quadratur: (Ironman)
[personal profile] quadratur

Once in a while I enjoy reading genderswap-fics, mostly in fandoms where it's possible like Avengers, Supernatural, Harry Potter and such. Although I think they should be called sex-swap because in most cases the characters change their sex but not really their gender. also most fics don't really address the topic of gender, or do so without the writers maybe being fully aware of doing it?

One of the things I always find extremely weird is that when male character A suddenly ends up female he also automatically has longer hair and in some instances even shaved legs, armpits and/or bikini-zones or even plucked eyebrows. That always strikes me as odd because why would an alien or an Asgard god-magician or even a Potter-universe-wizard know or care about very specific gender-rules of western society? Gender-rules btw not even all women of western society adhere to. I know women who have shorter hair than most men. So why would a man with short hair, hairy legs and so on suddenly end up being female with long locks and perfectly shaven legs? Loosing a beard sure, but the rest of the hair? Gaining hair in other places instead?

For some reason that always throws me because it sounds so illogical. And yeah, I'm aware that I'm talking about sex-swapping stories, but why would for example Loki create a spell that incorporates hair-lengthening and some nice waxing of specific places? Why would he care? Would he even know that this is what a woman is expected to look like? Not to mention that would imply that Asgard women follow the same rules as women on earth. Maybe Asgardians like their women hairy and natural and that's the trend there?

Anyway, aside from it being weird, that would actually be an interesting part of the story, of someone who's genderwise still male suddenly being confronted by those very gender-specific rules that creep in during every day life and that people are usually baffled about the moment they encounter them. It might be something like: "Oh, I'm female now. Yay, no shaving. Wait? What? I have to shave even more? Damn." Or just snide comments about unshaven legs or armpits.

I should maybe clarify that I'm talking about little things, not the big stuff like "OMG, breasts! Vagina! Period!" but the gender-stuff some men (for example) don't think about or don't realize exists.

How would Tony Stark react if suddenly his cup-size seems more important to people than his IQ? Or his make-up more important than his other qualifications. Or suddenly having to deal with men treating him like he treats women (think Natasha as Natalia in Iron Man 2). He might be used to being sexualized by the media, but it's still different for a man than it is for a woman. There's the power-imbalance.

 And even if the team promises not to treat him differently, the only ones who would be able to manage that would be Clint Coulson because they are used to Natasha and were trained by her. The rest wouldn't be able to subconsciously react to *female*. Even Natasha might end up treating him differently.

Just thinking, shutting up now. And I still think sex-changes should not come with in-built makeovers.

Date: 2012-05-29 09:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/_profiterole_/
I don't read many stories like that, but I do from time to time, and I've never seen any 'magical shaving' mentioned. That's just weird!

Date: 2012-05-29 09:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] quadratur.livejournal.com
I've come across it a few times and yeah, it's just weird. Just like the suddenly much longer hair.

Date: 2012-05-29 09:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thesilverwitch.livejournal.com
I think most writers just don't even consider that? I have this theory that it's impossible for us to imagine a fully new alien race with the same kind of thought capability as humans because in the end, we'd always be giving them human related qualities or just assuming things, like would they have roads? cities? marriages? they're a completely different race in a completely different planet, so why the fuck do you think they'd have cellphones man?

And basically I think that theory sort of applies here. I don't think any writer is trying to be rude or anything by applying the Western social norm, but since it's what they're really used to, they just do it? This doesn't mean their actions are completely justified or correct, but it sort of explains them.

Date: 2012-05-29 10:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] quadratur.livejournal.com
That actually makes a lot of sense :-).

Guess being someone who's massively into SF/Fantasy and world-building and different cultures gives one a slightly different perspective. Also reading "Writing the Other".

Once in a while some (not very educated) fantasy-writer crawls out and writes a post about female characters that tend to crack me up (when I'm not frothing at the mouth or checking that yes, still female although according to that writer's list I should be male). That maybe adds too. Usually the comments on such posts are the things really worth reading. Anyway, I'm digressing :-).

Throw in being a feminist and interested in the whole gender-discussion, societal gender-roles and things like nature versus nurture and maybe I have a slightly different perspective.

I'm not even saying that some of these stories are bad. It's just this moment that throws me where I'm wondering where the long hair comes from.


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