ahn-kel seeks ahn-ros for discreet encounter

No discussion of approaches to gender in the Associated Worlds would be complete without mention of the peculiar customs of the mourcalt of the Trailing Assembly.

The mourcalt‘s biology gave them an exceptional degree of sexual dimorphism, which is typically correlated with strong gender archetypes, as indeed it was in their case. When in time this proved unsatisfactory for later stages of their social development, and yet seemed difficult or impossible to overcome per se, the Assembly’s governance opted for an unconventional solution – purchasing an extensive memetic campaign to disassociate, as far as possible, the concepts of sex and gender in the mourcalt mind, and so far as was possible, to create a gender-concept that was free of existing archetypes.

The first part of this campaign succeeded magnificently. Citizens of the Assembly are now randomly assigned to one of eighteen genders at birth, and both ongoing memetic practice and cultural inertia ensures that this remains their psychosocial gender throughout life. (Indeed, this has succeeded to such an extent that mourcalt involved in the sexual marketplace must maintain an appropriate degree of doublethink in consciously finding a partner of a permissible gender for theirs, while simultaneously being unconsciously aware of them being the appropriate sex.

The second part, however, succeeded only insofar as the new genders were free of existing archetypes. Within the first few years of the new system, de novo archetypes for each of the new genders had come into being, and in the present day have hardened into rigid sets of behaviors, customs, and expectations for all eighteen genders (such as, for example, which genders may pair with which other genders for sexual or intimacy purposes, which are curiously disjoint sets), proving if anything even more binding on those claiming them than the old genders tied to biological sex were.

This gender-norming has led in turn to the rise of the ahn-gazet subculture among the mourcalt, which attempts to conceal and obfuscate all visible signs of the psychosocial gender and biological sex, permitting them to act as they please, and to the large number of mourcalt expatriates many of whom reject the Assembly’s gender system, were former ahn-gazet whose gender had become publicly known, or both.

– Unconventional Approaches to Gender Identity,
Makar, Melodion & Avila,
in the Quarterly Journal of Social Exosophontology,
vol. MMCCXIV, no. iii

Trope-a-Day: Stay in the Kitchen

(No fic today, sorry… for reasons of pie. Urp.)

Stay in the Kitchen: Averted in the Empire, where Gender Is No Object.  No-one there would think of saying it – and when someone from elsewhere says it, they will have the damndest time trying to get the Imperial to understand what the heck they’re driving at.

And they really won’t like what happens if they succeed.

(“…so, you’re telling me that ‘rip him a new one’ is also a metaphor where you come from?”)

 

Trope-a-Day: Spaceship Girl

Spaceship Girl: Every time a female-presenting digisapience uses a starship as a cybershell, yes.  Of course, they can equally well be the resident operating intelligence of a habitat, or other vehicle (Spacestation Girl), and by no means all present as female (Spaceship Chap?), so it’s also subverted a fair bit.

(As a side note, whatever the gender of the operating intelligence, the gender attributed to the actual ships in question tend to be mixed; eldraeic tradition is that a vessel takes the gender opposite that of its first captain, and so…)

Trope-a-Day: One Gender Race

One Gender Race: There are a few of these, most of them having got that way via their evolutionary process never having figured out sex, or natural hermaphroditism, or merely looking this way because of extreme sexual dimorphism; but also some exceptions – digisapiences, for example, have neither sex nor gender by default, although some of them adopt one.  Many bioshells are manufactured in only one sex, usually neuter, and some clades – usually the made-to-an-ideal kind, likewise, without said usually.

But there are occasional weird exceptions.  The shan kari, for example, are recovering from an approximation of this state (very slowly, because it did quite the psychological number on them, too), the anti-self-replication code in their robots having, through generalization, led to something of a Gendercide.  Oops.

Do I Consider Myself A Feminist Writer?

…is the latest question to come through the anonymous message box.

Oh, boy.

“I don’t discuss my process.”

Oh, wait, I do discuss my process? I’ve discussed my process often, in the past? Well, crap.

Well, the unhelpful mathematician’s answer – that also does happen to be true – is that I don’t consider myself an “X writer” for virtually any value of “X”, except possibly “speculative fiction”. But I guess I owe you, anonymous questioner, a little more than that.

The more detailed answer is “it depends on what you mean by that”.

Do I endeavor to have an appropriately representative number of female characters who are competent, agentive, and not defined as some male someone’s accessory? Do I try to depict a society in which people are judged based on their individual merits and character, rather than by prejudicial stereotypes and situationally-irrelevant epiphenomena (specifically including sex, gender, etc., among many other things), and in which all sophonts (regardless of the aforementioned) enjoy the same natural rights, the same civil rights, equality before the law, and possess equal social opportunities1?

