There is already a trend that gender roles are not as "serious" as they used to be and the criminalization of homophobia (here in Brazil at least) has helped many men to express femininity without much fear even if Brazil has a very macho culture.

Maybe these trends could make feminine men a substantial portion of the male population in the future when gender roles have disappeared but today I am talking about appearance.

Genetic Engineering could make guys who look naturally feminine (for example men with aromatase excess syndrome produce female levels of estrogen) who have gynecomastia, high pitched voices, and feminine curves but brain manipulation would be needed to make them accept the way they look and still identify as males without having gender dysphoria like crossdressers already do. I believe that gendered clothing will no longer exist so the word crossdresser might not even make sense anymore in this future.

Long hair could become common in men in the future like it used to be in the 17th - 18th centuries since some decades ago guys with long hair were very rare to see and nowadays many men have long hair but they are still in the minority.

I'd like to read or watch a sci fi story in which social and cultural gender differences had disappeared but I did not find anything.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ This is pretty much purely speculation and therefore difficult to answer. There are some assumptions here (that brain manipulation would be needed for a feminine-presenting male to be comfortable in their skin, for example) that don't appear to be founded in anything. At the moment, would VTC based on a lack of clarity. $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Jan 15 at 1:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Gender roles becoming obsolete is one thing, which is already happening; women being attracted to round curvy men with boobs is a very different thing, which is unlikely to happen. (And, seriously, long-haired men were not really all that rare some decades ago. Have you heard of the hippie movement? Have you watched Hair? Not to mention that western-style haircuts are, well, specific to the western civilization.) (17th or 18th century portraits of men are more likely to show their wigs than their hair.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jan 15 at 2:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ As of now I don't think it's possible to answer your question, since culture itself and the social behaviors associated to it aren't exactly the most predictable. During the 10th century men would wear heels, something that's mostly considered something directed to females today. Unless there's an active factor favoring such traits to becoming dominant (families wanting their male kids to be like this, women preferring these traits, governments and society violently discriminating against commonly masculine features) it'd be mostly speculation. It's mainly up to you in your story to decide. $\endgroup$ Jan 15 at 2:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Gender roles don't have a direct impact on the physical features you mention, one's biology the other is culture, the only way culture effects biology is through sexual selection & that tends to taka a very long time & will requires that culture to remain static for that very long time. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Jan 15 at 3:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "I'd like to read or watch a sci fi story in which social and cultural gender differences had disappeared." This isn't exactly what you're asking for (it deals with an alien species that can shift biological sex), but Ursula LeGuin's "The Left Hand of Darkness" deals with sex and gender in society and might be interesting to you. $\endgroup$
    – Callisto
    Jan 15 at 3:18

There need not be any correlation

A lack of sex roles and a change in physical characteristics are very different things. Your future society may be entirely egalitarian and enlightened, but if it also cracks down on plasticizers and cleans up estrogenic chemicals and other endocrine disruptors in the environment, there might be less variety in sexual characteristics and sexuality.

If you're going to explore cultural manifestations, it would be interesting to try to get to the bottom of how cultures ossify, and lose tolerance for the ways people previously acted in their personal lives, and what can be done to restore cultural flexibility. Supposedly sexual and rather absurd practices - Cromwell's "Roundhead" hairstyle, long Croatian cravats, the use of cosmetics by most women - these all originated at points comparatively recently in history. We might similarly ask how people came to decide that a single song from Wagner's "Lohengrin" represents all weddings or that a 19th-century play about "Santa Claus" should come to define how they think of Christmas. There has been a profit motive in many of those things; ponder the mechanism of the marketing and you may explain why your men are nursing babies.

To be sure, male lactation is not unheard of. Darwin wrote about it in some length, and there are many modern stories. You could propose it is induced chemically, if you'd like.

For sexual orientation, you should look into pheromone research. I may be going well beyond scientific evidence with this model, but basically, take into account that there are GnRH-secreting neurons that migrate to the hypothalamus and release their hormone to stimulate sex hormones from the anterior pituitary. These would be expected to respond to pheromones such as estratetraenol that are produced by bacteria breaking down sex hormones. So the person (typically unconsciously) "smells" a scent associated with a given sex (possibly via vomeronasal organ [vestigial?] and terminal cranial nerve). If the smeller produces the receptor for that type of pheromone, they respond by producing sex hormones. This process conditions the perception of attractiveness, but not just at the moment the smell occurs; it trains the brain each time the scent is detected, so that 'attractive' people resemble the average of the characteristics - even superficial fashion - that were presented alongside the pheromone. So if your citizens all detect both types of pheromone, or secrete both types of pheromone, you might hypothesize that most people in your society would be functionally bisexual.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .