Discussion:
Equality of the sexes in science fiction
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The Zygon
2018-04-07 04:57:57 UTC
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Has anyone ever read a science fiction story about a society in which men and women are really treated equally? I have read some in which it _said_ that men and women are equal. But one detects subtle differences in treatment in the story suggesting inequality.

The Federation in Star Trek is one such society. Men and women are supposedly treated equally. But I detect subtle, and sometimes no so subtle, hints that notions of chivalry still persist and women are not treated truly equally. There are also differences in treatment unrelated to the notion of "protection of women". However, I also noticed that the later the series, the less of it one sees. That was good trend.

I would also like to hear about cases where it is said that the sexes are equal, but you detect indications that they are not. Or found situations which flat out contradict the claim.
-dsr-
2018-04-07 11:02:46 UTC
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Post by The Zygon
Has anyone ever read a science fiction story about a society in which men and women are really treated equally? I have read some in which it _said_ that men and women are equal. But one detects subtle differences in treatment in the story suggesting inequality.
A few come to mind.

First, John Varley's Eight Worlds universe has cheap, convenient sex changing
universally available. There's no point in discriminating against someone for
being male or female, because they might be different next week.

Second, the Culture also has easy, free body transformations which results in
equality.

There are plenty of SFnal civilizations where biological sex is clearly
not an advantage or disadvantage: Weber's Honorverse seems to have about
as many women as men in political and military and economic leadership
roles. Civilizations with a bias are clearly less well-adjusted than Manticore.

Over in Brust's Dragaeran Empire, class and wealth differences are rampant but
gender equality appears to be the default.

-dsr-
h***@gmail.com
2018-04-07 11:37:09 UTC
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Post by The Zygon
Has anyone ever read a science fiction story about a society in which men and women are really treated equally? I have read some in which it _said_ that men and women are equal. But one detects subtle differences in treatment in the story suggesting inequality.
A few come to mind.
First, John Varley's Eight Worlds universe has cheap, convenient sex changing
universally available. There's no point in discriminating against someone for
being male or female, because they might be different next week.
Second, the Culture also has easy, free body transformations which results in
equality.
There are plenty of SFnal civilizations where biological sex is clearly
not an advantage or disadvantage: Weber's Honorverse seems to have about
as many women as men in political and military and economic leadership
roles. Civilizations with a bias are clearly less well-adjusted than Manticore.
But may be a lot more common.
Even in Manticore Honor's experiences in the academy suggest that the situation isn't perfect
Post by -dsr-
Over in Brust's Dragaeran Empire, class and wealth differences are rampant but
gender equality appears to be the default.
true for the dragaerians, not so sure about the easterners
David Bridgham
2018-04-07 13:24:37 UTC
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Post by The Zygon
Has anyone ever read a science fiction story about a society in which men and women are really treated equally? I have read some in which it _said_ that men and women are equal. But one detects subtle differences in treatment in the story suggesting inequality.
The Steerswoman series by Rosemary Kirstein comes to mind.
Wolffan
2018-04-07 16:14:16 UTC
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Post by The Zygon
Has anyone ever read a science fiction story about a society in which men and
women are really treated equally?
lots of them. Most of Weber’s and Drake’s and Stirling’s books have at
least relative gender equality _in some societies in the books_. This is NOT
to say that all in those societies is perfect; see further Honor Harrington
at the Academy in the first Honorverse book. This is NOT to say that other
societies are anything close to gender-nuetral; see pretty much the entire
_second_ Honorverse book. David Drake has long established that he really
doesn’t care what gender or orientation a character might have... unless
it’s important to the plot. Then he cares. Stirling _likes_ Bad Girls. See
further Gwen and Tayud and Adrienne and many, many more.
Post by The Zygon
I have read some in which it _said_ that
men and women are equal. But one detects subtle differences in treatment in
the story suggesting inequality.
Weber doesn’t do subtle; he named a character Rob S Pierre, and there’s a
reason why Honor’s initials are ‘HH'. Stirling does subtle when he feels
like it... but he also does matriarchies. Drake does 'bleed quietly and
don’t bother me or I’ll hurt you'.
Dorothy J Heydt
2018-04-07 16:19:02 UTC
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Post by The Zygon
Has anyone ever read a science fiction story about a society in which
men and women are really treated equally? I have read some in which it
_said_ that men and women are equal. But one detects subtle differences
in treatment in the story suggesting inequality.
The Federation in Star Trek is one such society. Men and women are
supposedly treated equally. But I detect subtle, and sometimes no so
subtle, hints that notions of chivalry still persist and women are not
treated truly equally. There are also differences in treatment
unrelated to the notion of "protection of women". However, I also
noticed that the later the series, the less of it one sees. That was
good trend.
I'll point out that ST:TOS aired in 1966. That in the original
pilot, "Number One" (Majel Barrett) was the first officer, and
the suits at the network wouldn't buy it. So Roddenberry
tinkered with the crew list some more; and the suits were willing
to accept a male second-in-command with pointy ears.

