Gender in the Middleland

Due to geographical isolation and reliance on yaw as a food source, the Middlelander culture evolved both unique mating norms and unique biology compared to the other ethnicities present in the universe of Goda’s Slave. Notably, Middlelanders have an unusual sexual dimorphism (women are generally larger and stronger than men), have a propensity for multiple births, and exhibit a vastly different reproductive strategy. They also exhibit a completely different concept of gender altogether.

Fertile Females, Robust Females, and Non-Females

In the Middleland culture’s gender-sex “spectrum,” women are born primarily within a range of two polarities: fertile (Type 1 women) and robust (Type 2 women). While there is overlap and no hard line can really be established between the two, most women are polarized to one extreme or the other.

So-called fertile women are usually able to give birth and are generally taller than men, with strong lower bodies and a fierce protective instinct over children.

Robust women are almost always (though not always) sterile, bigger than fertile women, and much more top-heavy. In addition, many robust women have ambiguous features in their genitalia and will often have a small phallus (in addition to a “standard,” though non-functioning, female reproductive system). This is considered normal and expected; to Middlelanders, it is not a sign of androgyny.

Men in the Middleland are small, fertile during a relatively short period of their young adult lives (around age 16 to 35), and have taken on traits that may appear feminine or neotanous to the other cultures after eons of sexual selection pressure for these features. They are socially and physically dominated by fertile women.

Gendered Language

In the Middlelander culture, maleness is not seen as something separate from femaleness, and in fact the word for “man” in the Middlelander tongue (mahmshyĆ”) is merely the word for “woman” (mahm) with a diminutive suffix. The word for “woman” itself is the same as the generic word for “person” and any specificity must be inferred through context.

Within the teachings of traditional Middlelander mythology, all humans are born from the womb of the Goddess Mahara, and so all humans are in Her image: Fundamentally female (endowed with “mother” energy); it’s just that some have functional wombs, while others don’t.

Maleness is viewed as a sort of incomplete femaleness. Men are required to “borrow” the wombs of others in order to connect with the Goddess in wholeness, since they lack their own means to create children. Most Middlelanders view male reproductive organs as simply larger, descended versions of external female genitalia with no significant reproductive function.

In this way, the concept of androgyny–as most other societies may view it–does not exactly exist in the Middleland, since there is neither a strict binary nor even a gender spectrum per se. To a Middlelander, there is only one gender. All people are simply different versions of this one fundamental thing.

Due to this cultural perspective, the Middlelander tongue lacks gendered pronouns and many other words that are gendered in other languages–including many anatomical terms.

Skewed Demographics

Due to a low survival rate for male embryos and a high frequency of female twins, most Middlelanders are women. They outnumber men by a significant margin, making up more than 70% of the total population. Of these women, most (around 80 to 85%) are “fertile” women, with the rest falling into the “robust” part of the spectrum.

Because they are statistical minorities, both men and robust women face discrimination of varying degrees in Middlelander society. Men in particular are unable to hold certain jobs and are unable to pass on wealth, since they cannot legally marry or start a household of their own.

Robust women, on the other hand, maintain equal rights to fertile women on a legal level (in part because there is no hard line between them), but may face job discrimination in certain fields and may face difficulties in securing high-status marriage partners.