Well, yes, yes I do. I do not necessarily claim that I always succeed as well as I would like to, but it is my intention, and I do think my corpus bears it out.

(But, of course, this is never mentioned explicitly, which some might argue means it doesn’t count. But it can’t be, for reasons of worldbuilding integrity. You never hear a fish say, “my, the water sure is wet today” – because no-one comments on the status quo when it’s been that way for as long as the status has been quo. If you tried to explain the Earth-now way of these things, patriarchy, etc., to an Imperial citizen-shareholder, 95% of them wouldn’t understand what you were driving at, and the remaining 5% of professional sophontologists, adventure tourists, and the like, would nod politely and explain that that sort of thing is indexed under barbarian outworlders be crazy, yo.

This is also why this doesn’t come up even when dealing with said barbarian outworlders. An Imperial confronted by some icky patriarchy out in the Periphery isn’t going to think of it in specifically feminist terms, having neither interior nor historical experience with such a thing. She’s much more likely to think of it as just another rationalization-memeplex cooked up by noxious slaving fuckheads to justify strutting about with their jackboots on, because no rational being could possibly take such ideas seriously in the first place, could they…?)

Am I trying to depict a desirable social model, in feminist terms? (Or, indeed, in any other terms.) Well, inasmuch as I do think a social model in which people are judged by the truth of their talents and the content of their character without reference to the presumptions attached to the morphology of their genitalia would be a great improvement over our present one, perhaps. But I’m a writer, not a social engineer. I’m trying to depict a non-human society that is that way in terms that are true to itself, not as a prescription for how humans ought to live, and that is shaped by distinctly inhuman instincts and ideas.

Am I deliberately attempting to promote that particular viewpoint – as a political viewpoint – in/through my writing? No, and for two reasons:

1. I hate message fiction. To some extent, whatever the message, because subordinating the coherence of the world and the thread of the plot to a message usually makes for terrible, terrible fiction. This is even more the case when it’s a message that I might agree with, because I don’t generally think it helps to promote a particular thing to produce bloody awful anvilicious books about it.

Now, sure, my own views on The Truth Of Things And The Oughts Of Things I’m sure shape my creativity in plenty of ways; such is the nature of the game. But for my money, I’m much better off, and they’re much better off, just letting them come out in the nature of the worlds I shape rather than beating people over the head with sermons about The Right Thing, You Idiots. I’m a writer, a storyteller, and very much not a preacher.

2. I’m an ornery cuss who has never found any political or activist group ever, typically including both sides of any given debate, that I could stomach, and in the past I’ve rarely been shy of saying so. Even – maybe even especially – the ones I mostly agree with. So – whatever my views expressed above may mean for compatibility of desired ends – even if it wasn’t for the message-fiction thing, political feminism wouldn’t have me, and I wouldn’t have it.

All that being said, of course, if someone comes up to me in thirty years and tells me that reading my books as a little girl inspired them to give the finger to toxic social expectations and become a high-powered megacorp CEO like, say, Giléä Cheraelar or a bad-ass space navy admiral like Caliéne Sargas2, I reserve the right to be pretty damn pleased about it.


1. I can’t say social equality, inasmuch as they do practice hard-edged meritocracy to go along with their equality of opportunity, and it would seem odd to say political equality inasmuch as the political equality everyone has in the Empire is the opportunity to be shot in the face for attempting to practice politics. But, hey, anyone of any sex, etc., who tries to practice politics is equally likely to be shot in the face, so.

2. Albeit possibly slightly worried in this case, inasmuch as Caliéne Sargas is a bloodthirsty-and-proud-of-it functional sociopath. But, hey, it takes all sorts.

Trope-a-Day: Men Are The Expendable Gender

Men Are The Expendable Gender: Averted in both ways.  Firstly, of course, because greater valxíjir and lesser sexual dimorphism with regards to the distribution of various things, etc., produces a very large number of “uppity” women who just plain wouldn’t stand for it.  And secondly, because the demographics and relatively low birth rate are such that neither sex is “stupid, expendable, or going”.  We Have Reserves has never been a useful strategy.  That’s what mechanicals are for.

Trope-a-Day: Opposite Sex Clone

Opposite Sex Clone: Fairly trivial, for an Imperial level of bioengineering (X-doubling, made easier by earlier eugeneering out of bad recessives, or synthetic X), and done (a) on a relatively infrequent basis for reproduction and (b) rather more often to produce spare (empty) bodies of the other sex.  See Gender Bender.

