Much more than other aspects children and gender views are intimately related to their faith and moral values. These values were formed through harsh experience on Earth and on the early days of the planet. Yet in some ways they also had influences more positive and idealistic. Further all these views have gone through change in the various historical cycles. A more significant change perhaps is the response to Galactic society, but then again perhaps not. Consequently more discussion of religion and history may be necessary this time. Hopefully the audience will not be too bored.
Dervin Moon Professor of Cultural Galactography University of Tropical Earth
A Genjikan spends the first few years of life as a very special being. So much so that they are not allowed to even touch the ground until they have spoken their first word. This first word is often relayed to a spiritual advisor to divine its deeper meaning. Further they must be dressed more extravagantly than anyone else in the family. In a special ceremony they even choose their own name . During this ceremony parents are expected to bow deeply to their "small holy one". These and other views have an intimate relationship to their belief in the other realm.
Genjikans believe in six realms one of which you lived in before birth and hopefully will return to after death. Before birth the souls bask in the love and meaning of whichever fire rules the realm it resides. However it can not completely appreciate this realm until it experiences ours. More in depth discussion of this other realm will come elsewhere, but for now what matters is that this belief makes young children seen as closer to that source of ultimate meaning and love than anyone. It also means they must be gradually adjusted to our more mundane Universe through a variety of ceremonies. This makes their life, in fact, strongly disciplined and ritualistic. Yet they have an honor and power that is almost unheard of on other worlds. Crimes against small children are punished the most severely, at one time all such crimes merited death. The utterances of small children must be recorded for posterity. Most of these have no significance, but they can affect prayers, literature, and even laws. The conflicting views of how they claim to have lived before birth can spawn new sects, but usually each sect interprets the kids words the way they wish.
Perhaps the most telling sign of this spiritual reverence of little kids comes in the robot plays. The small children characters most often are the ones to give wise speeches, have magic powers, performance intense feats of self sacrifice, or even slay monsters. This idea that little children have special powers seems to predate their beliefs and can be found in ancient Japanese and Icelandic works. In ancient Japanese sacred imagery called animei little kids could move objects with their mind, commune with spirits, or even foretell the future. In Icelandic the references can be more confused, but tales of small children in touch with magical creatures exist there too. Added to this comes their own unique view of children as creatures not entirely of our world.
In these first five to seven years children are also not separated by gender as much, but at seven they usually have the last ceremony that seals them to this life. They have reached the age of reason or alternatively the age of duty. They become assigned to their gender roles. Boys began to see less of their mothers, girls less of their fathers. For many kids this can be traumatic, so in recent years there is a tendency to lessen the separation of that age as well as the reverence of the first five to seven years. However some even from traditional homes look back on the age of duty as the best time in childhood, where they finally had normal relationships and learned of their society. During this period a new figure also enters into their life to soften the change.
For boys this figure is called Epanni. The Epanni is supposed to be the elder brother of the father, but strict population rules make few boys have such a person. So instead any elder male relative may do. The Epanni's job is to have fun with the boy in an appropriate polite way that will lead him down a correct path. Much of the rules they obey sound sensible. Epanni's are prohibited from: harming them, harming women, teaching them to devalue women's roles, teaching them to insult men, or encouraging boys to be violent to other boys. However some are more specifically about teaching them the male role in their society. The Epanni must not give the boy written fiction, or be seen to read fiction himself. He must discourage the boy from touching his ears or going barefoot. Bribery is seen as an acceptable way to do this. He must gamble with the boy and encourage the boy to gamble by making it fun for him. Boys are too young for cards, so gambling at this age tends to involve simple games. He must encourage the boy to interests seen as suitably masculine and encourage any he has on his own. He must teach the boy any recipes he knows. He must instill a respect for privacy. Finally he must have no physical contact of any kind. An Epanni who hugs his nevuri, the name for the boy's relationship to him, may lose his status with the boy. Although sometimes handshakes can be tolerated. In the past Epanni's had been allowed to teach that although women's role must be respected it is spiritually inferior, but this has lost favor and can get them expelled by some father's. Interestingly though the mother still would have no say, even if he is expelled for that. Most actual discipline and real affection also remains in the father's role.
