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In my world, I created a race that doens't reproduce sexually. They have offspring through the combination of their blood, just blood, from a wound, and a special natural place that must be found in this world, in which the new life would gestate in a cocoon-like structure. Just one individual is needed for this, as well as the mentioned place. I thought of this because I wanted to have a genderless race, althought I'm not sure if that's the correct term. I wanted them to be equal in terms of role in the reproduction process, I didn't want to make one gender to be at a disadvantage because of reproduction, and also to make the process easier, at least physically.

With this said, I stil want them to have sexual relationships, their purpose would simply be that of pleasure, or creating a bond between two or more individuals so they can raise children easily if there are any, or so they want to protect each other, as they are immortal to the passage of time, but they can be killed by wounds, and having a child is something not very common and difficult to do, so this way they would better preserve the current population.

Reasons apart, I don't know how to adress or explain this when I'm writing. I've had a similar problem when using pronouns, as there are no males or females. Is a race that can have sex genderless? Can this even be called sex? Could they be seen as a mono-gender race? I seem to be pretty good at confusing myself. Any thoughts on this?

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    $\begingroup$ As far as writing genders, I recommend taking that and moving it to Writers.SE. That has nothing to do with the actual world, and everything to do with how you write about them to convey things to a reader. Offhand, I can think of probably a half dozen different approaches, each of which conveys something different. Writers.SE is the right place for that part of the question. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Dec 10 '18 at 23:20
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    $\begingroup$ Some languages have grammatical genders (or, in general, nominal classes, when more than three), and in some of those languages pronouns have forms for each of those grammatical genders. Other languages don't. In principle, pronouns should have no lexical meaning, and they should not convey information about real-world referents. English is unusual, in that it has almost completely lost grammatical gender, yet it preserves three different forms of 3rd person singular personal pronouns. Such a situation is linguistically unstable; expect the he/she/it 3-way split to be simplified. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Dec 11 '18 at 0:18
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    $\begingroup$ I want to point out that there plenty of reasons why a language could use different pronouns other than gender. For example, the pronouns could indicate age or social status. $\endgroup$ – Theraot Dec 11 '18 at 8:21
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    $\begingroup$ It certainly shows how small people's minds are that they cannot conceive of shared physical pleasure that isn't garnered through sexual intercourse, even when confronted with an asexual species.. $\endgroup$ – Giu Piete Dec 12 '18 at 9:40
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site. Your people cannot have sex since they are asexual. $\endgroup$ – SilverCookies Dec 12 '18 at 12:15

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Yes, they could certainly have sex.

Homosexual men and homosexual women manage it!

The main question is basically they would not evolve sexual organs, but the enjoyment access of these parts is just a LOT of nerve endings hooked up to the reward (pleasure) centers in the brain.

Presumably, your people do still have reward centers in their brain, and still have feel good emotions for pleasure, love, etc. It is entirely possible they also evolve something akin to sexual organs with extreme pleasure to promote (as a survival strategy) bonding, love, commitment and partnership. Which is much of the reason we evolved both these emotions and the pleasure of sex. Note that not all animals share sexual pleasure; for example many fish lay eggs and males fertilize them after the fact. We evolved this pleasure mechanism to increase the chances of us having sex that led to reproduction; but equally evolution could evolve an equivalent sexual pleasure center in your species to increase the chances of them bonding to raise children and increase their own survival rate by committed partnership.

Such a sexual organ would not be linked to intercourse, per se, it would be stimulated by other means, but could be just as pleasurable, and orgasms could also be involved.

For example (and being intentionally clinical) lesbians can bring each other to orgasm, orally or digitally, without any vaginal penetration at all. The necessary organs are exposed. Your race may have developed similar organs, and by culture this organ is kept private and only exercised in intimate committed relationships (and like us, maybe just for fun outside of such relationships). But, like lesbians, neither partner need be dominant over the other. Besides that, they can kiss, hold hands, lust after beautiful bodies, fall in love, etc.

Added: Evolutionary Clarifications

In response to comments; "why would they want to have sex?"

