This is something I've been pondering seriously and trying to work into my writing, and I've definitely been inspired by the X men series, as well as the Deus Ex series.

This is something I was thinking of in the context of writing science fiction that deals with those kinds of themes. This occurred to me; might it take some time for common people and mainstream to simply acknowledge discrimination issues that do not have to do with race, ethnicity, sex, or sexual orientation?
How would the response to them realistically compare?

While writing, I thought of this question thinking about that time that an X men poster showed Apocalypse strangling Mystique, and someone said that it promoted violence against women.
Now obviously that was silly and it was criticized by some people because Apocalypse was a bad guy, so.
But the part that bothers me is the fact that someone could possibly see something like that from a gender perspective, rather than a species perspective.
Mystique is supposed to be able to shapeshift and change form, so either she's not a woman or it shouldn't matter as much as violence against mutants, right?
It's a more significant physical characteristic for someone to be superpowered than for them to be female.

But that made me wonder, if in a future world various enhanced humans exist, might those differences distract from things like racism/sexism, or simply add onto and amplify them? I imagine that the thing about racism is that it's a long time issue, so people with green skin don't have any of the culture associated with black people for people to use to discriminate against them, so maybe it would be some other perceived problem.
Perhaps they'd be considered gross and slimy like some racists might act like people with dark skin are dirty?
It's a hypothetical question of course, but I'm curious about opinions on this matter, since I've been trying to represent this kind of thing in a realistic matter.

  • $\begingroup$ IMHO the mutant discrimination is a placeholder/stand-in for our "traditional" racism. But any time that something emerges that is "different" it will trigger the same feelings. So you are not wrong. That's why XMen and the like is a useful metaphor, because it allows us to explore these issues along with our current issues. $\endgroup$
    – AndyD273
    Feb 1, 2017 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ One word you might want to look up: Intersectionality. $\endgroup$
    – PatJ
    Feb 1, 2017 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ Recommended movie to watch, gattaca It deals with idea of "genism" where people discriminate on genes you have $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2017 at 20:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ While this is an interesting scenario and I would love to see answers on it, you may have lost your chances with I'm curious about opinions on this matter. On Worldbuilding, one of the reasons we close questions is because they're primarily opinion-based. That being said, you can absolutely claim, reason, and evidence your way through the question without a single opinion - talk about the Civil Rights movement, reasons to discriminate, etc, without being opinion-based - but that one line sort of makes the question that way. Consider editing it. $\endgroup$
    – Zxyrra
    Feb 1, 2017 at 23:21
  • $\begingroup$ Generally, historically, I think varying prejudices tend to overlap and add on each other, making those more vulnerable with more stacked against them - you might look up intersectionality for some ideas, $\endgroup$
    – Megha
    Feb 3, 2017 at 5:21

2 Answers 2


I think discrimination will exist as long as there are humans. It is built in. I discriminate when I select one book to read over another. We are born to make choices. So if you are writing about humans, they will continue to be human. We all have opinions. We all think others are right or wrong. If you want to make a new species, then you can write them the way you want.

It could be that discrimination is not about any of the regular reasons that we know today and maybe your society has matured past religious or sexist or cultural discrimination. It doesn't matter if you are acting against a person if it is because they are a woman, or a different colour, if they are old or young, a different religion or a different culture. It stinks and no one reason outweighs another.

Will you ever find two people that agree on everything? All you need do is have the beings that think this thing and those that think that thing. Your society could discriminate against people who think differently about politics. You could find that beings that have different abilities discriminate against those with different abilities. Flyers vs swimmers. Invisibility vs strength...

I think from the reader's point of view, we will understand nearly any reason for discrimination. It's as simple as "He's not from my village." "He's competing for food/water/mates." "He smells different." "I don't like him."


The major factors for discrimination are just two: the power to do it and the means to get away with it. There's no shortage of people who will lash out at others' expense, and they don't really care about the objective importance of the difference they're using as an excuse.

In other words, discrimination is:

  • Facilitated by power: being in the majority, or being in a more powerful position

  • Justified by society: having some context set up to brand unfair behavior as okay, such as "holy" texts that trash talk about women, homosexuals, disbelievers, etc.

That's basically it. Some variant of it holds true in most discrimination cases, though the justification story is sometimes more obscure. In school bullying, for example, the justification may be an unspoken consensus that the target is worthless, and attacks are of no consequence to anyone else. Anyway, power over the victim is not sufficient for discrimination. The majority of power in the vicinity, like that of bystanders, needs to be indifferent to the discrimination.

It's likely that we'll continue to have discrimination as long as there are nationalists, religious zealots, or racial/cultural supremacy groups. These things are major breeding grounds for it.

To get similar discrimination in a Fantasy setting, all you need is a reasonably strong group that sets the stage for discriminating the target. Could be pretty simple, like a "natural humans" group that takes issue with modified people, because, for example, it messes with God's divine construction plan. If you have enough such people around, perpetrators will feel safe enough to act.


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