For girls the figure is the Ematti. Somewhat similar, but Ematti's tend to be any elder female the Mother respects. No familial relationship is required or encouraged. Also the Ematti has less strict rules, especially in recent times. This can be good or bad. Ematti's can hug the girl, encourage her to be anything she wants to be, teach her cards, and tell her stories that question the system. Traditional roles also make her be the one to teach the girl foreign languages and history. However the downside can be that Ematti's can berate the girl severely, and even strike her without necessarily losing the privilege. Also some mothers complain that Ematti's usurp their role in a way Epanni's never would with father's. Since mother's have sole authority over expelling the Ematti this might not be a problem, but Ematti's can encourage such intense loyalty this becomes impossible. The fear though of abusive or malign Ematti's tends to be far greater than the reality, but does often feature in political campaigns.
This period ends when the child reaches physical maturity at 16. However they tend not to be seen as old enough to enter the adult world yet so enter maturation schools first. At these schools the separation of male and female worlds reach their greatest extent. During the age 7-16 they still see the other gender much of the day, but maturation schools are only for one gender or other. An exception to this is music school where young men and women have always been allowed to be together. Even to the point of being physically in the same buildings, or living in the same homes. Musicians are seen as needing as much contact with the opposite sex as possible so this tends to be actively encouraged. In other non-gendered jobs like farming or skiing the schools still divide by gender, although lately some such schools offer classes to both through cyber-mnemonic download.
Indeed for most everything they go to separate schools. This is because the schools are not merely places to learn job skills, or prepare for University. No their more important duty is to more strongly emphasize their adulthood roles. The Men's schools teach a more intense level of discipline than they will ever live under again. They must work 14 hours a day at proper behavior, technique, rationalism, meditation, and problem solving. Physical violence is discouraged, but the pressure can be intense. For women the system almost seems harsher. They must spend 15 hours a day at memorization, linguistics, etiquette, romance, and speaking. Instructors can be vicious to young women who misuse words, even at agriculture schools.
When this ends they go off for higher education and join the adult world. In recent years women who are good at cards can go to science or math Universities. Otherwise though they tend to be discouraged. Men are always discouraged from entering humanities programs, except when the maturation school certified their entrances to a troupe. (Troupes are roving bands of homosexual male entertainers. They have some respect, but they are technically outcasts so foreigners are given little information on them. Same goes for the female house bound "covens of scientific research")
Gender in adults
When coming to the planet the people seemed to have the seeds for their own views in place. However peculiar elements of the planet encouraged an increase in this archaism. The need to actually eat plants and animals led to the idea that other ancient values should be revived. It had been decided the genders would remain as males and females. Genetic engineering to alter human forms would be limited. Further the notion arrived that they must stay true to the intent of these things. This meant men must hunt and women gather. This idea had been largely metaphorical from the beginning, science had been seen as a hunt for truth. While understanding humanity had been seen as gathering knowledge from the past. It is easy to see how this could be reversed with the humanities seen as the hunt or science the gathering, but for whatever reason that never occurred. More or less this had been the systems start. Intense isolation combined with living under the strict rules needed to survive kept the view in place. Many felt if women learned science or men learned languages survival would somehow be threatened. This may not sound very logical, but it made sense to them. Religions also sometimes strengthened this. Some defunct sects taught that men and women went to different other realms so if they stepped out of line they would be outcasts for all eternity.
However the society had not been quite so unchanging or traditional as this may sound. Elements of the views on gender changed much over time even before external influence. Also the planet is not entirely monolithic in culture. Several different sects and islands had variants. Although the basic ideas had rarely been overthrown what they meant or how they had been applied do vary over time and place.
