Sexualized Saturdays: Non-Human Characters Outside the Gender Binary

Lal: “I am gender neuter. Inadequate.”
Data: “That is why you must choose a gender, Lal, to complete your appearance.”

the-offspringOh, Star Trek, you are one of those shows that consistently disappoints me. This conversation from Star Trek: The Next Generation perfectly illustrates how our society tends to view gender in a strict gender binary. In the episode “The Offspring”, the robot Data creates his own android progeny named Lal. He decides to create Lal gender neutral, so that Lal can choose what gender to be. It seemed like a great idea, but it quickly turned problematic when Lal declared gender neutrality “inadequate” before promptly choosing a female gender. For people who don’t fit the gender binary, this statement is wildly offensive. The message seems to be if you aren’t male or female then you are… inadequate. How fucked up is that?!

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Sexualized Saturdays: Xavin

Xavin has quite possibly become one of my favorite characters ever. She appears in the Runaway comics, as the character Karolina’s betrothed. As a Super-Skrull in training—well, as a Skrull—she can shapeshift. During her initial appearance when she approaches Karolina to tell her about the arranged marriage, Xavin first takes the form of a human male, thinking that will be appeasing to Karolina; however, after Karolina hesitantly admits that “[she] like[s] girls”—much to the shock of her friends—Xavin thinks nothing of transforming into a young woman.

Xavin completes this transformation while stating:

“Karolina, Skrulls are shapeshifters. For us, changing our gender is no different than changing hair color.”

Xavin’s character has quite understandably raised some very significant questions when it comes to gender identity, and Xavin has a habit of switching between male and female forms depending on what situation she finds herself in. Notably, in Karolina’s presence, unless needed otherwise, she does choose to be a woman.

Not being nearly as knowledgeable about the Skrulls as Lady Geek Girl, I found myself asking her what I consider to be a very important question: do the Skrulls have to shift into something that has a gender, or can they be genderless?

She could not answer this, because the Marvel Universe doesn’t really explain how their shape-shifting abilities work. Furthermore, in a society where changing gender “is no different than changing hair color,” I could only wonder how the Skrulls would view gender and sexuality. One of the ways this issue was presented to me was in these questions:

If you could change your gender at will, lived most of your days as a woman, and then married a man, how would you feel if your husband turned around one day and proclaimed that he was gay? Would you be willing to shift into a man in order to appease your husband? Would changing after living as a woman for so long bother you?

I can only assume that individual Skrulls favor being either male or female, since they always seem to have a gender at any given time. Maybe some of them do prefer being male, while others prefer being female, but I would hazard a guess that that would be for only aesthetic purposes. In a society where gender is so fluid, I find it hard to believe that they would view it the same way as we do, which is one of the reasons why I know Lady Geek Girl disagrees that the volume Dead End Kids tries to clarify that the real Xavin is a woman, and to be honest, I find myself disagreeing with Dead End Kids right along with her.

I should also clarify that the only reason I refer to Xavin as female is because I don’t want to refer to her as an “it.” I have no problems calling her a man, but I feel that neither gender truly fits her character. Xavin is only a she in my head some of the time. She is only a she in this article all of the time because that makes this less confusing. But I digress.

Whenever Xavin feels angry, she tends to revert back to her true form. In Dead End Kids, she and Karolina end up in a fight, and Xavin morphs back into being a woman. She quotes:

“I simply wasn’t concentrating… maintaining a false shape does take a measure of effort.”

To this, Molly exclaims:

“Dumbo, you girled out! That makes this the real you, right?”

And Xavin responds as Karolina looks on happily, argument completely forgotten:

“I didn’t realize that was in doubt.”

She and Karolina then proceed to kiss.

I can only reiterate that Xavin should not have the same views on gender as we do. When she first arrives, she is very much male and refers to herself as someone’s son, but this is because she is in a male form, which for a shapeshifter is a false form. The same goes with being female. Does she have to be one or the other? I don’t know, but regardless, she probably wouldn’t have turned into this upon losing her concentration:

She probably would have become this: In many regards, the Skrull are similar to the angels from Supernatural when it comes to gender and sexuality, both in how they should be and in how they are presented. Gender should have no meaning to the Skrull, because given their species, they should all be gender fluid, and because of that, all their sexualities should have very little to do with gender.

Maybe it’s possible that there are Skrull out there who are only attracted to male or female forms and not both, but for a shapeshifting race, something like this may only pertain to sex. Their partners are not always going to remain the gender they like, because that would be denying them a natural ability. Even Xavin refuses to remain a woman at all times, despite Karolina’s dislike of her male form. How the Skrull look means nothing to them on a day to day basis, and what gender they need to be for intercourse probably doesn’t faze them too much.