It is also probably worth noting that “opposite” is a little inaccurate, since “herm” and “neuter” are among the common possibilities…

(If you’re planning to Screw Yourself, on the other hand, you’d better take option (b) and occupy your clone’s brain with a fork of you, since if you make a new person and you’re the one who raised them, you’re going to run straight into major consent problems of the intergenerational incest kind, which is very, very much an ethical and legal no-no.)

Trope-a-Day: Gendercide

Gendercide: Happened, incompletely (two-thirds of the female population killed), to the shan kari, when their learning robots generalized their anti-self-replication police-code to things that weren’t robots, and therefore concluded that it was necessary to wipe out the female of the species due to their built-in factories for making more of themselves.

Today, the Shan Kari Confederacy is known for its skewed sex ratio, its extensive use of forced-growth cloning, and its extreme hostility towards robotic technology and digital sophonts.

Trope-a-Day: Gender is No Object

Gender Is No Object: Played almost straight with the eldrae, due to any and all of: lesser sexual dimorphism; population demographics that made it impractical to waste much of the capacity of half the population – at least if one didn’t want to get one’s ass kicked by one’s neighbors with a less bizarre approach to sophont resources; other consequences of low birth rate; and the even distribution of mental strength and in particular qalasír which would render trying to enforce such a thing highly unwise. ‘Cause she’ll/he’ll kill you with her/his brain.

(Note: that’s not a comparison of women to men, but eldrae to humans.  We’re willing to put up with a lot more bullshit, as individuals and as a species – hell, it’s right there in the brain architecture differences – than they are before doing anything about it.  This plays out in any number of ways, in their social context – it just happens that one of them is that were some benighted sod, in the rough-and-tumble days of yore before current civilization, to have come up with a doctrine of male supremacy, he undoubtedly would have acquired a blade in the gullet from the first woman who understood what he was driving at.  Which is almost certainly sufficient to explain why no such thing ever made it into the historical record.

The gender-flipped reverse, naturally, also applies.)

Of course, that is almost straight.  A few professions are gender-imbalanced, mostly for various historical reasons, although occasionally for physiological – the legions are 2:1 male-heavy and the navy 3:2 female-heavy, for example, if we eliminate the herms and neuters and other from consideration – but every profession – yes, including all those ones we hang stereotypes off of – has all genders represented, and generally accepts and treats them all without distinction.

Of course, it’s all rendered even more meaningless in the modern era, seeing as changing sex is something that’s not merely easy, it’s something that’s widely practiced, even just out of curiosity, so it’s not like those gender ratios are made up of the same people all the time anyway.

(And yes, all the ‘freshers are unisex.  But then, they’re also not shared.  That’s barbaric.)

Trope-a-Day: Gender Blender Name

Gender Blender Name: There weren’t all that many of these in historical times, but in the modern era, there are a great many – or at least, names adjusted such that you can change their gender with a tiny flip of the ending syllable(s).  After all, with gender changing becoming such a trivial exercise in the modern era… well, just because you’re going to be a different gender this year doesn’t mean you want to change your entire identity, amirite?

Trope-a-Day: Gender Bender

Gender Bender: Fairly trivial to achieve with Empire-level biotech, whether done by growing an opposite-sex bioshell (or, y’know, other sex; it’s not like hermaphrodite and neuter haven’t been invented, and not every species uses the same sexes anyway) and mindcasting into it, or if one is of one of the clades that has the facility built in (hermaphromorphs).

Also, not exactly uncommon. It’s distributed much like the Kinsey scale mentioned in Bi The Way; while there are at one end of the notional scale people who have one preferred sex they use all the time, and at the other end of the scale people who change sex about as often as they change pants, the majority of people are somewhere in the middle and are mostly/but sometimes. Certainly, it would be very unwise to assume that the person one’s talking to had always been the same sex, even if only just to see what it’s like.

(ObControversy: Gender-identity-wise, the processes use involve rewriting the subconscious – but not the conscious – aspects such that one feels comfortable in one’s new body. After all, it would rather suck having to figure out how these new organs work and what they’re telling you, or having to relearn how to walk ’cause your hips don’t work that way any more, etc.

*Here*, some people would undoubtedly suggest using that to “cure” transsexuals, rather than the equally possible “so, change your sex to what you feel it ought to be, already” option.

