“Everybody was asking, ‘What is it to be a man? What is it to be a woman? It’s a hard question, so in The Left Hand of Darkness I eliminated gender to find out what would be left.”
–Ursula K. Le Guin
This quote was on the wall of the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle. Admission is tied to admission to the Experience Music Project, and I was determined to get my $15 worth. It was an interesting experience, walking into that museum of science fiction memorabilia. I was a little out of my element, but I was able to appreciate the E.T. model and the Star Trek captain’s chair, if not the intricate details of costumes and models from shows I’ve never heard of.
Le Guin is a science fiction writer and has been for many years. She lives in Portland, OR, which makes her one of our own. I had never heard of this book before, but in doing some research, Le Guin writes socially conscious science fiction, often examining view of ethnicity and gender through her characters and alien races.
I love this quote because it’s an example of someone using writing, story, to work out an issue or problem in real life. Because there was so much confusion and tumult over the concept of gender, she decided to do away with gender and explore what was leftover, doing it through the guise of fiction. You can get away with a lot through fiction.
I’ve always used writing to work through concepts that are floating through my mind and heart. I think it’s much more socially acceptable than other methods, perhaps less self-destructive and more beneficial for the world, especially if you come up with some kind of conclusion.