At one point, Xavin turns into Karolina’s friend Nico, because Xavin knows that Nico is appealing to Karolina. All this tells me is that Skrulls are more or less indifferent to physical aspects. And while I overall like Xavin’s character and the questions she and her race have raised about gender and gender identity, like the angels of Supernatural, I wish they were written less from our perspective of gender and gender identity.

Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon)

Those of us here at LGG&F worked tirelessly to compile and vote on the top 10 canon and top 10 fanon pairings in Geekdom. You have no idea how hard it was to come to a consensus on what was actually canon or not!

THE CANON LIST:

1. Princess Leia/Han Solo

“I happen to like nice men.” – Leia

“I’m a nice man.” – Han Solo

“No, you’re not.” – Leia

The space pirate and the princess, Han helps Luke rescue Leia from the clutches of the evil empire and the rest, as they say, is history. If you like couples that start off hating each other, then this is the couple for you! Han and Leia participate in many a witty jab at the others expense. Meanwhile, the sexual tension between the two is so thick even Chewbacca notices it. Sure, there was a brief and confusing time when it seemed that maybe Luke and Leia where going to get together—*shudders*—but real Star Wars fans and a blood test quickly cleared that up. Thanks, George Lucas, for giving us this great couple!

2. Doctor/Rose

“How long are you going to stay with me” – The Doctor

“Forever.” – Rose

Okay, so Doctor/Rose. The Doctor is a traveler through time and space and the last of his species. Rose is a young shopgirl from London whom he meets and with whom he travels for two seasons (all of the Ninth Doctor and the first season of Ten). They have adventures and fight everything from ghosts to Satan. The Doctor helps Rose realize her value outside of being a shopgirl while they learn new things. Rose helps the Doctor move past his depression in being the last Time Lord alive after the Time War. They are separated into parallel universes while saving the Earth, but later reunited. The Doctor at one point is separated into a Time Lord and human self, and the human self chooses to return to the parallel universe with Rose because he can commit to her in a way the Time Lord Doctor cannot.

The Doctor and Rose share this intense love of discovering new things even when they’re potentially dangerous. They sort of have an unspoken understanding that they love each other (it’s not verbalized until pretty much the last time you see Rose). Their relationship involves a lot of hugs and lust and shared amused looks/eyesex, etc, etc.

3. Willow/Tara

“I am, you know.” – Tara

“What?” – Willow

“Yours.” – Tara

Both witches Willow and Tara meet at college in a Wicca group where they discover they are the only two real witches. After several altercations with monsters, Willow and Tara begin to grow closer, leading Willow to question her previously assumed heterosexuality. Eventually, Willow follows her heart to Tara, and since then the two have been one of TV’s best same sex couples.

4. Xavin/Karolina Dean

“This is my beloved’s home, and now it is mine. I will die for it. Will you?” – Xavin

Karolina Dean is an alien that absorbs solar energy into her body and can shoot it back out at you just as fast. She is an openly lesbian character in the Marvel team known as the Runaways. Xavin is a shape-shifting gender-fluid skrull prince/princess who is engaged to Karolina. Their relationship starts off rocky. First, with the two teenagers coming to terms with their marriage, and then with Karolina struggling over the fact that Xavin is not always a woman who she is attracted two. Despite this adversity and the constant bad guys trying to kill them, the two manage to find an enduring love for the ages.

5. Usagi/Mamoru:

“Mamoru, please say it once more.” – Usagi

“Again? But I’ve said it fifty times!” – Mamoru

“Please? One more time?” – Usagi

“Okay, for the last time. Marry me, Usagi.” – Mamoru

Whether we’re talking about Serenity/Endymion, Sailor Moon/Tuxedo Mask, or even Serena/Darien, these two lives are always linked. In the manga, anime, musicals, and live-action series, their relationship varies in its depiction but their devotion to each other can’t be denied. I’d like to talk primarily about their relationship in the live-action series, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, because this incarnation of the story has the most unique depiction of their relationship.

Unlike in the anime, the two develop feelings for each other as Usagi and Mamoru first, rather than realizing they were lovers in the past and beginning a relationship from there. The affection they have for each other is so strong that Usagi’s crush on Tuxedo Mask is actually eclipsed by her feelings for Mamoru after a lot of distress on her part as she sorts out her feelings. When the pair learn of their past in this series, unlike every other incarnation, it nearly destroys their relationship, rather than solidifying it. They learn that their affair was essentially the downfall of both their kingdoms in their past lives and at first try to stay away from each other to avoid repeating the tragedy. They realize, of course, that they can’t simply stop wanting each other and decide that they will not be ruled by their past, that they choose to love one another now, in the present, despite the probability that they are doomed to bring about ruin by doing so. It is this choice that I think strengthens the Usagi/Mamoru relationship as opposed to the “Miracle Romance” of the other incarnations of the story. This is not to say that I don’t think their relationship in the manga/anime/musicals is any less true or beautiful, just that the implications of fate working against them, as opposed to, in their favor makes their choice to be together that much more impressive in PGSM.