*There* – well, a people who worship with fluency, fervor and zeal at the altar of self-identity and personal autonomy aren’t, obviously, going to have any truck with that idea. And, if asked for an opinion, would tell people to go with whichever option they felt best represented their own concept of themselves, because who you want to be is your own damn business, other people’s narrow views and naturalistic fallacies be damned. [In practice, I suspect that usually means the latter option.]

And on an authorial note, I find it preferable to depict a society that refrains from being assholes even when the technological option exists rather than ensure that the option doesn’t exist because many-real-Earth-humans would be assholes with it. YMMV, but mine feels no need to project monkey-brain phenomena on the rest of the universe. It has its own.

Here endeth the speechifying.)

Trope-a-Day: Elfeminate

Elfeminate: On the one hand, played straight. If there’s one thing that can be said for certain about the eldrae on first glance, it is that they are an extremely pretty species – by virtue of cultural virtues and fairly extensive engineering – that tends to the tall, slender, non-obviously-muscular, delicate-featured pattern. (Reference the Pretty Boy and Bishonen tropes if you like, dependent on your personal cultural region membership – although note that the male of the species, unlike various of those examples, can grow facial hair.) Other contributing factors include a lesser degree of sexual dimorphism (or quadrimorphism these days, but let’s leave the herms and neuters out of it for now), a common cultural tendency towards long hair, jewelry and discreet make-up being acceptable for both sexes, and a common social pattern that tends to be orderly, formalized, polite, and self-consciously civilized, which (at least if you ignore certain other factors) might read to, say, humans, as feminized.

On the other hand, the modal eldraeic stereotype of either sex is forceful, dynamic, heavily armed, and quite likely to stab you for making stupid, offensive comments. So it goes; everyone being evidently quite confused about how gender stereotypes for humanoids are supposed to work.

Trope-a-Day: Easy Sex Change

Easy Sex Change: Reinstantiation (see Body Surf) into a body of the appropriate sex, if available, will do it instantly; meanwhile, if that’s not available or desirable, a day or two spent in a medical vat while the proteus nanomachines take you apart and reassemble you appropriately will do the job.  Neuter and hermaphrodite are, of course, also options.

Of course, this just changes physical sex.  Gender identity and sexual orientation are different matters – which are dealt with by appropriate editing (animus-anima remapping, et. al.) of the relevant regions of one’s mind-state vector to suit – a service usually offered by the same clinics that offer the physical change.

(See also: In Just Seven Days…)

Ethnographical Questionnaire: IV. Questions of Family

So, I’ve recently been working on answering the “Ethnographical Questionnaire” set of worldbuilding questions for my conculture – not quite this version, but another version by the same person, I think – in the interest of, by so doing, expanding on all sorts of areas and possible unconsidered lacunae in my current imaginings. I thought I’d share each section with y’all as I got it done.

Previously answered:

III. Questions of Race and Ethnicity
XII. Questions of Sex


How many spouses may a man or woman have?

As many as they can persuade to contract with them; there’s no particular legal or social limit.  One is the social default/assumption for the eldrae, but those species and individuals both who prefer polyadic relationships are on safe and comfortable ground.  (Oh, and it’s not transitive; if A is married to B and B is also married to C, A is not married to C – unless the contract says otherwise, of course.  Make up your own topology – star, line, ring, helix…)

Who decides on a marriage?

The involved parties, and only the involved parties.  Matchmakers may matchmake, it is true, and friends and family may drop broad hints and arrange introductions, but family, parents, society, gods, and everyone else need not think they get to decide anything, here.  Anyone who even thought about inventing the arranged marriage, the shotgun wedding, or other means of forcing someone into such an arrangement would run straight into the culture’s attitudes on Coercion, Evils Of, followed by Slavers, The Righteousness Of The Shooting Of, in the worst possible ways.  Shudder.

Can a marriage end in divorce? How?

Well, it’s not called divorce, but a marriage can end in three ways:

1. If it’s written into the contract that defines the marriage.  This includes options to terminate at-will (mutual or individual), automatic termination after a fixed term with option to renew, etc., etc.

2. If both parties mutually agree to terminate the contract, even if such an option didn’t exist beforehand.

3. If one party defaults on the contract.  What exactly this includes mostly depends on what’s written into it in the first place (adultery, for example, counts as default if the contract includes promises of sexual/emotional exclusivity; financial misfeasance may well; domestic violence [see below] always does; and so on.)

Who usually takes custody of children if a marriage ends for some reason?

What happens to orphans?

