Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al (livredor) wrote,
Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al
livredor

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SF gender

So I read Ian McDonald's River of gods about a month ago, and although I was extremely impressed with it, I never got round to posting a review. I think that's partly because I bounced about it at cartesiandaemon and rysmiel while I was reading it, and partly because I'm disorganized. But it's an absolutely fascinating and highly original book.

Anyway, among the explosion of exciting SF ideas, one of them is the concept of "nutes" who "Step Away" from gender, by a surgical and psychological process more or less analogous to an extreme version of sex reassignment surgery in our reality. I just can't get out of my head that if that gender existed, I would want to be it.

I mean, I know the medical technology described in the book is totally unrealistic, including physically rewiring the brain so that it doesn't even think gendered thoughts, not to mention remodelling the entire skeleton. And even it were possible, it would be a totally stupid idea; the book postulates, I'm sure correctly, that nutes are almost universally hated and regarded as freaks. It's perfectly obvious that I'm much, much safer looking like a moderately attractive woman than in a body that would upset everybody by being even more gender rebellious than any genderqueer person can ever manage in reality. People who know me well know I'm not as female in my head as I look, but I don't have to deal with the prejudices of any random strangers based on my appearance, and that's really the optimum situation. I also really don't need to be convincing myself not to do something that isn't even slightly an option!

Somebody said to me recently that if I have to hesitate to remember that I'm supposed to be female, that makes me gender dysphoric. To me that seems like comparing feeling a bit melancholy sometimes with actual clinical depression; I generally quite like my body and it's not even slightly a hardship being regarded as a woman. Thinking wistfully about how it would be nice to be able to opt out of gender is no more serious than vaguely speculating about whether telepathy or invisibility would be a cooler superpower. And realistically, even with existing technology I could present as a lot more androgynous if I chose to, and I don't think it's worth the hassle in order to look more like the person in my head. And really, even in RoG, it's a choice between male, female and social outcast, which isn't a whole lot better than having only two options.

Don't know if I'm actually going anywhere with this; the main point is that if you are interested in my review, it's linked.
Tags: gender, meta
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