6. Westley/Buttercup

“As you wish.” – Wesley

One of the greatest love stories you will ever read anywhere and also one of the funniest. Westley starts out as a poor farm boy working for Buttercup. She mistreats him horribly, but soon she falls just as madly in love with him as he is with her. When Buttercup thinks Westley is killed, she abandons hope and nearly marries an evil prince, but Westley soon returns, because, well, “death cannot stop true love; it can only delay it for a while.” Buttercup and Westley also share one of the greatest kisses in all of history. If you don’t like these two, then you might just have no heart.

7. Jane Eyre/Edward Rochester

“I know no weariness of my Edward’s society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do of the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together. To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude, as gay as in company. We talk, I believe, all day long: to talk to each other is but a more animated and an audible thinking. All my confidence is bestowed on him, all his confidence is devoted to me; we are precisely suited in character—perfect concord is the result.” – Jane Eyre

Jane and Edward are not the typical lovers. They are twenty years different in age; she is poor, obscure, and little, while he is rich, well known, not handsome (though does posses a fine pair of dark eyes), and while athletic in build, is not particularly tall. They are not beautiful in body, but they are in mind. Jane is plain, but she has a sprightly and empathetic disposition, coupled with a strong sense of justice and a surprisingly quick temper. Rochester is dark and brooding—*swoon*—with a sarcastic sense of humor, but he is passionate, especially when it comes to Jane (Bow chicka bow wow). Their love is not instant; it grows through the time they spend together and the trials they are put through. Though they have societal differences, it is their spirits, their mutual affection, and compatibility that make them such an amusing, beautiful, and ultimately romantic couple.

8. Apollo/Midnighter

“God, I just love you to bits sometime.” – Midnighter

What to say about Apollo and Midnighter? They where originally introduce in Stormwatch, which was in a universe outside of the normal DC universe. It has often been pointed out that these two characters are simply the gay version of Batman and Superman, and while they do share many similarities. They are also extremely badass superheroes willing to kill for those they love. The two are subtle about their relationship in the beginning, but soon share their relationship with their teammates. They eventually get married and adopt a little girl. Word to the wise though, super villains, if you mess with this family you may end up without a head… or worse.

9. Arwen/Aragorn

“I choose a mortal life.” – Arwen

“You cannot give this to me.” – Aragorn

“It is mine to give to whom I will. Like my heart.” – Arwen

A timeless love that crossed cultural divides and racism. Arwen gives up her immortality to live a short life as a mortal with Aragorn, despite her father’s disapproval and the concerns of her people. There is actually not much said about Aragorn and Arwen in the actual series, though there is plenty in the book’s massive appendix, as well as in the movies. Arwen’s and Aragorn’s love is pure and sweet, the kind of a noble knight for his faithful lady. It’s a classic that we love.

10. Joker/Harley

“Aw, c’mon, Puddin’. Don’tcha wanna rev up your Harley? VROOOM VROOM!” – Harley Quinn

What’s a romance list without a little mad love? A bad one, that’s what! Harley and the Joker don’t have a stable relationship, not by any means, but if you ask fans about comic book romances, they will more likely than not mention Harley and her Puddin’. Let’s be serious: their love is deranged, sick, twisted, and maybe a little bit sweet. The Joker himself worries that he might care too much about Harley in some comics. Unfortunately, that doesn’t bring about a change in Joker; it just makes him want to kill poor Harley! Well, Harley can change him right… no, probably not.

THE FANON LIST:

Kida/Anri/Mikado

Kida, Anri, and Mikado all are high school students that secretly run different gangs in the city. Yep, anime… go figure? Despite running rival gangs, the three maintain a friendship and eventually work together. Their love is epic and there is just too much of it for one person. So maybe Kida had some other girlfriend—screw her! She wasn’t nearly as cool as Anri and Mikado! Congrats to our list’s only OT3.

Dean/Castiel

Move over, Wincest fans! Profound bond coming through! Only two pairings were almost unanimously voted for on this list, and Dean and Castiel were one of them. An angel and his hunter, the eye sex alone may be enough to point out how totally in love they are. Castiel fell from heaven and died for Dean twice. Castiel is the first person Dean has ever trusted that wasn’t family (Bobby doesn’t count; he was basically their dad). Dean, however… insists that he’s straight… yep. But the fans know Dean is lying. And to prove it, the fans dominate every online couples contest. Castiel and Dean won best couple in a poll done by Spoiler TV, and are now going head to head with Faberry and Klaine (both from Glee). Castiel and Dean, their love is heavenly!

