"The sexual instinct will be eradicated. Procreation will be an annual formality like the renewal of a ration card. We shall abolish the orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now."
One of the most obvious ways for writers to create a Dystopian
setting is to remove those things which are most pleasurable to us in Real Life
. In the same vein, one of the most obvious ways to create a Utopian
setting is to remove those things which cause us the most pain and suffering. How do you really Mind Screw
the audience? By removing that which is both our greatest pleasure and
our greatest pain and suffering. In the design plans for both dystopias
and deconstructed utopias
, sex is the first thing to go.
This is a predominantly literary trope. The authors using the deconstructed utopia could be trying to show that achieving what at the first glance seems to be a perfect society necessarily leads to loss of humanity of its members
In settings Twenty Minutes into the Future
, sex can be outlawed entirely, while chemical castration drugs already exist to abolish sexual desire; humans would reproduce by growing embryos in People Jars
(see Uterine Replicator
). Some Transhumanist dystopias can also use genetic engineering to modify humanity as incapable of sexual desire.
The hero, who decides that My Species Doth Protest Too Much
, is most likely to discover both What Is This Thing You Call Love?
and Death by Sex
. This is the unstated reason why writers have these societies use drugs to suppress sexual urges in the populace, rather than surgery: drugs, unlike sterilization, can wear off.
Not to be confused with the horrible song of the same name
from the audition round of American Idol
A type of Dystopian Edict
. When this affects only a few individuals, it's Can't Have Sex, Ever
. When this is merely an aspect of the show's writing, it's No Hugging, No Kissing
. The opposite is Free-Love Future
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Anime and Manga
- Elites of Ai no Kusabi are forbidden to engage in any sexual activities whatsoever other than voyeurism.
- In Appleseed the movie, the Elders state that they have suppressed the reproductive functions of the Bioroids, to which Hitomi clarifies: "In other words, no sex". The reproductive and regenerative functions of the Bioroids are restored in the course of the movie, but it's unclear whether they still have fully developed sexuality — new Bioroids are still made in a factory in the sequel.
- However it should be noted that in the manga, Hitomi has a possibly human boyfriend. It's unclear whether Yoshi is a human or bioroid. In the manga the grand majority of the city's population consists of clones, cyborgs and other exotic types, but there is no reference to a class system or population control as explained in the movie.
- A mutiny ensues in Martian Successor Nadesico over a clause in Nergal's contract which stipulates that the members of the crew aren't allowed to do anything more sexual than hold hands, as Mr. Prospector points out "The Nadesico doesn't have a daycare center."
- In Pom Poko an elder tanuki attempts to apply this trope to the tanuki population to limit the population (due to an impending food storage). It works only for a while.
- The male Zentradi and female Meltrandi in Super Dimension Fortress Macross are segregated, with a mild antipathy generated between them, to prevent any procreation not under control of, originally, the Protocultures and later on the Zentradi fleet commanders. The movie goes further, portraying the two as being at war, and so uninterested in any case in... intimate matters.
- One of the time periods visited by the protagonist of Apollo's Song is a dystopian future where sex has been abolished and the world is ruled over by a cruel Artificial Human race who reproduce through cloning.
- When John Byrne rebooted the Superman continuity with the Man of Steel mini-series following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, he made Krypton an emotionally sterile society where sex was regarded as an animal act and all children were conceived in 'birthing matrixes'.
- The Island has a "proximity rule" designed to keep males and females apart. I guess they don't want clones reproducing real people. What did they expect with Scarlett Johansson around??
- Demolition Man: At first, it appears that sex is common and taken lightly, judging by how casually Sandra Bullock's character offers herself. It turns out that "sex" only means virtual computer-generated pornography, as the real thing has been outlawed because of the "dangers of fluid exchange" (e.g. HIV and illegitmate children; in fact, Bullock names two different STD outbreaks involving completely new diseases after HIV was presumably done away with).
- On the other hand John seems to consider their version of sex disturbingly intense rather than lacking in some way.
- How about the fact that KISSING or even touching is frowned upon, if not down right illegal
- A Polish science fiction film called (in English) The Sex Mission features a future society consisting entirely of parthenogenically reproducing women for whom men ("phallocrats") are only a bad memory (at least according to the ultra-feminist propaganda of the Sisters in charge). Two male time-travelers remind some of the women that not everyone with external genitalia was a monster.
- The B-movie Sumuru (South Africa/UK 2003, based on a novel by some hack called Sax Rohmer) has a similar plot. Starring Michael Shanks of Stargate SG-1 fame as the male protagonist from the past. He ends up in the future and on a former Earth colony in space where women rule, living in an utopian city, and the remaining men work in the mines. The sexes only interact when the women select a male inseminator to father fresh babies, like the mythical Greek amazons are said to have done. Not exactly No Sex Allowed so much as "no hetero fraternization allowed between the genders".
- The society of Libria from Equilibrium has outlawed all human emotion in an effort to stop another disastrous war from coming to pass. Including love.
- Although sex for reproduction purposes still works normally.
- Cleric Preston even had a wife. Although, why, since love was forbidden?
- Word of God is that the dystopia hadn't existed for more than a few decades at this point and many holdovers still existed because tradition was outlasting the lack of emotion; marriage is an institution and thus, does not vanish overnight even if the personal reasons for it do. This is also why DuPont wears a suit and tie, because men in positions of professional authority are expected to. Had the society lasted for another fifty years, one of DuPont's successors would likely be dressed no different than the crowds of civilians shown in several shots.