Roddenberry was ahead of his time. He pushed the edge of what
the networks would stand for as long as he lived; sometimes
successfully, sometimes not.
--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
m***@sky.com
2018-04-07 17:48:04 UTC
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Post by The Zygon
Has anyone ever read a science fiction story about a society in which men and women are really treated equally? I have read some in which it _said_ that men and women are equal. But one detects subtle differences in treatment in the story suggesting inequality.
The Federation in Star Trek is one such society. Men and women are supposedly treated equally. But I detect subtle, and sometimes no so subtle, hints that notions of chivalry still persist and women are not treated truly equally. There are also differences in treatment unrelated to the notion of "protection of women". However, I also noticed that the later the series, the less of it one sees. That was good trend.
I would also like to hear about cases where it is said that the sexes are equal, but you detect indications that they are not. Or found situations which flat out contradict the claim.
In E.E.Smith's Universe of the Lens, we are told that sexual equality is a characteristic of civilization, and the Boskonian races typically have one dominant sex, with the Kalonians being told to groom the Lyranians for prominence for precisely this reason. However, by the standards of our time, human civilization would have a hard time even proving equality of opportunity, because women don't serve in the armed services and (with one exception) don't become Lensmen. This of course gives us the opportunity of denouncing E.E.Smith as a sexist pig and thereby proving that we have the only possible right answer to the associated problems. In fact, I suspect that there are several different groups, each with mutually inconsistent right answers, who would be prepared to do this :-)
Christian Weisgerber
2018-04-07 19:20:50 UTC
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Post by The Zygon
Has anyone ever read a science fiction story about a society in which men and women are really treated equally? I have read some in which it _said_ that men and women are equal. But one detects subtle differences in treatment in the story suggesting inequality.
How about stories where humans have gengineered themselves to reduce
sexual dimorphism? Sounds like a thing Iain M. Banks might mention
in passing about the Culture.
--
Christian "naddy" Weisgerber ***@mips.inka.de
Ted Nolan <tednolan>
2018-04-07 20:49:35 UTC
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Post by The Zygon
Post by The Zygon
Has anyone ever read a science fiction story about a society in which
men and women are really treated equally? I have read some in which it
_said_ that men and women are equal. But one detects subtle differences
in treatment in the story suggesting inequality.
How about stories where humans have gengineered themselves to reduce
sexual dimorphism? Sounds like a thing Iain M. Banks might mention
in passing about the Culture.
Or alternately, Niven't "boys" & "girls" from _A World Out Of Time_.
Seperate but equal.
--
------
columbiaclosings.com
What's not in Columbia anymore..
Greg Goss
2018-04-09 00:16:44 UTC
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Post by Ted Nolan <tednolan>
Post by The Zygon
Post by The Zygon
Has anyone ever read a science fiction story about a society in which
men and women are really treated equally? I have read some in which it
_said_ that men and women are equal. But one detects subtle differences
in treatment in the story suggesting inequality.
How about stories where humans have gengineered themselves to reduce
sexual dimorphism? Sounds like a thing Iain M. Banks might mention
in passing about the Culture.
Or alternately, Niven't "boys" & "girls" from _A World Out Of Time_.
Seperate but equal.
I think that's a quite different answer than everyone had in mind.
The girls controlled the breeding stock, but the boys controlled the
sky in an abruptly unstable solar system.
--
We are geeks. Resistance is voltage over current.
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