Monday, January 30, 2012

Not Two or One but none???

Though there is no specific sex for the people in Left Hand of Darkness, I cannot help but picture every single character as male.  Using he’s instead of she’s, is part of this problem for me in the reading.  As much as I try, I cannot meet a new character and not place them in the category of him or her.  Ai mentions how he deals with this same dilemma, as identifying someone as a woman or man seems so necessary in human culture.  I did not realize how structurally important gender is to even something basic like a conversation which uses him's and hers.  While meeting new characters I catch myself asking hm…is this person more female or male?  My mind is wired to place each one somewhere and shutting this down is not doable for me.  Sensing emotional softness within Estraven I immediately say to myself, “ok, male appearance but this character would be female.  When I see Karhide in my mental creation, there are all men and no woman outer appearances.  The idea of peoples with no sexual orientation is so easy to say I understand but so frustratingly hard to drill into my ideas of these people in the book.  I feel as if my brain won’t illustrate or even comprehend what’s going on until having placed each person in their role of female or male.  It’s driving me insane and I think by doing this, readers can relate so well to what Ai may be feeling. 


  1. I agree completely! My mind keeps drifting towards confusion because I do no understand. I think the biggest thing is ok... what do they look like if they are not male or female? Ah! I understand your frustration though, and by default every person in the story is a man. And I am not sure if that is because we are told "he" over and over again or if I just cannot picture anyone else. But either way it is super frustrating!

  2. In our culture, the default tends to be male, and Genly follows that tradition. What would the reading experience be like if all the pronouns were female?