I promise this tour of real life will help answer this question; and I hope it improves my answer for the more technically oriented.

Pleasurable sex, pairing love, familial and parental love all evolved, they did not spring forth with life. Many dinosaurs (Paleontologists have concluded) did not mother their eggs. Like sea turtles, they laid them and left, when they hatched the hatchlings are on their own with an instinct to reach the relative safety of the sea, on their own.

The instincts to nest evolved later in dinosaurs, it improved the survival rate of the hatchlings. The same for the other mothering instincts, hunting for and feeding the young, and protecting them from predators. All of these are a greater investment for longer-lived animals, and are not driven by logic in early animals but emotions. Collectively, we could call these "motherly love" and attachment.

Now in a two-gender species, evolution takes a long time for the males to feel this same kind of attachment; but in a single-gender species, all individuals are born with the same instincts: The genetic "invention" (or occurrence) of this behavior would be passed on instantly, and by whatever survival advantages this conferred (we know it confers some) the genetic basis will spread through the population and drive out the alternative within a few dozen generations.

We can expect a similar effect if this parental love for offspring is transferable to non-family: We see at least this IRL for children now, men and women do not have to be the biological parents of a child to love a child, or children. Men have risked their lives to save children in danger they have never seen before; and said afterward they do not remember even making a decision to do that: It was instinct.

Since pairing or partnering is also an evolutionary advantage, we can imagine this parental love being modified into pairing love; mutual care for a partner. Two is actually the sweet spot; there is a significant advantages conferred by two people working together, that does not increase greatly by making it three or more. It increases, but not as dramatically as the jump from one caregiver to two. e.g. The dramatic difference is one can protect the children while the other hunts and gathers food, or one can keep watch while the other sleeps, or if one is sick the other can handle the load. No big "game changers" like this occur by adding one more to the mix.

As for pleasure centers, ours are located near and in the excretory organs; presumably this species also has organs to eliminate solid and liquid waste. I am not a biologist but I think it is clear the excretory organs evolved first and when pleasure centers evolved, they co-located there; perhaps the necessary nerve pathways are close by so this is the most likely place to evolve a dense bundle of nerves for pleasurable stimulation. There is some little pleasure in relieving one's self, and evolution is littered with this kind of re-purposing, doubling, and opportunism. Does it make sense to evolve a pleasure center that has no other purpose? Many biologists think the clitoris is exactly that, it serves no other biological purpose and is not necessary for reproduction. In fact as an aside, the external clitoris is not even very well placed for stimulation by vaginal intercourse. So yes, evolution might do this.

I will also note that evolutionarily speaking, the more intelligent a species becomes, the longer the "childhood" phase of development. Primitive brains run on instinct alone, big brained animals (like us, like elephants and dolphins) are not born fully brained, their brains develop over years and require learning and teaching and physical care while that is happening. And this can plausibly require even more commitment from a pair of parents; particularly if the species evolved in a more dangerous environment (predators, poisonous plants, animals, insects, killer weather, etc), so the cooperative-pair aspect, say of two parents raising two children each, is advanced.

Thus as your species evolves and grows in intelligence, childhood grows longer, from months (when it was primitive) to many years, and this puts pressure on the pair to stay together. Evolution solves this for them the same way it solved it for humans; with love and pleasure centers they can mutually stimulate, so oxytocin binds the pair together, and they seek to pleasure each other. That sets up the evolutionary feedback loop needed to develop some physical bundle of nerves connected to their brain's reward centers, likely co-located near the excretory organs (since evolution seems to prefer that real estate), similar to a clitoris. So that when stimulated it increases the flood of brain chemicals that create intense pleasure and feelings of love. It is an emotional bonding organ evolved to keep couples together longer, and increase the chances of their offspring's survival to adulthood.

Just like in humans! We don't need love to get pregnant or father a child, or enjoy the sensations of sex. But love does has a biological basis that goes beyond lust. So why did it evolve? It evolved to keep couples together until their children were independent. That isn't 100% successful, but like all evolutionary elements it doesn't have to be, it just needs to increase the odds of success, and it does that much.

