuality in Charles Beaumont's short story "The Crooked Man" (1955), first published in "Playboy", homosexuals oppress the heterosexual minority and relationships between men and women are made unlawful.

"List of works

"Female worlds

"Houston, Houston, Do You Read?

"The Female Man

"When It Changed

"Herland

"Consider Her Ways"

"Ammonite

"The Cleft

"Male worlds

"Ethan of Athos

"The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal"

"Genderless or hermaphroditic worlds

"Wraeththu

"Venus Plus X

"The Left Hand of Darkness"

4 comments:

Baloo said...

All this makes me think of
_The Disappearance_, by Philip Wylie
Did you ever read it? It's been years and years.

Bob Wallace said...

I've never heard of that one. The only thing I've read by him is "Generation of Vipers."

Anonymous said...

So Bob, have you considered reading Mein Kampf yet? Any of the hundreds of speeches in which AH denounced bolshevism (communism, for the unread; leftism, for Bob)) as the handiwork of the Jews?

If you're gonna go around declarin' things ya oughta at least read up.



Baloo said...

By gosh, I'm going to do a little rereading — When Worlds Collide, Generation, like you say, and a bunch of other stuff. Oh, he also wrote "Gladiator," which may be one of the origins of Superman.