Rhea Myers

Gender in “Bad Shibe”

Pronoun Day reminded me that I still haven’t written “Rise of the Shitlords”, which contains an explanation of why YS uses “they” as everyone’s pronouns in “Bad Shibe”.

Names in Post society/Shiberia/whatever you call YS’s world aren’t like ours in Pre/Fiat/whatever society. The older ones are more clearly gendered (Mom1) the newer ones are very deliberately gender free (UnoY). Like cats and altcoins, gendered language is a taboo in Bad Shibe.

The in-world reason for this is that Post society really, really, really hates anything that makes them think of state centralization. Like identity documents. As with everything in Post society this effect ran away with itself. The original revolutionaries, survivors, or whatever they were used social media login name style handles probably due to AreWeThereYet or some other software they used to organize themselves, and by the time they were having kids they were coming up with names that were as unique and information-free as possible for this system.

The kids know that the adults are different – YS describes the trader they encounter at the swapmeet as a “salesbro” – but they themselves are whoever and whatever they want/need/happen to be, free from having to fit into any fiat state identity category boxes (or tackle any parental disapproval for that matter). Just don’t expect anyone to use your pronouns.

There are three things in “Rise of The Shitlords” that indicate that this may all unravel as well and that, like the other features of Post society, it isn’t working as well for everyone as it might.

The first is a scene with Mom1 and some tobacco plants, the second is a dare at the orchard that continues the budding romance that YS didn’t realize they were in from the unedited version of “Bad Shibe” and that was cut to make the published version’s word count, and the third is the salesbro trying to explain to Mom1 and YS why they are so upset with a statue that is being unveiled near the end of the story.

Given everything above you might wonder why the titular “Shitlords” are so named. That has to do with the structurelessness of off-chain power in Post society. You might further wonder why all of this is in a story that is ostensibly about cryptocurrency.

Well it’s a story about what the world would be like if early cryptocurrency idealism had won, creating a society based on both its stated and contingent ideological entailments and aesthetics , for good and for ill. Mostly for good, but nobody would want to read it if it was any more than “mostly”.

Push anything far enough and it’s contradictions will emerge. Nothing ever died of contradictions. But it may start to smell funny.