queenshulamit asks:

1. You mentioned you had one parent. Is that the usual state of affairs? Also, do Silphian children know who was pregnant with them?
2. Does surrogacy exist in Silphium?
3. Is there an activist movement for sex dysphoric Silphians? And child free Silphians?
4. Are there taboos about incidentally revealing sex? Like, say, complaining about menstrual cramps? Or saying something gave you a boner?

Also, why isn’t it a big deal to ensure that you have a spouse with right genitals for making a baby?

Silphians typically have two parents! Spouses marry young (usually by age 23 or 24) and have children quickly. While divorce among parents of minor children does exist in Silphium, it seems less common there than here– many of my friends’ parents are divorced on Earth, only a handful on Silphium. I think routine polyamory might help the situation. If your partner isn’t everything you hoped for but still a decent partner in childrearing, you can raise the children together, fall in love and (when your youngest child is in school) have sex with other people, and divorce when the children are grown.

Silphian children usually know who was pregnant with them; if nothing else, the fact that presumably that parent would then proceed to get pregnant with further children is a bit of a hint.

Surrogacy exists in Silphium and is far less marginal than it is on Earth. On Earth, people occasionally attempt to make surrogacy illegal or allow the surrogate to keep the baby in spite of her contract; on Silphium, neither is true.

There is an activist movement for infertile Silphians. The moderate end argues that people shouldn’t bully or mock others for being infertile, because they’ve suffered enough, and there should be government funding of infertility treatments. Some argue that you shouldn’t divorce your spouse just because they’re infertile. The idea that you can actually choose of your own free will not to have children is fairly extreme and occasionally accused of destroying civilization by Republicans. Activism for sex dysphoric Silphians is part of the drug legalization and harm reduction movements, and is mostly of the “well, putting them in prison isn’t going to help them get clean” variety.

There is a taboo about talking about menstruation except in fairly close relationships. I guess you could say that if you would be comfortable talking about sexual intercourse with a person, you’d probably be comfortable talking about biological sex with them. Yes, that means Tumblr is absolutely crowded with period cramp jokes. Because it’s taboo, jokes about people’s biological sex are common in comedies. Interestingly, there are multiple Silphian comedians who have been cast as both females and males.

The Silphian slang word equivalent to “boner” is sex-neutral.

Almost no one marries someone who hasn’t already been their lover; if you’re someone’s lover, you already know what shape their genitals are. There are some same-sex couples. Conservatives tend to disapprove of them, because you’re choosing to be infertile and you could just have same-sex sex outside of marriage. Liberals tend to be tolerant, because if someone would be a really good coparent for you and you have the money for a surrogate or a sperm donor, why delay childrearing until you find a coparent with the opposite genitals?

G asks:

Do the people who on earth would be *not* cis-by-default (so, trans or ‘strongly cis’) due to having sufficiently strong feelings about their own gender (to be clear, *gender*, not genitals, not gender role, not expression etc) exist on Silphium? I’d imagine it’s a struggle for them – are there any helpful movements etc?

What is the reason behind the sexual monogamy during childrearing years thing? Can your childrearing have breaks? Like, if I want to have children with say 10 years between them, would I have to be monogamous that whole time? And, on the other hand, if I thought I was done with having children and then some years later wanted another, could I ‘restart’? Do you have to have all your children with the same person?

I think it’s very likely that there’s not actually such a thing as a gender identity on Silphium. Gender identities are a thing that happens when the entirety of your society is gendered constantly for no reason holy fuck. In the absence of cultural ideas of gender, what would a gender identity even mean? An uncontrollable urge to run around telling people “I AM A THING SORT OF ASSOCIATED WITH THE MALE SEX BUT NOT NECESSARILY RELATED TO IT! ALSO THERE ARE PERSONALITY TRAITS RELATED TO IT BUT NOT NECESSARILY! IDK JUST USE THESE PRONOUNS FOR ME”?

On the other hand, I’m Silphian and I have a gender? Probably? I don’t know. Maybe it’s Earth germs.

Most people have all their children within a few years of each other, because it’s less hassle. There are fewer gaps in the primary caregiver’s career, and you don’t have to tell all your lovers twice that you can’t have sex with them. But it’s certainly possible to have two children and then decide ten years later you want a third; in that case, you’d stop being monogamous when the second child went to school, and start being monogamous again when you started trying to conceive the third.

It’s bizarre to think about not being sexually monogamous during childrearing! It’s really important to make sure that the spouses are concentrating their energy on their children, instead of on finding new sexual partners. You have your whole life to have sex, and you only have small children for a few years! Humans just naturally evolved to be sexually monogamous when there are small children in the house, that’s how we work. Earth has probably gone a bit far in expecting people to be sexually and romantically monogamous all the time, but there’s no sense in going too far on this sort of thing.

