Tag Archives: sexualities

The Xena Reboot and Bisexual Erasure

Author’s Note 3-25-16: This is my personal reaction to the speculation surrounding the news that a Xena pilot has been ordered for a reboot. Obviously the world of TV is ever-changing, and this is all very early conjecture.

It’s funny that this news came out last week because I’ve recently been trying to re-watch the original Xena these last few weeks on Netflix. So far it’s been slow going; I have to watch it in bits and pieces because otherwise I feel overwhelmed by the ’90s and nostalgia for my childhood. I felt conflicted at first when I heard the news about the Xena reboot, but probably not for the reason a lot of other people are.

The producers have revealed that in the reboot, Xena will be an out and proud lesbian. This is huge and wonderful news, because a key relationship that was only ever sub-textually hinted at in the original will now be a main focus of the reboot. For a mainstream network (rumors are saying the pilot is being put on by NBC) this is a huge leap forward. I’m happy, and definitely want to see what a 2016 Xena show could look like. Better graphics, better writing, there’s so many possibilities for improvement.

But I’m also a little disappointed. In re-watching the show, my honest opinion is that Xena is bisexual. I’m sure a lot of that comes from the fact that they had to show relationships with men to draw a more mainstream crowd in the ’90s, and they couldn’t do more than hint at a relationship with Gabrielle. The fact that they felt that they had to choose only between two options for the reboot, though, is part of a bigger problem with bisexual erasure in our culture.

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Science Fiction Today – Gender

GI have heard Gender described as the civil rights fight of the next century. Well, that means much of the fight is in the future – Science Fiction time! Of course, first I think I want a definition of Gender.

Let’s peel some definitions apart. There’s “sex,” which is physically male or female. Then there is “gender” – often used as the word instead of “sex” – which is about masculine or feminine traits. Definitions on those traits are probably beyond the scope of a short post… Then there is “sexuality” which is about what sex one is attracted to… well, also probably which gender. All of these elements taken together could perhaps be called a “gender identity.”

Between all of those elements, there are a great many laws being passed – that increase or decrease freedom in these different areas. Laws like ones being passed in some countries against homosexuality. Or like laws being passed in the United states – in some states, allowing homosexual marriage… in others, trying to stop it. It’s a hot enough topic that I don’t think I can fully say what utopia or dystopia would look like with this – so let’s look at three possible future states.

Gender Difference Illegal

One way that the dice could fall is for the laws blocking any forms of gender difference – anything outside of masculine males who like women, and feminine women who like men – would be illegal. Parts of the laws to get to this point are already in place in many places.

Depending on how these things are defined, though, what would life look like? For instance, take the geeky things that we love here on the blog. They tend to be considered “guy” things – comic books and their movies, video games – but not “masculine” things. So who would get to enjoy these things?

Gender as a Non-Issue

Then again, there’s the other extreme – gender differences are all made legal, and we have all moved past them as an issue. But how likely is this? After all, there’s the hope that the same could be said of race, but that doesn’t seem to have happened…

Indeed, while many of the apparent legal barriers have been removed, racial tensions still exist. So while on one extreme there are legal pressures against difference, on the other extreme having none of those legal pressures does not inherently mean that society is cured of what ails it.

So how even do you get to a point where it’s a non-issue?

Genderless Society

Of course, if we really want to talk science fiction, then it’s not a legal remedy one way or another. It’s science. And I could see genetic engineering, eugenics, or some form mental or physical controls being used to “solve” the gender question.

Okay, if I’ve already mentioned race, then let me mention the book I just finished reading, The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin. In it, a character could change all of reality through dreaming. At one point, he dreams about a solution to racial difference – and he dreams that everyone was grey, that everyone had always been grey. No racial difference.

Okay… so is a solution like that utopian or is it dystopian? You tell me.

Historical Note: Though I used it as the conceit for this post, it is an oversimplification to think of gender identity as the civil rights battle of the next century. Even just thinking the last 150 years of American history, the basic narrative could at least be seen as race and slavery… then women’s suffrage… then race again… then feminism… then gay rights… to today, where honestly it feels like all of these things are in play. And it was probably the same in the past: all of these things were in play at once. None of them are a “start” and “stop” dialog, and there is no clear “end” to them either.

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, and also part of our occasional series on Science Fiction Today. You can read an explanation of both here. We are striving to keep these posts short, and know that we have not covered every example or angle – plenty of room for discussion!

“Wibbly-Wobbly Sexy-Wexy”: Queer Comic Anthologies

Guest post by Leah of The Lobster Dance, a blog about Japan, gender, media, and culture (with a heavy dose of manga and geekery) and I’ll Make It Myself!a food blog.

People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect. But actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey… stuff. — Doctor Who

“Wibbly-Wobbly, Sexy-Wexy”…: sexuality, like time, can be looked at from a “non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint.” —Anything That Loves, based on a comment at Comic Con

John Lustig. Anything That Loves. p. ii

John Lustig. Anything That Loves. p. ii

My taste in comics has always run a bit queer*of the center. If a comic has a sword-fighting woman or an androgynous character (or both at once if you please), I’ve probably read it. And much to the horror of misogynist nerds who think nerd girls do it for the ships (and what of it?!), the one thing guaranteed to get me interested in your superhero features is a queer love story. Why? The introduction of non-heteronormative romances often means that both the character and the general narrative are far more likely to break out of gender norms regarding romance.

NSL216

Dan Savage and Ellen Forney (1994). “My First Time in Drag.” No Straight Lines, p. 216.

Furthermore, I (and many others, I suspect) have a theory that we seek out and stick with media that show us a reflection of ourselves and a reflection of our desired future selves; the tropes we return to over and over are a rough guideline to where we fit into the broader narrative of our lives.

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