“Why are femmes even important? They’re machines, they shouldn’t HAVE genders FORCED onto them.”
Yeah pretty much this. It seems so self-evident to me that Cybertronians don’t have an intrinsic gender—or if they do it’s not qualified in a way that human gender is— that I mentally stumble when I come across people who treat them like they do.
Crap, accidentally deleted what I was saying. Okay… shorter this time.
I agree with OP, we shouldn’t force gender on them. Gender is societal, and Cybertronians undoubtedly have a rather different society than we do. The problem with this is: humans write the show, humans watch the show, and humans INTERPRET the show in terms of human experience. Argh, wording. Anyways, the point is that you can’t sidestep an issue by pretending it’s not there. The Cybertronians are written to have primarily masculine traits and most respond to masculine pronouns. Theoretically, a genderless species would seem either a mixture of masculine and feminine to us, or else seem so completely alien that “he” and “she” don’t apply. Ack, sidetracked again.
The point: humans are writing the show with genderless MASCULINE robots, reinforcing the flawed idea that masculinity is the default and feminity is the aberration. Argh wording. But… here, let me point you to someone who said it better: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/05/24/male-as-the-neutral-default/
I promise you, this isn’t really something I need explained to me. XD
My statement that, within the context of the fiction, it makes no sense for TF characters to be gendered as (predominantly) male in terms of the human gender binary is by no means meant to sidestep the fact that the metatext of the TF franchise of the whole is incredibly problematic when it comes to gender. As I’ve discussed multiple times, on Tumblr and elsewhere, it’s pretty clear that Hasbro and many of the creators still consider Transformers a boy’s club— females are marginalized as characters and generally ignored as fans. We ladies are not reflected well in TF fiction, partly because Hasbro continues to insist that TF is made by boys for boys. The way that TF fiction reinforces maleness/stereotyped masculinity as the norm and femaleness/stereotyped femininity as the (inferior) exception via the Cybertronian characters identifying primarily as males is only one symptom of a much bigger illness.
In fact, I would argue that it’s misleading to say that TF is about genderless robots at all. It’s very, very obvious that it’s about boy robots doing boy things with boy humans (and occasional females thrown into the mix as tokens). Hasbro as a rule tends to sidestep the issue of either physical sexes or genders in Transformers as a species, and when they do address it, it’s often very glib (the “built to appease human feminists” origin for Arcee in the Marvel comics or the “it’s just a model type” word-of-god for Aligned continuity) or downright problematic (the “genderfucked against his will by Jhiaxus” origin for Arcee in the IDW comics).
Personally, I think it’s totally possible for human writers to produce human-interpreted fiction presented to a human audience and still write the Cybertronians as genderless (or possessing of a non-human gender system). The fact that it doesn’t happen in TF is, frankly, because TF is lazy sci-fi from an internal consistency/wordbuilding perspective, not because it can’t or shouldn’t be done. Hasbro is toeing the line by characterizing their TFs firmly within the lines of the stereotypical Western/European gender binary, and making their Cybertronians primarily male is pandering to their perception of their primary audience.
If Hasbro was willing to take a risk, or let its writers take a risk— or hell, let its writers write some real goddamn sci-fi— I daresay we might see a Cybertronian species where the aliens are actually alien and not just people in giant robot suits who sometimes talk using a peculiar lexicon of robotty terms. It could be done in a way that’s totally comprehensible to its audience, and if a particularly deft hand were allowed to do it, it could also be done in a way that illuminates and challenges the gender hegemony instead of playing along with it.
Wouldn’t that be cool?
It’s a beautiful dream. ;______;
And yup, boy stuff sells better. Parents don’t want to explain non-binary genders to their kids. I’ll just be sobbing in my corner again.
Honestly though, the comics at least are targeted at older audiences who could explore exactly what you describe. Yet in a lot ways the writing seems worse in places. Arg. It’s such a missed opportunity. I just want to find someone and SHAKE THEM until their head pops off… X\ Though I suppose that would be counter productive.
I wonder… if we wanted to make notions and feelings like this known, who would we turn to?