Science Fiction and Gender

Science fiction is one of the best genres for exploring gender. While other genres can be used to explore what gender means for its time and place SF is able to explore gender as it could be. What we would like gender construction to be or just explore challanges to how we percieve gender.

From genderless scentience like in the case of Le Guin’s story to the stigma surrounding gender association. Their is mentions made about third-genders in SF works like Star Trek.



In other SF films gender and human perception of it is explored in more depth. Films like Enemy Mine explore, sex, gender identity and the biology behind this. Having what viewers originally assume to be a male characters pregnant and then give birth challanges what viewers may assume a man to be or look like in ways other genres may not be able to.

Enemy Mine

While many other genres are able to challange gender identity through use of characters fighting or submitting to certain gender role SF is able to challange them in different ways. By showing men in women in already altered gender roles or by showing dystopias where the worst aspects of gender identity become obvious such as “The Girl Who Was Plugged In”.

SF can and sometimes is one of the best forms used to challange the status quo of gender idenity. In other ways it may just fall short of this such as the episode of Star Trek finally centered around someone of a “third gender”.

In this episode what starts off as a member of a Star Ship fighting against the ill treatment of this “third gender” falls short. The character Tucker seems to be fighting against the slavery of this third gender. In the end this episode cautions against interferance even in issues we would otherwise consider morally wrong. A strong emphasis is instead put on not forcing our cultural ideas on others even if they culturally practice enslaving a preportion of their own population based on gender.

SF can be used to challange the status quo of gender, enforce it or to emphasis non-interferance but I still would like to believe it can play a larger role in gender exploration then many other genres.

What do you think is SF the best genre for exploring gender identity?



4 thoughts on “Science Fiction and Gender”

  1. I agree that science fiction creates a unique opportunity for people to explore the ideas of gender. Because it is so far distanced from our reality, we can look at things with more freedom. I think its ability to look into the future is what makes it a really powerful tool for exploring gender issues, because it can be used to warn us, as well as provide a possible utopia for us to attain. Realistic stories are immediate for us, and interrogate in the moment, whereas science fiction can be deferred and dismissed (although, so can realism!). Do you think this removal provides some negative aspects?

    1. I agree that science fiction is the best genre for the exploration of gender roles. However, this is in my personal reading experience. In response to the question of whether the removal of the science fiction elements such as dystopias and time travel could provide some negative aspects, I will argue that it could be very possible. In the case that the false reality created in the hands of the author has become too far off from contemporary society could be read as a satire would deplete the moral message of the story. This would further be leaving the reader with the perception that stereotypes are simply rooted into society and will forever remain static. In exploring manipulations of gender constructs in various Ernest Hemingway stories, I must conclude that the elements inherent to SF offer a more engaging representation of experiments with society’s predetermined perception of the qualities that are specifically innate to either men or women. This is not to say that Hemingway had been incapable in projecting his views of what masculinity should look like, representing the repercussions of a feminized man through some great instance of failure or death. However, I simply find the motifs equated with SF as a more “fun” play on our expectations, therefore it is easer for me to want to explore them.

  2. I agree that science fiction is one of the best genres to explore gender. Since you don’t necessarily have the same preconceived notions about gender when you deal with an alien form as you do when you are exploring human characters then you can start fresh. There are plenty of opportunities to explore different genders or gender roles by bringing in alien characters that have no known expectations or gender guidelines.

  3. I think that exploring gender through science fiction is a very powerful tool because it allows for more opportunities that may not be available otherwise. This is especially key when it comes to women because it gives them the freedom to explore things in ways they may never have considered before. I think this could also open up the eyes of men to come to the realization that women do occupy a place in the literary world and they are pretty darn good at what they do!

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