Pair-bonding for your species can do the same. But like us, the bond likely has a physical (neurochemical) basis and the bond is reinforced by regular rewards, and this must operate evolutionarily early, before there is much intellect or cognition, while the ancestral species is driven by instinct, emotion and sensation. This is why the bond must be physical with rewarding sensations involved, and the more rewarding those sensations, the stronger the emotional bond.

P.S. I should also add, that if the species is intelligent, then despite the external womb (or "cocoon") used for child development; both instinct and intelligence would evolve to protect this cocoon from predators (making pair bonding even more important; so the cocoon isn't left unguarded in order to search for food). I'd even expect primitive animals using this approach to build a structure around the cocoon to protect it. Birds don't build a nest to keep their eggs high up in a tree for nuthin'! Upon "birth" of the child I'd expect adoption, protection, feeding and education out of parental love.

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Yes, asexual and agender beings can have sex.

Sex has a few functions:

  1. Reproduction
  2. Pleasure
  3. Social bonding

Evolution has generally resulted in sex being a pleasurable and instinctual act, so the species reproduce. It's likely that the reproductive act for your beings would be similarly instinctual, and similarly enjoyable, in order to encourage them to reproduce.

This also means that 'sex' for these beings would likely mimic their usual reproductive behavior, similarly to how humans often ahem mimic reproductive sex for recreational purposes, using body parts and objects that induce the pleasurable sensations without the accompanying reproduction itself.

If this bloodletting is a pleasurable reproductive experience, it also implies that their version of 'sex' would likely be a bit...messy, and unusual compared to what we experience. It may also only be possible when they go into 'heat' and/or in the proximity of this special nesting location.

Defining Sex:

Sex can be categorized (poorly) by biological characteristics. Contrary to popular belief, there isn't actually a good, singular, way to determine sex. There are roughly nine different criteria that are commonly used:

External genital appearance, internal reproductive organs, structure of the gonads, endocrinologic sex, genetic sex, nuclear sex, chromosomal sex, psychological sex, social sex...

and importantly, these nine ways of measuring sex often disagree with one another. Many people have heard of intersexed folks. These are individuals who, among other things, may not have the typical XX and XY chromosomes. When discussing the non-binary nature of sex, these people are often ignored as rare edge-cases. However, it's important to remember that for many, many, many more people, the nine different measurements of sex do not align. For example, on of my exes is a perfectly normative young woman...who found out one day, that her endocrinological sex is not female. Another example is this person, who's cells are actually a patchwork of 'male' and 'female' despite (presumably) 8 of her 9 sex measurements agreeing the she is sexually female:

A 46-year-old pregnant woman had visited his clinic at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia to hear the results of an amniocentesis test to screen her baby's chromosomes for abnormalities. The baby was fine — but follow-up tests had revealed something astonishing about the mother. Her body was built of cells from two individuals, probably from twin embryos that had merged in her own mother's womb. And there was more. One set of cells carried two X chromosomes, the complement that typically makes a person female; the other had an X and a Y. Halfway through her fifth decade and pregnant with her third child, the woman learned for the first time that a large part of her body was chromosomally male.

So what 'sex' your beings are can actually get quite complicated, given that sex is not a clear binary...more like a hazy cloud that people jam haphazardly into two boxes. Given the above, your beings will neither be male, female, or asexual. They will have a sex unique to their species and method of reproduction.

Their gender is an entirely different issue.

Gender is a cluster of social behaviors and traits. Most people are assigned a gender at birth, and adopt either 'masculine' or 'feminine' behaviors. Some folks sit between these two choices, and others have set of traits that are non-binary. Gender differs from other social groupings in that it is often tied to the role in reproduction. This isn't to say that its a clear distinction, at all, but when we dig down to it, what keeps 'punk' or 'jock' from being genders is not that they don't have different ways of interacting with others, or different styles of dress, or courtship rituals, it's that other human social groups have no interaction with reproduction. So, this means that your beings might have gender.

