The world and people of Wrath of Trees are annoying me more and more, so thought I'd annoy you some, too.
The main intelligent species of Kono is sexually dimorphic. Rather a lot: men average 6' tall and wiry, with colorful wattles; women average 4' tall and rather plump, but with plainer coloration. Sex roles are quite distinct, too, and in almost-familiar ways: e.g., reading and writing are female things; most physical jobs are male things.
Also, women have an estrous cycle. They compare being on heat to being hungry: they want satisfaction, and they're certainly easier to seduce than at other times, but heat doesn't override intelligence or free will or conscience or common sense. Estrous women are not (generally) slutty, either by their standards or by the reader's, and the book isn't a parade of sexual adventures. (I'm not Jack Chalker.) I do plan to explore what this does to social institutions, and of course it will be relevant for some plots; it's an integral part of Kono culture.
Now, RL, I'm as egalitarian as possible under the circumstances -- yeah, I work days and my wife takes care of Rhys days, but that wasn't inevitable. I'm vaguely gender dysphoric. I'd really hate being either gender on Kono. Some authors' treatments of sexual dimorphism annoy me in ways that seem to reflect badly on the author -- Larry Niven's races with nonsentient females, for one.
And philosophically it shouldn't bother me, the way I'm doing it. There is certainly "men's work" and "women's work" on Kono, but by having intellectual and administrative stuff on the female side -- and by some of consequences of the estrous cycle -- neither sex dominates the other to the degree that, say, human men dominate human women in most human cultures.
Now, to some extent it is good that I find it disturbing. Melyl, the narrator, isn't that kind of girl -- she's not even in the same phylum. She has an outsider's perspective on Kono society. She doesn't like it very much. Admittedly, for different reasons, but it's probably helpful for writing if our opinions are similar.
Anyways, what do you think about sexual dimorphism, estrous cycles, and the real-life politics thereof?
Does sexual dimorphism of this degree upset you conceptually? (0=Not a bit, 5 = A whole lot)
Does sexual dimorphism of this degree in a novel seem biologically ridiculous? (0=It seems reasonable, 5 = it seems insane)
Does sexual dimorphism of this degree in a novel annoy you politically or philosophically? (0=Not a bit, 5 = A whole lot)
Does women having an estrous cycle upset you conceptually? (0=Not a bit, 5 = A whole lot)
Does women having an estrous cycle of this degree in a novel seem biologically ridiculous? (0=It seems reasonable, 5 = it seems insane)
Does women having an estrous cycle of this degree in a novel annoy you politically or philosophically? (0=Not a bit, 5 = A whole lot)
Does it sound, from this description, that the story is trying to reflect on real-world sexual politics or dynamics or stuff? (0 = Not a bit; 5 = a whole lot)
Does this make you more or less interested in the story and/or setting? (-5 = much less interested; 0 = no change; +5 = much more interested)