Wait…Gendercide Is a Thing?

I like to consider myself a fan of all things speculative–horror and supernatural and sci-fi books, movies, TV shows, etc., and I believe I know a ton about these genres.

Apparently I don’t. The other day I was rabbit holing into the latest of a long line of literary controversies (I won’t go into it here) and I read this article asking whether it’s time do do away with the gendercide trope, a trope I’ve never heard of before.

What is gendercide? It sounds nasty, because it is. Gendercide is where either the men or the women in any given story are killed or die off from some nefarious or mysterious or viral reason. The book that inspired the article introducing me to gendercide is The Men by Sandra Newman. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s about a world where all males suddenly vanish. The remaining women adjust to this disappearance, while videos online depict the men living in a hellish landscape.

There are others, too, such as Y: The Last Man, a comic turned TV show where (almost) all men die of a virus. One of my favorite books, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, is a variant of the gendercide trope; the novel opens in an all-male society where the women have mysteriously died off.

According to TVtropes.org, gendercide isn’t super popular, and most of the time only a variant is used (only some or most of either men or women die or disappear). Stories where the men disappear are more in line with the theme of feminist utopia, and stories where the women vanish are considered dystopic.

In reading about Newman’s book, I found it disturbing that all the men were sent to a hellscape ruled by demons. Oddly, the writer of the article critical of gendercide (and Newman’s book), didn’t write about that disturbing aspect of it. From me, though, disturbing is not a criticism. I want to learn more about this trope, and see how different writers explore it.

The Health Benefits of Writing

Writing saved my life. Okay, that may be an exaggeration as well as a cliche, but cliches have a foundation in truth, and while writing may not have stopped a speeding bus from pancaking me as I ventured through a crosswalk, the (almost) daily act has helped center me and give me purpose.

With that in mind, how much do writers (and readers) consider the health benefits of writing? And by health benefits I mean psychological, which is as important as the physical. In a recent blog post for Jersey City Writers (a large, community-based writing group I’m a part of), one of the moderators, Sara Stone, reflected on the mental health benefits of writing, and she came up with a surprising benefit of putting pen to paper and SHARING it: the act of sharing your writing for critique requires TRUST, and trust in turn can foster community and acceptance.

I’d never thought of that aspect of writing. Even here, this act of writing these exact words right this very minute forces me to build my resiliency, to face and accept that some might not like these words. But others might. And that’s cool.

To read more of Sara’s post, plus all of the nitty gritty psychological links, click here.