If they do have gender, their genders may be related to the specific roles they play in childrearing and reproduction. Do some of them take care of the cocoons? Do others serve as mentors for newly hatched people? Do others have a ceremonial or administrative role in determining who's blood is allowed to reproduce, or in the bloodletting itself?

Those may be the genders of this society.

So, in summation:

They would probably have bloody, messy, very ritualized sex. They may or may not have gender depending on what division of labor or subculture exists around their reproduction.

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    $\begingroup$ Wow, the only answer with actual sources, yet it got downvoted... $\endgroup$ – user58247 Dec 12 '18 at 17:58
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    $\begingroup$ @deimos 6 downvotes to be precise, the most I've ever gotten on an answer. Exhibit A as to what's wrong with WB.SE $\endgroup$ – user49466 Dec 12 '18 at 20:15
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The evolution of sexual reproduction describes how sexually reproducing animals, plants, fungi and protists could have evolved from a common ancestor that was a single celled eukaryotic species.(1) (2) There are a few species which have secondarily lost the ability to reproduce sexually, such as Bdelloidea, and some plants and animals that routinely reproduce asexually (by apomixis and parthenogenesis) without entirely losing sex. The evolution of sex contains two related, yet distinct, themes: its origin and its maintenance. (wikipedia)(Oxford Academic)(Tree of life)

You can have sexual reproduction without males or females

A sexually reproducing organism only passes on ~50% of its own genetic material to each L2 offspring. This is a consequence of the fact that gametes from sexually reproducing species are haploid. Again however, this is not applicable to all sexual organisms. There are numerous species which are sexual but do not have a genetic-loss problem because they do not produce males or females. (wikipedia)

Asexual creatures can still have sex

The concept of sex includes two fundamental phenomena: the sexual process (fusion of genetic information of two individuals) and sexual differentiation (separation of this information into two parts). Depending on the presence or absence of these phenomena, the existing ways of reproduction can be divided into asexual, hermaphrodite and dioecious forms (wikipedia)

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Anthropologically speaking, Sex and Gender are not the same thing. There are many good examples of societies that organise themselves with more than two genders, such as the traditional society of Tonga, and the Bugis people of Indonesia.

As such, it is not unreasonable to speculate that an alien species that has no sexual reproduction might still organise society along lines that Humans would recognise as "genders".

These divisions might be entirely arbitrary, or there might be physiological traits that are used by the society to assign "genders" to individuals.

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    $\begingroup$ The Tongan Fa'afafine caste has 500 members. The acclaimed to be transsexual Calalai and Calabai of the Bugi are only described, as far as I can find, by a single author. I doubt your assertion "There are many good examples that organize themselves with more than two genders." I don't believe there are any examples where such people are accepted. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Dec 11 '18 at 12:46
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Rather than say they are genderless, make them both genders. Many plants and tree's function as both male and female, or you could just look a the wonderful world of animal hermaphrodites.

The common worm for example is a Hermaphrodite, it is both male and female. During sex it'll both inseminate it's partner and be inseminated. This way you prevent the question "if they can't have children with sex, why would they get sexual organs?". Also it prevents the necessity of having a special place to pour your blood in and reduces the chances of poor DNA because you can't mix DNA with a partner the way you describe it.

As for pronouns, just make everything male or female if necessary. Or to put it bluntly if you have a more nurturing persona it is female and a more violent persona becomes male or whatever. It's stereotypical but stereotypes developed for a reason and can be used to signal how a character might react and give the reader a better handhold to who's who and what or why they are doing something.

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  • $\begingroup$ Well, as for the DNA part, although only one person is needed to create offspring that doesn't mean that two or more people can't do the same thing at the same time in the same place, in which case the child would be the result of their mixed blood, then having more than one parent. And that's not the only way to mix DNA, but I'm not gonna make it very scientifically correct in that regard. $\endgroup$ – Suthay Dec 10 '18 at 23:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Suthay you don't need to be correct, just vague enough to not be incorrect. A particular format of blood-borne stem cell might answer your immortality and your breeding requirements. $\endgroup$ – Giu Piete Dec 13 '18 at 2:04
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The only valid answer is "sure, why not!" You are inventing a species that never existed, and doesn't even have to be evolutionarily reasonable. The race is whatever you want it to be.

