Gender Opinion Pattern:

This is a small but extremely passionate pattern whenever it appears. It pops up mainly in the Family part, or maybe I just wasn’t noticing. There are three specific examples I can tell for this specific style:

Example 1:

“Males and females kept their scents and never lived outside their kinship area.” (67)

They get stronger and more opinionated after this.

Example 2:

“How much did sex determine personality among the Oankali? She shook her head Stupid question. She did not know how much sex determined personality even among human beings.” (82)

Example 3:

“ ‘When they woke me up, I thought the ooloi acted like men and women while the males and females acted like eunuchs. I never really lost the habit of thinking of ooloi as male or female.’

That, Lilith thought, was a foolish way for someone who had decided to spend his life among the Oankali to think—a kind of deliberate, persistent ignorance.” (89)

Hypothesis 1: Butler clearly is trying to make some sort of social commentary regarding gender and using the Oankali as the novum through which her voice is heard. It seems like one place, similarly to War of the Worlds, Butler is using her own voice through Lilith’s thoughts to acknowledge gendered binaries that exist just by human nature, going back to the idea of hierarchy. It’s not hierarchy in a strict sense, but more so in the idea of a social structure that exists in human minds that doesn’t exist for the Oankali.


Hypothesis 2: This could also play into the assimilation aspect, from that point; it could be a commentary on that difficulty Lilith is experiencing to fit in with a totally new environment. I don’t think that it is this as much as the other, because Lilith’s thoughts are particularly slanted toward ignorance.