Has anybody ever asked the question “does a person’s sex really matter? ” Of course we have, everybody has thought about it. The book describes various aspects of how it affects cultures and a society itself. When you think about an androgynous world it brings one’s mind to many different assumptions of how it would affect their lives, but there’s more than just how it affects the lives of androgynous people. Another question has to come into mind, How does a society like that reproduce. In the book The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K.
Le Guin gives a etailed description of just that and more. The people of Winter are androgynous, neither female nor male. They call it being “somer. ” Genly Ali is a normal person with sexual organs who goes to their world to study them. The first question everybody wants to know is “how do they reproduce? ” The people do this by a thing called “Kemmer. ” They are not sexually active unless they are in the cycle of kemmer. Kemmer is a process in which an individual develops sexual organs to be able to reproduce with one another.
There are four phases in kemmer. The first phase turns on certain hormones hat allows the individuals to feel “tremendously strong sexual impluses’ (96). During the first phase they do not receive a certain genital, they just have the urge to find a mate. Once an individual finds a mate, they go into the second phase called “kemmer, thorharmen. ” In this phase the two people develop either male or female organs. After the sex is determined the individuals enter the “culminant phase, Kemmer, karh, thokemmer. During this phase is when they can try to reproduce.
Once coitus happens they either conceive or do not. Ali describes this phase as “ending fairly abruptive’ (97). If the female does become pregnant she remains female until she is done breast feeding the baby. If they d not conceive, the female goes back to being androgynous. There are (catches) to this process though, neither people in kemmer know which sex they will become at that time. As well as if a person does not find a willing mate they will not continue on with the rest of the phases. Genly alleges “they have to be someone sexual frustrated” (idk).
Kemmer seems to be a blessing and a curse all at the same time. Genly Ali describes the people of Winter as “potentials or intergrls. (101) he calls them “manwomen. ” (101) He explains that it is hard for people who come from a society of sex to understand that statement. He explains further by using an example of when meeting these people. He says you shouldn’t do what your instincts tells you to do, “put them into a role of a man or women. ” (100) I think he was trying to say you have to look at them as a just a person, not a he or a she but a soul or a personality.
He gives an example of looking at these people as “preadolescents: not castrate but latent. ” (102) With this unique society they are many rules in place. These people do have the potential to have long term mates, though it is rare. They call it “vowing Kemmer. It is like mairrage with more extreme rules and is not acknowledged by the government. Once one vows kemmer, you are not allowed to divorse nor do kemmer again with anybody else, not even when a death of a partner happens. This affects their society because it allows the people to experience real love from a single person.
In a androgynous society everything is equal so even children do not love their parents like people with sexual organs do. Another rule is that incest is allowed. Anybody can mate with anybody; the only downfall is you are not allowed to vow kemmer with eachother if your incest. This affects the people in many different ways. In the book there is a story of two brothers vowing kemmer to one another. When the lord demanded they stop, one of the brothers committed suicide. It affected the other brother because the people place the suicide blame on him. The brother is exiled.
The brother explains his emotions as “I a without a face among men. I am not seen. I speak and am not heard. ” (24) That story allows us to understand how hard it s for a person in a society of androgynous people to live. The people there want to do kemmer and reproduce but sometimes feelings get in the way of the rules set by their government. A positive aspect of this genderless society Is that there is no bias to a certain sex, like men. Genly Ali make the point that “there is no division of humanity. ” (100) The people are not given responsibilities just because one is a man or women.
They are given such power only by earning it. Each person in power did not become so because it was their birthright. They become king ecause they earned the respect and trust of the people in their world. In this society there is no such thing as rape. I think of this as mammals reproducing. A person simple cannot have sex unless they have a kemmer mate willing to have sex and try to reproduce as well. This shapes how the people in general are looked at. In a gendered society woman can potentially fear men because men can overpower them, but on winter no such thing happens.
A society like this has potential to not have as much war. This genderless society shapes not only the way people eproduce and love one another. It shapes the basics of their families. The way they raise their children is extremely affected. The children are raised by both parents equally and in some villages they are raised by “nobody and everybody” (105). This happens because “everybody has the same risk to run or choice to make” (105). Ali points out that the mothers are not the only ones burdened with the responsibly of a child because everybody had an equal chance to become the mother.
One person in kemmer could not becomes the mother for that cycle, but the very next one could. This is a positive affect on their culture. The people do not abandon each other when a child is born and everybody helps raise their children. Not only does this affect the people’s relationships and values it also affects the way they view their time. These people have gone through history much slower than other gendered society have. They are still using ancient technology; such as steam engines. This can be blamed on the weather as well.
But I think not having to worry about how fast they can pass their genetics makes them slow down and enjoy life more. These people are ot impatient, they look in the present and are mindful of their surroundings. Ali says “a man can trust his luck but society can’t; and culture change, like random mutation, may make things chancier. ” (106) Meaning the people are not in a hurry to change something that could potential be dangerous or make things worse. Being androgynous also effects the way their politics are ran. It is both positive and negative. As mentioned earlier people who become to power are respected and trusted.
They can also end feuds by love easier because there are no limitations on who hey can fall in kemmer with. An example of this is when the two houses come together because two people kemmered had a child. Once the child was raised, the houses realized they should “vow to peace” with each other. (137) With this unique take on gender it dramatically shapes the peoples culture and society. It has many positives and negatives towards the society. A gender neutral society can teach people in a gendered society a lot about equalism. It shows us how to be fair towards other people and to be more more mindful in everyday life.