There is, perhaps, a linguistic question as to whether anything they do can be called "sex" or not, but that's a minor detail. You have specified the intent of the action (whatever it gets called) to be one of bonding. Build something from that intent. If it gets called "sex," great. If not, great! Don't get hung up on the word. The word was designed to fit our world with our assumptions and our cultural norms and our evolved animals. It's just a word.

Now if you want this to be reasonable from an evolutionary perspective, I'd make sure there's a pretty solid reason for having the biology for this particular act. Sex fills a very obvious procreative need, which gets built into us at the genetic level, whether we are humans, dogs, or fruit flies. Your act clearly must solve a similar grade of problem. Consider that any such act can and will be misused. My recommendation: think of this ability as a weakness. Exploit the heck out of it. Let other species exploit the heck out of it. Then, once you're done, make sure that whatever benefits are gained from this act outweigh the costs of those exploits.

Just remember, the world is a strange place. Consider that many flatworms engage in what has been termed penis fencing. They are hermaphrodite worms, where the loser of a duel is the one who has to carry the eggs, which is a substantial energy cost. In this strange class of creatures, there are no gender roles until after "sex," at which point the loser is arguably assigned the "female" role of carrying the eggs.

Nature will always out-odd you. Every time you think you have come up with something odd and impossible, you find out there's already something odder.

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As the author describes, this species just needs to be able to reproduce asexually. And as he described its reproductive process, it's quite similar to parthenogenesis.

Now, one could make a point in describing a genderless species or culture as a monogender one, seeing that all specimens would have the same role in society. With this you could say that all are male or female gendered, and that there could be other genders but they disappeared. This has happened already in Earth.

The New Mexico whiptail is a female only species of reptiles which reproduce by parthenogenesis. Also, for the new specimens to be male, a male sperm is needed, but seeing as there are no more males... They also engage in same sex sexual activities.

Applying this to your species would mean that once upon a time, there were male and female in your world, but somehow the male disappeared. This would explain why they have vestigial sexual organs, that could be used for pleasure, but reproduce asexually.

Note: In non human species, sex and gender do not have a distinction, and I'm applying that same criteria for the sake of the comparison to the example given.

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  • $\begingroup$ Now this is a yes answer I can get behind :) theverge.com/2015/7/19/8994705/… "whiptail lizards : females sometimes mount other females. Scientists think this behavior is hormonally driven" $\endgroup$ – Pelinore Dec 12 '18 at 6:47
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Yes, but they probably won't form exclusive pairs

In humans and other social apes, the pleasure from the sexual act - originally simply used to encourage reproduction - has become re-purposed towards general social bonding. Bonobos will use sex to strengthen the ties of a group and the sex of the individuals pairing up is generally irrelevant, in addition the sex is pretty indiscriminate among members of a group, without many long-term, exclusive bonds.

I'd expect an asexual species to be more similar to bonobos than humans - sex is used not to form pairs (the exclusive pair-bonding instinct generally revolves around raising a child that shares the DNA of both parents), but to forge alliances and strengthen ties between members of a group. Basically it would be like a stronger, more intense form of a handshake - a gesture intended to demonstrate openness and vulnerability. The exact details of the act do not need to look or function like sex, but it could.

How could it look like sex?

In bonobos the social act evolved from the sex act, but it doesn't have to work this way. It is not uncommon for birds to "kiss" their partners - this may be because birds feed their children by vomiting into their mouth, so touching beaks functions as a pleasurable-bonding sensation that is instilled from an early age and is later re-purposed towards pair bonding (or, if you're not into the vomiting thing, humans and bonobos probably kiss because it loosely mimics the act of nursing, or simply eating). Animals often play-wrestle with their siblings to practice fighting - the same act could be re-purposed towards bonding with other members of their social group. And many social animals expose their vulnerable belly to demonstrate submission and trust - perhaps this same gesture could evolve into belly-to-belly contact as a means of demonstrating mutual trust. So kissing and naked belly-to-belly wrestling basically looks like sex even if its origins are unrelated. They probably won't have genitals though, since there's no real reason for them.

