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.

Watch this movie: High Life

This one’s a tricky recommendation.

It’s not often that I like revolting movies, movies that are repulsive for the sake of being repulsive, movies that are obviously trying to shock you.

But here I am.

high life

High Life is a recent sci-fi film by French director Claire Denis. It stars Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche as travelers on a spacecraft on a one-way mission to harness the energy of a black hole. And perform experiments.

The twist? There are two. Number one: all onboard are death row convicts. Number two: the experiments involve trying to bring a baby to term in deep space.

That all sounds like a run-of-the-mill sci-fi plot. High Life is definitely, absolutely, 100% not. Like I said, it’s revolting. It’s graphic. There should be a whole list of trigger warnings attached. Every trigger warning ever invented.

But it’s also beautiful. Beautifully shot. Beautifully scripted. Beautifully acted.

I was never a Twilight fan. I watched the first one in German and that was enough. But Robert Pattinson is one hell of an actor. His character is reserved (mostly) and mysterious enough to not be annoying.

Juliette Binoche is a madwoman in every sense. The rest of the cast are all great — intense and hateful — with the exception of Andre Lauren Benjamin (aka Outkast’s Andre 3000), who plays a convict full of regret for what he left behind on Earth.

High Life is not for everyone. Some scenes were straight-up sick. Still, this movie is one hell of a trip.