November 8th, 2008


Two Links to Posts on Gender

First up: io9 has Women Who Pretended to be Men to Publish SciFi Books. A few names I'd never heard of, but it's more than a list of names, there's reasons and quotes given. I found it interesting, but I still find it difficult to draw any conclusion. Is it conforming and reinforcing stereotypes to take a male or gender neutral name? Or is it proving the stereotypes wrong? And ultimately, is it aiding or hurting your present career, and/or your future notoriety? And should it depend on the type of science fiction you're writing?

Second up: In a Google blog search for 'gender science fiction', this came up. It's not a lengthy or in-depth post, but I wanted to argue against it. So it's Choosing Baby Gender is Not Science Fiction Anymore. (Can anyone give me examples of when it was science fiction, btw?)

There are many things wrong with this. And the most important is that it will lead to a dislocation of the natural balance between genders. 70% of families would like their first child to be a girl (see article above). What would all these girls do when they grow up and face with the shortage of boys to date, marry and have kids with?

70% of which families, we're not told. The article referenced is Choose a baby, not its sex. That article doesn't say either, but as it's an Australian newspaper, we can perhaps assume they mean Australian families. Which certainly isn't a large percentage of the world population. And it's still lacking too much vital information. Like, is this 70% of people trying IVF who want a girl? They might have legitimate, IVF specific reasons for wanting a girl. I believe (hey, if they didn't quote a source, I don't have to dig one up), that girl embryos, fetuses, and young babies have a better chance of survival than boy ones. So it'd be logical for people with infertility problems to go for the better odds of a girl.

The 70% aside, that's just for their first child. I'm betting nearly 100% of those 70% would want a boy for their second child. Granted you'd still end up skewed towards girls, but so what? We're already skewed towards girls in most societies. All the good men are taken or gay? Well, yea, because there aren't enough straight ones to go around.

And, again I say, so what? So those girls will grow up realizing that there aren't enough boys to go around, and they'll have internalized quite early on that finding a straight boy and marrying him and having kids with him isn't the only path to happiness. How horrible would that be? The ones with bi tendencies can find themselves a nice girl. The ones who want kids can have them on their own (and pick whichever gender they want) or even pair up with a friend to raise kids together, manless. And well, quite frankly the others can seek out men from a) the communities, religious and otherwise, who went mostly for boy babies, b) the communities, again religious and otherwise, who were against picking a gender in the first place, c) the communities, socioeconomic in this case, who couldn't afford to pick baby gender, and d) the next generation, where the gender choice rebounded and swung the other way.

Because society is not a homogenous entity. And humans grow and change and adapt. Would society be different if a large percentage of it chose the sex of their children? Undoubtably. But would it be horrible? Not likely.

For the sake of maintaining the balance between men and women, we should not allow selection of baby gender.

We don't have a balance now, not if you mean 50/50. Will it upset the status quo? Sure. But so would eliminating gun violence and a gender disparate military and all the other ways that young men get killed at rates faster than young women. Are people advocating against doing that?