Y’know, we’ve hit the biggest, most important questions already now – whether it would be a good idea to make Pokémon real, and what Pokémon’s core themes are. Since I’ve so recklessly squandered this format’s potential by clearing up the grandest conceivable questions in the first two instalments (and, in so doing, settled those questions in perpetuity and throughout the universe), I’d like to move on, for the third One of These Things, to something much more detail-oriented.
How do all the “genderless” Pokémon work?
Pokémon that are “genderless”/“gender-unknown” presumably must reproduce, because they don’t all immediately go extinct as species. Some of them might just be functionally immortal, but I have to imagine that most of them reproduce in some way that (for whatever reason) we just don’t see in the “day-care” environments we have in the games, some way that’s different from whatever the “standard” male/female Pokémon are doing. For instance, I like to think that Magneton reproduce by fission – that at the end of its life a Magneton will break down into several Magnemite, and there is some chance of either a new Magneton forming from fewer than three Magnemite or an old Magneton breaking down into more than three, such that their population can gradually increase to make up the difference when some of them inevitably explode or get eaten by bears.
What can you come up with? What’s a “genderless” Pokémon that you think might reproduce in an interesting way? Or (related) what do you think “gender-unknown” might really mean for some of those species (3+ genders that don’t neatly map to male/female? Fluid gender? Truly genderless?)?
[EDIT: I should clarify here I’m using the word “gender” because that’s the games’ word for the property that seems to dictate which Pokémon can successfully breed with each other, which is… eh… let’s just try to overlook the obvious issues there.]
I was thinking about Pokemon not being classified by sex but their internal gender, and that pokemon are sexless. But then I was thinking how these genders are classified by male and female which are classifications for biological sex, not one’s internal gender, which would be man, woman, or non-binary. It’s probably because the word sex is a bit too PG for an E rating, so they just used gender instead. Though male and female can be used for gender. Would the original Japanese reveal anything?
Oh, that is almost certainly what they really mean; I don’t even think there’s any doubt about that (although I can’t read Japanese, so I’m afraid you’re on your own there). I just think it’s more entertaining to make wild speculations based on their poor word choice.
You mentioned most members of the Marill line technically being transgender. If Pokémon could be transgender, how would this work with your ideas on Pokémon gender?
Disclaimer first of all that my ideas on Pokémon gender are totally bat$#!t and probably bear little resemblance to anything Game Freak’s designers have ever thought in the privacy of their own brains…
…and secondary disclaimer that since the last time I babbled about Azurill, someone has pointed out to me that Game Freak actually did remove/fix(?) the gender thing in generation VI…
…and tertiary disclaimer that I’m cis and have no close friends who are trans (or… I don’t think I do…), so I kinda don’t really know what I’m talking about here…
…but my understanding is that transgender is basically when your biological sex doesn’t match up with your psychology or the social role you’re comfortable with, and in a world where gender works the way I outlined in that article, this… well, wouldn’t happen. What little sex differentiation Pokémon exhibit is directly tied to their psychology, so by definition they’re all cisgender. Which means that if you believe my rambling nonsense, what Azurill is doing is something quite different, where her gender identity actually changes (the point of trans being that your gender identity was the same all along and everything else about you is catching up, so to speak – which is how you’d interpret Azurill if we do think Pokémon have biological sex differentiation), for which I think the term is genderfluid but I’m not really sure?
I’m just confusing myself now so I’ll shut up before I offend anyone I haven’t already.
Any thoughts on why Meowstic-M and Meowstic-F are considered the same Pokemon while Nidoran-M and Nidoran-F are not?
I think really it’s just a matter of the games’ history. In Red and Blue, gender was something that was unique to Nidoran, so having separate “species” was the only way they could do that. They could have retconned that, of course – reassigned the Pokédex numbers so that male and female Nidoran were formally the same species – but then there would technically be only 149 first-generation Pokémon, not 150, and something tells me that the idea of reducing the official number of Pokémon species would make Game Freak very uneasy. If you want an in-universe answer… well, it seems like they do consider them the same Pokémon. I mean, they’re both called “Nidoran.” Possibly the Pokédex separates them because they have different evolutionary paths, which Meowstic doesn’t.
In regards to the nidorina and nidoqueen thing and the cubone thing, I’m going to connect them into a theory that makes sense. Cubone and Marowak were meant to be unable to breed, and gamefreak accidentally somehow put the unbreedable trait on nidorina and nidoqueen instead, and they never corrected their mistake by making nidoqueens able to lay eggs and marowaks unable to.
A lovely idea, marred only by the lack of any evidence whatsoever…
The story of Red and Blue establishes that a Marowak can be a “mother,” regardless of whatever else is going on with the Cubone skulls, so why would they have intended to make Cubone and Marowak unbreedable? Moreover, it makes perfect sense that, if they were going to make a mistake with the breeding rules, it would happen to a Pokémon whose relationship to gender is unusual – there’s no need to bring Cubone and Marowak into the picture to explain the slip-up with Nidorina and Nidoqueen, particularly as the two Pokémon have nothing to do with each other.