No, not the act ‘sex’. I’m talking about the genitalia between your legs, because sex is the correct usage, not ‘gender’. I’ve wanted to discuss the topic of sex in SF/F since a discussion of it had cropped up on AW.
Now, in a galaxy far, far away… science fiction was once a male dominated genre, and a lot of the characters in SF were male. Optimistically, I like to think that has changed and there are more women writing in SF as well as female characters in SF.
So what’s the issue?
Male to female ratios. Apparently, some think that if you don’t have enough women in your SF universe, your universe is implausible! Or, they may just call you a sexist, as is the case for Star Wars. It’s hard to cram an entire universe into a single book, and if you do, the book ends up being a couple thousand pages long. A linear story is going to focus on what’s important: the plot and the characters involved in the plot. So no, we’re not going to see the entire universe and all the diversity. And nor am I going to hold a magnifying glass to the background to see how many vaginas there are. Because gosh darnit! There’s gotta be a space pilot with a vagina! Is space pilot #4 important to the story? No. So who cares what it is.
The characters should serve the story, not the other way around.
Look, I’m all for characters with two sets of genitals or characters with no genitals so long as it makes sense. Are the characters going to bump uglies or exchange DNA through pili? Then yes, it would help to know what sex the characters are. But one thing I can’t stand is when sex (the act) is just thrown into a story and it isn’t part of the plot or character growth. Make it relevant or just get it over with, because you’re holding up the story! (sorry, minor rant)
Now if you want a pro-wrestling woman as your main character, you’re going to have to work around the limitations of the female body. Sorry, but no matter what fantasy world you live in, men and women are biologically different. And yes, you will need to explain how a woman can be a wrestler and win the belt. If technology is allowed, then the woman can use nano enhancements, thus leveling the playing field. If this is fantasy, perhaps a strength spell or the woman is from a race of Amazonians.
Sex doesn’t matter.
I think this is what LeGuin was trying to get at in her novel The Left Hand of Darkness, where the planet Winter is populated by hermaphrodites. Male, female, whatever, the story should still be able to go on without us getting hung up on who has what between their legs.
*Edit* Found this AWESOME rant by Limyaael which sums up my feelings about this whole issue.