Women's supremacy in the humanities has at times given them complete control over the government, and legal system. Further in one of these periods research had been funded primarily by the government. Consequently this could sound almost like a matriarchy, but not quite. Men still dominated business even then so had control of where women worked and who got campaign money. Still this period, known as the Vigdian era, generally has been viewed as more positive for women even then the present. While in one period women were prohibited from working out of the home, learning to read, or using interfaces. They had been told this would encourage memory and that they should prefer being oral historians. They had implants in their brain to punish them if they questioned this or disagreed with their male elders. This period tends to be called the horror age. While in another period elderly women had the utmost respect, and had to be obeyed even by the men. Yet women on the whole had an inferior position during this early era known as "the Emattiocracy". During one long period of upheaval women had been expected to be warrior poets. Killing all who attacked their island, while writing sonnets for their husbands efforts to attack others.
Men's role has also changed. The main differences might be that often in the past men had been expected to be more athletic and combative. At one time hundreds of sports had been recognized and war had been common. For this and other reasons the two had become linked so when a more peaceful era began a millennia ago it had been linked to valuing the mind above the body, especially for men. Another important variant involves which elements among men had been seen as most suitable. At times men had been discouraged from singing, working with robot puppets, or studying psychology as that had once been called a humanity. At other times men had been expected to obsess on wealth, while other times scientific reputation mattered. Sexual mores also tended to be more variable then with women. Sometimes amassing concubines had been linked to amassing wealth. During one period religious celibacy in men had been highly regarded, more so then in women. While during the Vigdian era all celibate religious orders for men had been banned and men who remained celibate after a certain age had to register as "potential sex offenders". During the horror age young men had implants in their brains so the male elders could punish them for sexual impropriety. This could include marrying a woman their father disapproved of, or simply looking a woman in the eyes. Unlike women however they became free of this once they reached a hundred years of age.
About a thousand years ago the system formed into the pattern that roughly survives to this day. Although influence with Galactic society has caused great changes, this pattern could basically be seen as what is meant by the traditional Genjikan view on gender. In many ways a large segment of their societies still tends to be intent on its survival.
In this men are to value the mind and spirit more than the physical. They must also value reason and restraint. Conversations among men must not become too emotional lest they lead to violence. They must also not question each others competence unless they happen to be engaged in gambling or work. They must not discuss their accomplishments during social occasions. Genjikan men must not physically touch other men in anyway or look at their eyes unless they happen to be blood relation. With men they do not know well they tend to speak of things they do not actually care that much about. Early observers saw Genjikan men as vapid and cold, but in fact it had been that they felt discussing things of consequence with strangers would only lead to problems.
With women men can discuss their work. They can even emphasize their accomplishments. They can not ask about the woman's work however. They must never criticize a woman's choice of words or her accent. Women keep their eyes under shades, but they can look at the shades if they allow it. Mostly with women they are expected to discuss neutral topics like music, sports, agriculture, and religion. More private subjects like family background, personal life, health, and politics must be avoided unless the man knows the woman very well. In one instance a man had been married for three years and joked that he had not quite reached the point where he could discuss her childhood or political views.
When alone men are encouraged to meditate and listen to soft music. This is seen as necessary to keep them balanced. They also can spend time gardening or figuring out what to cook. Anything that does not induce stress or anger.
They also have many rules as to a man's person. Surprisingly many more such rules exist for men then women. Men must keep their feet covered at all times, except during intimacy. They must never touch their ears, or anyone else's ears. Until quite recently they could not touch their nose in the presence of women, but that one seems to have died out. They can grow a mustache, but a beard tends to be avoided. They must not touch this mustache, even to clean it. Although if married their wife can. Interestingly with regard to wives they should be fairly physically affectionate, especially in public. They must not move their hands too quickly while talking. They must avoid talking while eating meat, but talking while eating other things is fine.
This may make it sound as if their men live rigid unemotional lives, but nothing could be further from the truth. Much of these restrictions relate to the idea men are so emotional any little slight could make them violent or scar them for life. While any touch could make them think someone cares about them far more then they do. However some of this emotionalism finds expression. Especially at work or play.