Snape/Lily

Another paring almost unanimously voted for by our writers. Snape always loved Lily. Always. Fans of the Harry Potter series adore Snape so much that his happiness wins out over the birth of Harry Potter. A slew of fanfics were written describing the beautiful love between Lily and Snape. After all, JKR admits that James was Lily’s second choice… because you know, Snape called her a mudblood, but if he hadn’t done that she totally would have married him, because she loved him way more than James. Snape and Lily, in the minds of fans, they will always be together.

Batman/Superman

They’re best friends, best buds, best pals! They are as close as two men can be… Let’s be honest, Batman and Superman are a little into each other. There is a reason Apollo and Midnighter were created, and that reason is that fans saw the sexual tension in droves. The relationship between Batman and Superman rivals that of even the most avid Batman/Robin fans. Their love is chaotic and often filled with problems, mostly because of Batman’s abandonment issues, but despite all this fans are convinced it’s Batman and Superman forever.

Sam/Frodo

There are several Tolkien scholars that would smack me over the head right now if they new this couple made the list. Sam and Frodo are war buddies… brothers… okay, fine, lovers trying desperately to save Middle Earth despite only having each other, and I guess Gollum, to rely on. So this may be one of the most contested pairing on this list. Some people love them; some people hate them. But hey, if they found some happiness with each other during these troubling times, who are we to judge?

Kirk/Spock

A fandom that boldly went where no fandom had gone before! Kirk and Spock hold the honor and distinction of being the original slash pairing. You don’t want to mess with Kirk/Spock shippers. Like all things that involve Star Trek, Kirk and Spock are a pairing ardently defended and upheld by the fans. And who could blame them? Both characters are bachelors for life and seem to only care about each other and a ship. Okay, that may be an over simplification, but you see my point. When Spock is going through the Vulcan mating cycle of Pon Farr, it takes rolling around in the dirt with Kirk to help him find release. Ladies and gentleman, the original slash pairing!

Jason/Kimberly

They’re the ship you shipped before you knew what shipping was. Well, maybe that’s only true for me, but whatever. Throughout the first three seasons of Power Rangers (IIRC—Jason left sometime in the third season, but I may be mistaken) and especially in the episodes prior to Tommy’s arrival, there were strong hints that Jason Scott and Kimberly Hart were romantically interested in each other, or at the very least shared a closer bond with each other than they did with the other Rangers. From the beginning of the show, when the group was in danger these two always seemed to seek each other out in the chaos, for protection, for assurance that the other was safe, for shared strength. Whatever the reason, they almost invariably grabbed or at least looked to each other in moments of peril. Classroom scenes and schemes which involved splitting up often shows Kimberly and Jason together, and even when Tommy and Kimberly were dating, for the time Jason remained on the show there was still a closeness he and Kimberly shared. Jason/Kimberly shippers got the biggest gift of all in the form of Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie which, as far as I’m concerned, made the couple canon.

France/England

The characters in Hetalia are anthropomorphized countries, so France/England is based partially on the diplomatic history between France and England, like they reimagine a proposed treaty between the countries as a marriage proposal, etc. England is portrayed as a stuffy, superstitious, sort of uncool guy, whereas France is a flamboyant, womanizing/… manizing, wine- and food-loving layabout who solves his problems with love.

Light/L

Ah, what can be said about L and Light? Their relationship certainly isn’t healthy. Much like Harley and Joker, there is a lot of abuse and manipulation happening here. Unlike our two favorite clowns, however, there is a mutual respect and understanding. There is also the kink factor. L handcuffs himself to Light in order to ensure he is definitely not Kira. Boy, did that spawn some porny fanfiction. And show of hands who thought they were going to make out in the rain in that last episode? Yes, I said last episode! Are there episodes after L? No, there are not, but there is always fanfiction.

Harry/Draco

Harry stalked Draco all through book six of the Harry Potter series then saved him from fiery death in book seven. Draco loves to pester Harry all the time, but we know he really just wants Harry’s attention. This couple is probably one of the most intense love/hate relationships on this list, but as every fanfic everywhere has said, there is a fine line between love and hate. Harry and Draco prove that more than anyone. So what if both Draco and Harry got married and had kids with weird names? That’s actually an alternate universe, thank you very much. We all know that Harry married Draco after the events of Deathly Hallows, that’s just fact.