In either case, it’s down to the contract, if the parents saw fit to make arrangements (and, in the event of default, bearing in mind that under any normal arrangement a defaulter on the marriage contract has defaulted on his children, too).  If not, the genarchs of the families (since – see below – children are not necessarily counted in the same lineage) find, bearing in mind this and keeping siblings together and so forth get to discuss matters and find the best place to put them in the families.  Failing such a voluntary arrangement, it will ultimately go to the courts to find the optimal place – but the courts get very ironic if they have to intervene in this sort of thing that people should be able to sort out amicably without making them take it to court.

Doubly so if they have to make these arrangements for young children after a voluntary termination of contract, because parents have contractual responsibilities to their children, and they really do not like people who play silly buggers with those.

How are families named?

Family names generally take the form “House-ith-Lineage”, which can reasonably be interpreted as “clan; family within that clan”.  Where the House and lineage name are the same (meaning the senior family of the House), they can be elided into just “House”.  Family names are neither matrilineal nor patrilineal.  Rather, children take the family name of their opposite-sex parent and are counted part of that family; i.e., siblings of different sexes would be considered members of different families.

How are boy and girl children treated differently?

By and large, they aren’t, except in re biologically or morphologically implied necessities.  See also under VIII, Questions of Labor (when I post it), in which I point out the lack of a distinction between “men’s work” and “women’s work” among sane and reasonable people; well, the universe isn’t kind enough to always guarantee that someone of the appropriately arbitrary sex is there when a job needs doing, so everybody gets to learn to cook and run a forge and make clothes and earn a living and sew embroidery and wrangle balky machinery back into operation and make beer and do science and raise children and shoot and fight if necessary (for “those without swords can still die upon them”) and and and and and…

People are people, and need to learn all the skills needed by people.  The universe also isn’t kind enough to give us the luxury of wasting the potential potential of large chunks of the population by declaring things Not Their Business.  And even if it did, doing so would be pure idiocy.

What, if anything, is considered a good marriage gift?

The traditional marriage gifts (from the families) are a forge and a fruit tree, in honor of the twin aspects of Medáríäh, eikone of fertility and mass production; in traditional and old families, an exchange with each other (the families) of statuettes of the principals for the family shrines; and weapons for the defense of the new household.  (Only the most formal of the war-temples require the happy couple to use them immediately.)  Those marrying don’t exchange gifts, because they’re giving themselves each other.

Gifts for the newly married from friends and relatives vary widely; they’re usually not household goods, because people tend to marry at a late enough age that they already have everything they need, if not twice as much.  Extra points go to close friends who can slip some sly ribaldry in without letting everyone know they’re doing it.

What inanimate or sexless things are considered male or female?

Sufficiently complex machinery – essentially, anything complex enough in behavior, principally meaning vehicles, heavy machinery, computers, assorted autonomous machinery, cities, etc. – is often anthropomorphized sufficiently to be given a name, and having been given the name, is assigned the appropriate gender in speech despite this being a technical solecism.  (For ships, the tradition is that the ship takes the opposite gender to his/her first captain, and most other such namings follow this pattern.)

Does this society connect the ideas of marriage with love?

Absolutely.  They’re a hopelessly romantic lot, and as such have a hard time imagining why else you might want to marry, really, given how many simpler ways there are to arrange most of those other things.

(But, as I said before, where it differs substantially from most of our cultures’ fluffy romantic notions, is that it also emphasizes that marriage and love are also extremely hard work, and that there are no Magic Relationship Fairies who will make it work out for you, or more importantly, keep it working out for you as the years, and decades, and centuries, and millennia roll by. Rather, it makes it very clear that you, newly-minted spouse, have just acquired a whole new obligation and career in making it work, and unilateral quitting is not an option for a gentlesoph, etc. It also, in fairness, tries its best to provide you with the tools to do the job, ranging from those which would be relatively familiar to us, to such uniquely-to-long-lived-species notions as taking ten or twenty years to go off and do your own thing, the theory being that at the end of that, you’ll both have a lot more to talk about, plus the chance to remember all the things that made you fall in love and want to marry in the first place…)

How big are families, typically?

Individual families usually contain, say, the parents and three to four children, but given the eldrae lifespan, those children can be spread out over hundreds if not thousands of years; except for twins, it is extraordinarily rare for your siblings to be within a century of you in age.  That being said, all of these are part of sprawling extended families (the Houses) and almost always interact with their myriad cousins and other relatives.

What constitutes a household? How many people live in one household? How many generations?