During cards men can express the more intense moods they are believed to have. Berating failures by calling them names like eunuchs, or even slapping each other on the backs. At work, especially the sciences, men must deal with many volatile tempers. Though they work only 4 hours a day, those hours have an intensity that few worlds match. At one time it had been so intense that observers saw research centers as mad houses where the scientists seemed to all suffer from something like the ancient malady called bipolar disorder. Sometimes men even engaged in battles to the death over dismissing of a theory they had. Even these days a scientific conference is seen as something of a failure if fist fights never erupted and no one declared undying devotion to their mentor. Even outside of this the emotionalism can find expression.
Men tend to write the most emotional songs about the fires or love. Men tend to get more weepy and drunk at funerals, especially as priests can only be male. Male scientists tend to do the most grand romantic gestures for their wives, while the sky farmers have their own such lore. Most surprisingly men write the tragic tear jerking robot puppet plays. The more distanced action extravaganzas tend to be choreographed by women. In a darker vein men commit more crimes of passion and commit suicide much more. Which is linked to the idea they tend to be more emotionally unstable. Oddly that further relates to the idea they are somewhat superior as well. If they are both more emotional and more devoted to reason they can claim superiority in everything. If they are scientists they understand the fires so can claim spiritual superiority as well. If all this makes them more unbalanced that's just seen as the price of being humanity's favored gender. This line of reasoning has obviously lost favor, but a new view has strangely not come to replace it. The standard Galactic attitude being too alien.
Women are to be more serene, soothing, and people focused. The intense highs and lows of understanding the world beyond humanity tended to be closed to them. Consequently amongst themselves women can talk more freely then men could amongst themselves. Women could talk about their accomplishments, have emotionally charged political debates, work on each others hair, laugh, and so forth. An interesting related element had been the tradition of "wife telling" This allowed married women to discuss their husbands in intimate detail with any other married woman, even a complete stranger. However there had in fact been strict limits to this. Wives had been expected to keep love letters, details of his work, and childhood stories to themselves. To break that trust could be grounds for divorce. Also they had restrictions in other ways.
Women do not discuss books they read or poetry they wrote in casual conversation, because that is seen as leading to a challenge. They also do not discuss family history, childhood, or health unless they know the woman well. They do not discuss romantic relationships they had outside of marriage as those are personal. They must not speak too loudly even with other women. The most important restriction might be that they must never criticize another woman's grammar or word choice. They consider that cruel. Although the normal response to it is believed to be tears, a large percent of woman against woman violence is over grammar. Still as a whole women have more freedom amongst themselves then men.
With men the situation can be much more complicated. Women must speak in a higher than normal voice in the presence of men. The more honored the men the higher the voice. A popular joke states that when meeting the head chair of Quantum Cosmology a lowly farm woman's voice became so high only bats could hear it. They must not ask him yes or no questions. They must not discuss their husband or family except to say if they have one. They must not talk while eating anything. They must never breathe through their mouth in a man's presence. They must wear clothing above the waste in a man's presence. They must not cry, unless he insulted her. If arguments arise between the men they must try to act as peacemaker. They must not comment on the man's recipes unless he asks. Unless the man is a husband or lover they must not: cross their legs, look at his feet or touch his ears, touch their own lips, recite poetry, or discuss their own work. They must never diminish the man or make him look foolish.
When alone it did not matter much what women did. However there had been some sense that they should use that time to study, or write. The growing place of women has made that tradition more popular, though increasingly women can use that time to study formerly masculine things like science or theology.
When it came to the woman's person she had been expected to keep her eyes under shades and always where in least a kaku. A kaku being something like a loincloth. However in the female only baths they only had to wear shades. These shades act as an impressive interface that keeps women constantly connected. They also hide the eyes which are only to be seen by men during intimacy. Surprisingly I discovered their eyes have a genuine unique quality. Apparently around puberty the sclera gain an intense bioluminescence and pulsate in an unusual pattern. This had been surprising because of their hostility to human genetic engineering, but this engineering seems to be far more advanced than anyone had expected.