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From the evolution standpoint, if they reproduce by combining DNA of two different individuals it's still sex, everything else is not relevant, and it doesn't require genders but just exchange of genes.

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    $\begingroup$ "but instead requires the input of someone else" unless it's been edited out since I read it last it clearly states in the question that it doesn't require the input of another, so maybe you'd like to reconsider your answer? $\endgroup$ – Pelinore Dec 12 '18 at 12:02
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Humans reproduce sexually. The sex act is therefore linked to reproduction, and therefore tied into our biology. Without reproduction, it's a matter of doing things that feel good to our partner and friends, piggybacking on the biology of reproduction. I can't think of anything that could replace sex in its social and pleasure functions for humans, and I don't think a species that didn't have some equivalent of sex would have anything equivalent. What they'd probably have is the equivalent of back rubs, which are nice but aren't really adequate for social pairing. (We have sex between members of the same sex, but it's still related to doing nice things to the partner's reproductive organs. No reproductive organs, no sex.)

I'd expect members of the species to cooperate in raising children, back rubs or no. They could form up into friendship groups. They wouldn't have sex-based gender, but that doesn't mean they don't have some other dimorphism or polymorphism that affects behavior, so there might be the equivalent.

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I think calling the action "sex" wouldn't make sense. That's like asking if humans can be "venomous", since we don't include any pointy teeth or spines with which we could inject a poison into another animal. Following the "venomous" chain of thought, we could probably hurt another animal with a liquid from our body (maybe stomach acid?), but we wouldn't call that human "venomous".

Similarly, since your species don't have sexual organs, they wouldn't have sex per se. They may be able to enjoy other physically pleasurable activities with each other (like humans can tickle each other or massage each other, no matter what age or gender), but I would not call it "sex".

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  • $\begingroup$ Curious why the downvote? $\endgroup$ – BrettFromLA Dec 11 '18 at 14:58
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Assuming this is how they evolved & it's not a recently bio-engineered alteration to the species.

or a species that evolved with two sexes then developed asexual reproduction as a backup system then lost all their males, like some extant lizards.

Then the only reasonable answer is No

You've said you want them to have sex, but the text of your question gives no reason for any organs or instincts for the performance of anything that might even broadly be considered as "sex" to have developed & doesn't actually suggest that they have either.

No sexual reproduction = no sexual organs (& none of the associated pleasure centers) = no sex.

If they evolved this way then they'll have no sexual instincts & no sexual organs.

They'll be both physiologically & psychologically incapable of sex & if there's no other organisms on their planet that evolved for sexual reproduction the chances are they won't even have a word for it .

They probably won't even be aware of the concepts of either "sex" or sexual reproduction if there aren't other organisms on their planet that use it.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think wb:se has about 3 members who can read. Though that may be an overestimation. $\endgroup$ – Giu Piete Dec 12 '18 at 9:37
  • $\begingroup$ @GiuPiete : no it's not that bad, I'm sure they can all read, it's just the subject matter, my guess is people are conflating "asexual" with LBG getting all politically correct & getting upset at the idea they're being told LBG people wouldn't have sex, it's not that they can't read, just that they don't know what parthenogenesis & asexual reproduction actually means, so ignorant perhaps, irrational probably, but illiterate no :) $\endgroup$ – Pelinore Dec 12 '18 at 11:39
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NO.

Your race reproduces by an individual spilling ids blood. No sexual relations between partners. End of story.

We have to look at this from the long term perspective: evolutionarily. A sexual species has evolved the mechanism of sex in order to reproduce its physical manifestation within the physical world. (Two (or more) bodies come into contact through sexual union; they exchange genetic material; a new generation is procreated.)

Your species, by definition does not do this. They are asexual and agendered. Your people reproduce parthenogenetically: each individual goes to a particular place, spills some blood into that place and a new generation is procreated. Different biology; different psychology.

