Posted by: Fabius Bile | February 13, 2010

Exploring the Genderless Society, part 2

Cover of Brave New World by Huxley

Seriosly, has no one ever read this

So once again, we are taken to a world in which gender is basically nonexistent in The Female Man. And once again, we are taken to visit a Utopian society where the disappearance of men somehow leads to the creation of a society in which all problems have been eliminated. This time men vanished through a disease only affecting their sex (and the fact that no cure was found when it would eliminate an entire gender? Somewhat curious). So of course the women all band together to create a society and world better than that of when men existed within it. We then get to see it compared to other societies where men and women hold different positions, or the balance is different in some way. This way we get a great comparison as to why a world full of only women is the perfect world to live in.

Of course, any of you who have read my past blog entries know I have a major problem with this idea. Not just that I am a male and would rather not have my entire gender disappear from the face of the planet, but other reasons as well. Previously I have stated that all societal problems would not be solved by the removal of the gender bias, or the removal of any one bias for that matter. This time, I’d like to use another work to illustrate my point.

While not explicitly removing the genders as a whole, Brave New World removes the usefulness of gender, as humans are basically grown when the need arises. This combined with other certain advances in technology lead to a completely equal society where everyone is apathetic, and really just doesn’t care one way or another how things work out. It is the polar opposite of Orwell’s predictions in 1984, where mass control would be maintained and people would be slaves. It is the opposite extreme, where people could care less what happens around them, all stemming from the removal for the need to procreate (thus removing the “preserve the species” instinct).

How does this relate one might ask? While Brave New World does not deal with the removal of either gender, it deals with the removal of the roles of gender (which is effectively the same thing). So in a society that is all one gender, or no gender at all, some new problems arise. Why care about life or what happens around you? Your species is preserved through technology, no need to worry about living to procreate.  Then The Female Man also raises questions about a single gender or genderless society that I have already spoken about. It is hard to believe that an entire population of humans would cooperate for a betterment of their society, just because one gender was removed. We have a hard enough time cooperating to keep the same country untied, even less the whole world. Bias and discrimination are hardwired into our minds, not to say that we all discriminate, but we all carry feelings or desires to be superior. Otherwise, we would not have lasted this long.



  1. Two questions:

    (1) Do you really believe the disappearance of the men is accidental?

    (2) Do you think that Russ is advocating a society without males? (Does Janet really represent what Russ wants us to be?)

    • It’s possible that it is either accidental or manufactured. I’d rather not go and become a conspiracy theorist within the concept of the novel. Either way is negative in my opinion. Accidental? Failure to save the lives of half a population. Manufactured? Slaughtered half of a world’s population. Equally regrettable.
      As for representing what we should be, I feel that representing something such as a world with only one gender in such a positive light would suggest that it is what is being recommended, especially in contrast with the two other worlds in which other gender differences exist. There is the world where men and women constantly are at war yet trade with each other as well. It is entirely possible that Russ is suggesting a sort of world of unison, rather than either extreme.

  2. Gender rolls were still very much in existence in Brave New World, and in fact were even better defined. Little children girls in their sleep were told to take their birth control and go with any man who will have them. Not only are gender rolls still in existence in Brave New World, but are also rigidly defined by global brainwashing. Just because women cease to be in control of reproduction does not mean they are not forced into the other gender rolls. The conflicts of Brave New World are derivative of a technology enslaved society, who have no connection to production process. In Whileaway the condition is a tad different; every single person spends every waking hour working at some integral part of production. The significance of loosing the men is that it was the men who promote the mechanisation of production, and by eliminating this male tradition Whileaway has achieved a form of harmony. It is not necessary to literally remove men from society to achieve this (e.g. Mattapoisett), but by keeping the same male ideals of ‘progress’ you get the sort of apathy found in all of your dystopian novels.

  3. I’m reminded of a scene from Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, where the narrator is talking to the woman he wants to be his wife. They’re about to have the Bokononist rendition of sex, and it comes out that she does this with everyone–much to the narrator’s chagrin. Her response is that one should love everyone, and the narrator concedes that he would rather have her along with everyone else than be alone.

    I think it’s important that Vonnegut tries to point out how ingrained in us the possessiveness of gender is. The narrator wants her -all to himself-. Yet somehow her pan-eroticism is considered the Other, even though it is the doctrine (supposedly) adopted by egalitarian Christianity and most other non-individualistic dogmas–perhaps she is the Other, as you say, because this concept of possessiveness is hardwired in us such that it is natural”…

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