At work women tend to be more "professional" then men. On most worlds debates about former genocides would be more emotional than debates on pulsars, but they feel different. Humans are a mere speck, so discussions on literature or history deserve a more restrained discussion. In part though this is based on the realization they could get more emotional if allowed. Thus with women in charge of them the law, literature, and history will be peacefully discussed. Once understood it had been realized games are taken much more seriously with women. The speeches, recitations, and tests can be extremely stressful. There is not the joking, wagering, or insulting that you find with men. Though there is a sense of triumph or failure when the competition ends.
More important to women tends to be a much greater urge to break these rules. These rules had largely been based on the notion women had been inferior. Their lives should be devoted to understanding people, but their faith and culture taught people had been "a mere speck in the Universe" They could not experience the highs or lows of men, or understand anything greater than themselves. Nowadays women tend to be more intense in finding new ways or challenging old ones. Women want respect in male roles like science or gambling. Though few have yet challenged the male priesthood, they want to have some role in the religious life. Unlike most all male clergies their religions tend to lack any female religious position. The only major native religion to be an exception are the Okuri. They have a sacred order of women to teach and do charity that is seen as brides of the fires. However even this group has sometimes derisively been called "The Fire Maidens from Outer Space" even by Okuri men themselves. The origin or derisiveness of the term remains obscure. Other celibate religious women have never had more than unofficial sanction even in times when they had been respected. Women who are not celibate have no role in any religion even though the male priesthood is not celibate.
Another important element in this are "The Shockers" They tend to be a group of women who go around and do culturally shocking things. Common examples are women going up to strange men and speaking in a husky voice, pinching their ears, or reading them a poem. With the exception of the first all these are traditionally viewed as foreplay, but if the man responds in that way they scream "Shocked you" and ran away. A more aggressive, and up front, method is to ask men complicated math problems. If they can not answer them the shocker than answers herself, humiliating him. Or recite a science lecture in a foreign language. As men are not supposed to learn other languages it also humiliates them. With women they go up to them and correct their grammar, but this tends to be less successful. Genjikan women have more leeway to show annoyance with this and therefore do not put up with it. However more popular are their efforts to teach women recipes or give boys fiction. Though traditionally both of these also are taboo, the changing of the society makes them acceptable. Least popular are the so called terrorist shockers. They take off women's shades, men's feet covering, and make public private information on people's health or family. All these things tend to be viewed as extreme violations of people's privacy or decency and such women can be arrested.
As is obvious many views on the planet have been in flux. Especially with regard to the female role. Still by understanding the traditions you can best understand the change and why some changes remain unacceptable. Solutions which would seem obvious may not seem so simple to them. For them this can be awkward but for those in Genjikan studies it has indeed been an intriguing time.
The other realm and it's meaning by Father Tenreykja Non-kyo Temple Press
What Human children live like by The Transcendental Entity of Thought published by Transcendent Orbital Resources
Sacred Animation: Ways of Human worship by the Manatee Collective of Dervin 5
Children of honor by Archon Bell publisher Galactic Library
When we were men, when we were women by Gestalt 111A1015 Galactic Federation Press
Little Pretty Ones rules of Interstellar Etiquette by Ahmad The Bloody Fist of Sigma Alpha Beta Epsilon Regina
Two gender worlds by the Botanical Mind of Regus 6
You call that feminist terrorism? by The Society for Assassinating the Male Propagandist Oppressors or SAMPO
Male clergies by The Eternal Trans-Human Entity Revived published by Mars University Press
God's Wife and equivalent religious titles by Brother Andri Ragnars published by the Hidden Library
Iceland's Children by President Komar Assan of the Galactic Federation
Copyright © 2002 by Bewildering Stories.