Among themselves, they will naturally have evolved some native mechanism that results in bonds of close relationship. It might be as simple as the interlacing of sensitive appendages "hand holding" or the rubbing of orifices "kissing". Proximity and touch; perhaps staring into one another's eyes; mutual grooming. Any of these things could serve as the modality through which the bonding that sexual organisms experience comes about. It's not sex, but it serves a parallel function.


Re sex and gender:

Sex is basically the physical characteristics depending on genetic factors. In humans, XX are female sex; XY are male sex. (Yes there are rare "other" sexes.)

Gender is basically the social constructs built upon the physical & genetic factors. In humans, female sex corresponds to female gender & male sex corresponds to male gender. (Yes, there are (usually politically motivated) groups that would like us to think we can make up our own.)

Your race has neither of these physical or social phenomena, and therefore will also not have the anatomical structures that go with sex. Such a person may still love and wish to form a deep bond with a fellow of ids own kind or even wish to form such a bond with a sexed & gendered being. While with the former, the physical activity is clearly non-sexual in nature, it can serve a similar purpose. With the latter they may engage in physical activity that replicates some sexual behaviours; and the sexed & gendered being may interpret those actions as sexual in nature, but the "feeling isn't mutual" as they say.


Re pronouns:

Given that your species is a race of rational, intelligent and self-aware beings, language will be something to consider. Especially as you write their stories.

As has been mentioned in the comments, English does have an epicene third person singular pronoun, they. In English, we use this form to denote the third person but whose sex and/or gender is not relevant. That person still has sex & gender, but for the purposes of the present speech or writing, their sex is not relevant.

You could use this in your writing, but the inherent sex & gender even within the epicene pronoun I think would not be the optimal solution.

There is precedent in the fantasy literature for true agendered pronouns. The best system I've seen fits nicely with English pronouns already in use:

(F)......(M)......(non)

she......he......id

her......his......ids

her......him......idre

hers......his......ids

This particular system was devised and used within a novel whose main characters were, like your species, naturally asexual and agendered. So, no females, no males, no hermaphrodites, no intersexed of any kind.

Whenever I have had need of such pronouns, it is this system I have made recourse to on account of its sounding more "natural" than other systems I've come across and it fits the English in a linguistically diachronic fashion.

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  • $\begingroup$ Or, you could use the pronoun system already in use in English: he/she/they, hers/his/theirs, her/him/them. After all, it's a translation from whatever they are speaking into English, just as when Chinese is translated into English is translated into "he/she/him/her/it" as necessary rather than just using a single pronoun, as Chinese does. And in any event, a biologically genderless culture is unlikely to come up with different pronouns based on sex anyway; why would they? $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Dec 10 '18 at 22:42
  • $\begingroup$ Because "they" means "she or he", not someone of no gender. This is very old and established usage in English. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Dec 10 '18 at 22:48
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    $\begingroup$ @elemtilas I think you may be reading a bit too much into the genders for "they." As for your arguments, they come up a bit shallow. ;-) $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Dec 10 '18 at 23:17
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, but which arguments? $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Dec 11 '18 at 0:51
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    $\begingroup$ @elemtilas, singular-they is used to refer to a person of unspecified gender: he, she, both, neither, or whatever variation one prefers. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Dec 11 '18 at 3:26
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Sex and gender both have meanings which people adopt and fight over in an unending and rather boring attempt to define and redefine what is socially acceptable, what is not, what is weird and what is not.

You want a sexless people to have physical relationships. So do it, just don't call it sex. You want a sexless people to have child-rearing roles. So do it, just don't call it sex.

Stroking a pet gives pleasure, most of us wouldn't describe it as sexual. It has an inter-specie social function. Not everything physical needs to be about sex or fighting.

In terms of the communication of concepts, I'd suggest just pretending your readers already understand what is going on. Nobody cares if you give your individual characters weird names, and most people capable of reading are also capable of eventually realising that when you say 'yed' you don't just mean a person, you mean a particular type of person or a person in a particular role.

Consider that in a story involving the USMC, people conversant with the material don't spend time wondering what the sexual orientation of 'Gunny' is.

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