Households vary widely in size and structure.  The largest tend to be the home estates of the Houses, which can house hundreds of people over a dozen generations under one (admittedly very large) roof.  Sizes then vary down through the cluster-house (a half-dozen or so houses and private gardens around the inside of a circular wall, sharing common space in the middle), usually shared between an extended farm household or several generational/related/friendly nuclear families in an urban setting, to the single house or apartment-house occupied by a single couple or even single individual; the latter becoming more common in the modern era now the cluster-house’s advantages in defensibility and shared infrastructure are no longer so significant.

Are girls or boys preferred and why?

Neither, except for occasional idiosyncratic personal preferences.  Reasons being much the same as given above concerning them being treated differently.

How common is domestic violence? Is it understood to be a problem, or a normal aspect of family life?  If it is seen as problematic, what is being done about it?

Rare, very rare.  You see, eldrae by nature are very, very self-willed types who are thus disinclined to acquiesce to external self-valuations, and long before you can reduce one to the psychological state in which they’ll accept the way you’re treating them, you’ll pass through the psychological state in which they’ll reach out and gut you like a sturgeon, you lousy Defaulter bastard.  (Or someone else offended by your behavior will, which amounts to pretty much the same thing in the end.)

This ‘solution’ to the problem pleases everybody, and so nothing further seems necessary to do in those cases.  (Although there are legal mechanisms to take care of the rest, usually with a similar conclusion.)

Domestic Technology

Another interesting article here (hat tip: Eclipse Phase blog), concerning the gender distribution of the future, and in particular its technologies, complete with real-world examples of the differential between the (assumed-male) public sphere and (assumed-female) domestic sphere.  And here’s a relevant paragraph for you:

One of the things that has frustrated me about science fiction is that technology pertaining to the smaller aspects of our lives is often neglected in favor of big giant rockets and exotic weaponry. Birth control seems non-existent and childbirth is still rocking the stirrups. And the home is at best not mentioned much. One of the things that “the future,” when we use that word as a metonymy for an idealized world in which machines solve all our problems, is supposed to do for us is give us time. Relieve us from work that is repetitive or unpleasant and allow us the sheer, simple hours in the day to do more. And yet, by far the biggest time sink going is the need to clean our habitats, prepare food and clothing, and maintain our environments. For those who have always had the, dare I say, privilege of ignoring that work, you simply cannot imagine how much time it takes to do all that and then turn around and do it again, often multiple times a day if there are offspring at play. Despite the fact that we here in the first world are supposed to have leveled up our gender equality stat, women still perform the majority of this labor, often in addition to a full shift outside the home. Fully automating this activity would free humanity on a scale that even the most awesome BFG can’t even begin to contemplate.

Now, the civilized polities of the Associated Worlds are not inclined to the strange kinks of humanity in this regard.  (Yes, the darëssef term for those who look after domestic matters – as well as infrastructure maintenance, repair, and medicine, but details – in the Empire is “hearthmistress”.  That’s a devil’s bargain with Translation Convention, inasmuch as it is unreasonably hard, although it’s still easier than in most European languages, to use English without dropping gender implications all over the place, there is no adequate gender-neutral term that fits, and “hearthmaster” carries all the wrong connotations for an English-speaker because English-speaking cultures come preloaded with wacky gender ideas. Sigh.  Nonetheless, the gender split there, as in most of the darëssef, is pretty close to even.)

End digression.  My point, mostly, is that I have a lot of notes in my worldbuilding wiki addressing this point, and concerning the plentiful domestic technology that exists, in re self-cleaning clothing, and self-aware homes, and preemptively helpful appliances and domestic robots, and any number of other things whose existence is very much intended to address this problem in the in-world sense, and yet, despite having done the worldbuilding on the various things intended to make the pointlessness of domestic labor a quaint historic footnote for actual sophont people, it hasn’t exactly shown up on screen.  (Nor, for that matter, to address another mentioned area, has the equivalent of the Bujoldian uterine replicator, but then, given the demographics, it would have less occasion to.)

I really should do something about that.  Maybe something from the point of view of the house

Pronoun Choices

And, based on that last story, it looks like I’ve elected to use the Egan-style ve/ver/vis pronouns for the neuter gender (the friend, although it never comes up, was a kaliatar; a neuter member of a trisexual species).

Still haven’t settled on which English pronouns to use for herm, though.  Hm.  (And part of me is now trying to remember unsuccessfully which pronoun(s) Bujold used for Bel Thorne, et. al. in the Vorkosigan books.  Not that fiction-writing has binding precedents, or anything, but still.  Curious.)