MugaSofer asks:

… if the Infamous Yam People of our Earth are any indication, Silphium had a lot more sex than we do, right? Like, vastly more sex?

>As a fantasy, it was healthy, but just like other harmful fantasies like rape and public sex, it had to be kept in fantasy.

Huh. Interesting. Silphium was against the more extreme end of kink, then?


>When did a friendship become an “emotional affair”?


Look, I didn’t invent the concept of emotional affair. It’s your stupid dimension, you explain it.

Silphian sex education seems remarkably kink-positive to me compared to Earth sex ed. It teaches that it’s okay to fantasize about whatever you want, but some fantasies are not okay to put into practice. Using sex hormones is illegal (unless you have a prescription, and gender dysphoria is not a recognized condition), and illegal things are obviously not going to be recommended by sex ed. Silphians are more horrified by hormonal transition than Earthlings, because it is voluntarily destroying your ability to reproduce. Hormonal transition is regularly used as an example of things you can’t validly consent to (the way that voluntary cannibalism is in conversations on Earth). They’re much, much less bothered by, say, masochism that leaves scars.

I mean, the biggest thing that sex ed talks about leaving in fantasy is any exchange of fluids (including oral sex and manual sex) without barrier protection outside of marriage. Most people are pretty strict about that. We all know someone who has HIV, and even with modern medication it’s not a way you want to live. But that’s not BDSM! In fact, that has sort of led to a push for more BDSM– sex you can have without necessarily using a barrier.

I have had about the same rate of new sexual partners before and after Silphium, but I was a little above average in Silphium and I am mind-bogglingly promiscuous here. I am less certain about sex. It seems plausible to me that Earth people have more sex with their spouses than Silphians do, and thus Silphians don’t actually have as much sex as might be implied by our partner counts. On the other hand, the Coolidge Effect is a thing.

Alex Godofsky says:

On Silphium, which professions (if any) are disproportionately male or female? (I recognize the practical difficulties in collecting this data, given the sensitive personal nature of the information.)

On Silphium, is there a pay disparity between men and women?

On Silphium, if such studies were performed and found significant disparities, what social or legal responses (if any) would be appropriate?

Oh, gosh, I don’t know! I mean, would you know off the top of your head which Earth fields are dominated by blue-eyed people? Or whether there was a blue-eyed/brown-eyed wage gap? (I mean, there probably is, because racism, but you know what I mean.) I mean, I can make basic assumptions– firefighters are mostly male, surrogates universally female– but I don’t know anything more complicated than that.

Silphian research into human sex differences is a somewhat boring and obscure field. The news coverage of sex differences is similar to how research about, say, height is presented on Earth. I imagine the idea of social remedies for disparities between different sexes would be laughable.

LTP asks:

So on silphium, does pretty much everybody who wants to have sex having sex? Is there anything comparable to the large population of people on Earth whom one might call “involuntary celibate” or “late-bloomers”?

Unfortunately, no one’s solved the problem of involuntary celibacy on Silphium either, but I think the situation is generally a lot better, for a couple of reasons.

Things are a lot easier for shy people, especially shy males, because there’s no expectation that one gender does all the initiating. But if you’re in a social group where everyone is shy, it’s perfectly possible that everyone is constantly having crushes on each other and refusing to initiate anything.

Sex work on Silphium is completely legalized and destigmatized. It’s out of the price range of teenagers, but once you’re an adult it’s pretty normal to hire an escort. I’d actually planned on becoming an escort once I graduated high school. My parents encouraged me, since I was planning to become my children’s primary caregiver, so I might as well wait to go to college until they were at school. Unfortunately, sex work doesn’t do a lot for people’s desire for romantic relationships, which is often just as powerful as their desire for sex.

Having lovers helps; there are a lot of people you wouldn’t be willing to have as your one and only, but that you’d like to hang out with occasionally. And, hey, sometimes it turns out that once you’ve given them a shot they’re really cool and you want to be their spouse!

But ultimately the problem is, a lot of times, that there are people other people are mostly not attracted to, and that is very very hard to fix.

Lambert asks:

Given Ozy’s and Eliezer’s posts, I propose that our reality be named BDSM universe.

Hey! Silphium is totally accepting of BDSM. It is not accepting of choosing to become infertile.

Actually, Earth is really weirdly prudish about sex. Sex clubs get in legal trouble! How bizarre is that? In Silphium you had a couple in every city to cater to different tastes.