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Google those words and you get about 73,600,000 results (0.35 seconds) if you trust their alogarithms.  I'm sure it's ball park.  I only want to talk about one science fiction book and how it addresses sex, and that is Ursula K. LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness

You can't grow up with three brothers and not find at least one sci fi geek in there.  Sci fi leads to adult fantasy, and for me the logical path was Star Trek -> The Hobbit/ Lord of the Rings -> The Earthsea Trilogy -> All Things LeGuin.  Ms. LeGuin does not just "invent" new worlds and species, she invents new religions, and eventually, a new gender.  

The Left Hand of Darkness is a 1969 science fiction novel by Ursula K. Le Guin. It is part of the Hainish Cycle, a series of books by Le Guin set in the fictional Hainish universe, which she inaugurated in 1966.[2] It is considered by some to be one of the first major works of feminist science fiction.[citation needed]  Yes the Wiki entry says [citation needed]!

In The Left Hand of Darkness,  she creates the planet "Gethen," which early explorers called "Winter" because it is still in an ice age.  The novel is told, in alternate chapters, from the view point of one Genly Ai, a "first Mobile" to the planet Gethen, hoping to convince them to join the member worlds of the Hainish universe, and from the point of view of a Gethenian named Estrovan, who befriends and assists him.  But before the first Mobile, the "Ekumen," a sort of guiding council, sends "Investigators," who blend in as best they can, without announcing their intentions.  Their goal is took gather preliminary information and "learn the language."  From field notes of an Investigator:

[Chapter 7.  A Question of Sex]

It seems likely they were an experiment....  Accident, possibly; natural selection, hardly.  Their ambisexuality has little or no adaptive value. way of suggesting the "origin" of this species; however, it is science fiction and doesn't exist, so lets go on.
The sexual cycle averages 26 to 28 days. ...  For 21 or 22 days, the individual is somer, sexually inactive, latent.  On or about the 18th day hormonal changes are initiated in the pituitary control and on the 22nd or 23rd day the individual enters kemmer, estrus.
Basically, when a Gethenian goes into estrus, they will eventally manifest as male or female, with no predisposition toward either gender.  "The mother of several children may be the father of many more."  And, as the narrator continues:
There are aspects of ambisexuality which we have only glimpsed or guessed at, and which I'm sure we will never grasp entirely.  ...  Anyone can turn their hand to anything.  ...  Burden and privledge are pretty much shared out equally.
Everyone shares the same possibility of being "tied down" equally by childbearing and child rearing.  Male privledge does not exist.  Politics exists, however, and the gender issue interweaves with the political intrigues quite neatly.  
“The Gethenians do not see one another as men or women. This is almost impossible for our imaginations to accept. After all, what is the first question we ask about a newborn baby? ....there is no division of humanity into strong and weak halves, protected/ protective. One is respected and judged only as a human being. You cannot cast a Gethnian in the role of Man or Woman, while adopting towards 'him' a corresponding role dependant on your expetations of the interactions between persons of the same or oppositve sex. It is an appalling experience for a Terran [earthling]”

There are so many aspects of this novel about which to write, but I'm confining myself right now to this "question of sex."  We have been discussing here to various degrees the existence of intersexuality and the gender spectum.  To contemplate a world with an androgynous population is my extention of that discussion.  

Genly Ai comes to this conclusion, speaking of Estravan, a Gethenian with whom he comes to work closely in the furtherance of Genly's ultimate goal:

And I saw then again, and for good, what I had always been afraid to see, and had pretended not to see in him: that he was a woman as well as a man.  Any need to explain the sources of that fear vanished with the fear; what I was left with was, at last, acceptance of him as he was. ...  I had not wanted to give my trust, my friendship to a man who was a woman, a woman who was a man.

But, at the moment of conception, we are all men who are women, and women who are men.  Pianos with all the same keys.  The only difference in what music we manifest is in the hands of the musical score chosen, which is the controlling gene which switches the selected genes on and off, and in the pianist [pun intended], the individual choices we make of what to do with what we have.

Genly tries to explain to Estraovan what a bisexual society is like, but cannot.  The individual differences between human beings are so great as to not allow him to make neat little catagories like "men" and "woman" explainable to someone who lacks the concept.  In the end, we are ourselves, alone.  Because, in the end, regardless of gender, “A profound love between two people involves, after all, the power and chance of doing profound hurt.”

In closing, I will leave you with Tormer's Lay, a "poem" in the book from which the title derives:

“Light is the left hand of darkness
and darkness the right hand of light.
Two are one, life and death, lying
together like lovers in kemmer,
like hands joined together,
like the end and the way.”

Originally posted to wadingthroughthebs on Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 11:52 AM PST.

Also republished by Sex, Body, and Gender and Community Spotlight.

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