Thanks to the fact that I follow @KateClancy on Twitter, I found out about an essay she’d been cited in: Get ready for the sexapocalypse (some say it’s already here). Possible scenarios discussed in the essay include a world where gender completely ceases to exist, a future where body parts mutate into genitalia at random, and an extrapolation of today’s sex-selective abortions wherein men outnumber women so much that women begin to be bought and sold as scarce commodities.
The idea of a sexapocalypse is interesting to ponder; its very basis depends in part on what you think is feasible when it comes to sex and sexuality in our world. Would eradicating gender roles lead to chaos and the downfall of society, or cause us to transcend social limitations and become angelic? Would meeting an alien species that had three genders, or none at all, challenge our ideas about binary gender? Many of these ideas have already been addressed in science fiction (see Octavia Butler’s excellent Xenogenesis trilogy, for example), but they’re still worth pondering.
I’m inclined to think that humanity can do better than the strict sex/gender system (to borrow a phrase from feminist Gayle Rubin) that most societies have come up with – but enough people (i.e. those in power, or who think they benefit from the current system even if they do not) are invested enough in the current sex/gender system that they’ll fight transforming it. And that, I think, is where speculative storytelling is useful and intriguing: it’s totally worth exploring how transformative and conservative elements motivate people to act, or not act, when the systems around them begin changing.
I don’t think anyone can quite predict how sex and gender will change in the future, but I do know that if aliens or scientists or mutants present us with options that let us decouple our humanity from our sex or gender, I’ll be in favor of exploring those options. See also Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto, in which she says “I’d rather be a cyborg than a goddess.”
What do you think the sexapocalypse would look like?
Follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. Follow Jeana, the author of this post, @foxyfolklorist.