- THX 1138 takes place in an After the End setting where sex and natural pregnancies are outlawed, to keep the population stable. Reproduction occurs by production of babies in Uterine Replicator; children are raised by the State and robot teachers without knowing their parents. There is only a vague recognition that humans come in male and female. Everyone is mandated by law to take their daily drug rations to repress sexual drive. A few scattered people (mostly women who demand to experience motherhood) rebel against the system from time to time, but anyone not fitting in is considered deviant and a danger to the smooth operation of the city and is either brainwashed or executed.
- In Barbarella, Barbarella is rescued by a native of the planet she's on. When he asks that she make love with him in payment for the clothes and transportation he's providing, she describes some kind of ritual involving computers and pills. "Make love? But no one's done that for centuries!" The pill-based intercourse still provides an orgasmic response, though Barbarella finds she likes the old-fashioned version better.
- Sexual behavior by apes is evidently regulated in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, as the intelligent chimpanzee Caesar has his first sexual encounter when a request for "superior males" is issued and he's brought to a breeding facility. Presumably, "inferior males" of the three ape species aren't permitted to mate.
- The Jedi Knights of Star Wars aren't allowed to have attachments of any kind like a kind of warrior monk or historical knight templar. Children strong in the force are found and chosen to join. Note that sex is just fine; it's procreation and love that's the problem. Not that we have example of passionless sex in films; expanded universe rather show that Jedi like Obi-Wan had crushes, but refrained from having sex because they didn't want to let this error go too far. In the EU Luke's new Jedi Order averts this, and Jedi can now make love have families in the order.
- In The Goodness Gene, children are created artificially in petri dishes; babies with 'undesirable' traits are quite literally shredded to bits while in the embryo state; also, there is what some call "simulation sex".
- 1984: For Party members, the only acceptable devotion is to Big Brother. Casual and romantic sex are outlawed, with the only time sex is 'accepted' is when it is necessary for procreation, and you're not supposed to enjoy it. One of The Party's prominent youth movements is the Junior Anti-Sex League, who want all reproduction done by artificial insemination. (Of course, the very sexual Julia uses membership in the JASL as a cover.) This adds to the general interpretation where Party members, who are constantly under surveillance and forbidden to express subversive desires, are in a much worse Fate Worse Than Death, compared to the Proles who are allowed freedoms such as porn access and prostitution because the Party sees them as animalistic and Apathetic Citizens.
- And the female orgasm is especially subversive.
- The banning and hatred of sexuality could be useful to the Party for the purpose of inducing sexual frustration, which results in war hysteria and obsessive loyalty.
- In The Giver, people are given pills to stop sex drives, or "stirrings," from the start of puberty. (Platonic) marriages and families still exist, but the children are assigned to parents by the government, which has Birthmothers as a special profession. They undergo artificial insemination, as described in Son.
- Ayn Rand's Anthem.
- Zamyatin's We. All members of the society in We were issued tickets to be redeemed for sex with members of the opposite gender; the ticket allotment was based on hormone levels in each person's bloodstream. The fifteen minutes allotted for the use of each coupon was the only time in the day when the people involved were allowed to drop curtains on all four walls of their bedrooms and have some privacy, as the buildings in We were made of glass. One of the signs that society is breaking down fast in the later part of the book is when the narrator describes entire buildings with virtually every single room's curtains down...
- Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut: Body-numbing pills, originally designed to keep monkeys from behaving in an unseemly fashion in front of visiting schoolchildren and grandmothers, have become compulsory to stop people from having sex.
- An inversion: Brave New World makes most of its members sterile and healthy, thus unrestricted, noncommittal sex is accepted and even encouraged with "orgy-porgies". In the end, however, it sends a similar message as No Sex Allowed does, due to the fact that being monogamous or emotionally attached is considered undesirable: the "utopia" has sacrificed human intimacy and emotion such as "True Love" for mechanical order and guaranteed but shallow biological pleasures.
- The alternate interpretation, encouraged by the author's note, is that this world is a dystopia, and allowing free sex is a way to distract people from complaining against the power.
- Joe Haldeman's The Forever War has a traveler stumble upon a future Earth where, due to massive overpopulation, heterosexual contact and sex is entirely outlawed and considered lewd. Homosexual relationships are considered clean and normal, and the occasional reproduction occurs by artificial insemination. The heterosexual male time-traveler runs into problems with his preconceived notions of decency.
- In the science fiction novel Ethan of Athos (part of the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold), the planet of Athos is populated entirely by men who reproduce by using eggs from frozen ovary tissue cultures and grow the babies in artificial wombs. The planet was originally settled centuries ago by an ultra-religious sect of zealot monks. The sect's founder believed that women were unclean, so he sought to found a sanctuary where no women were ever allowed to set foot, and this then blossomed into full-blown paranoia and superstitious fear about women. In the present, off-world literature written by women is censored, only men considered morally stable are allowed to read scientific articles written by women for fear they might be infected with this madness, and few Athosians leave their planet.
- While the founders apparently intended "no women" to lead to "no sex", that is... not really how it's worked out.
- The world known as Beta Colony in the same series is arguably an inversion. Sex in just about any form aside from rape is permitted and indeed encouraged - they have even worked out a whole set of codes concerning availability and preferences, displayed to the world by wearing distinct styles of earrings, to get the guessing games out of the way. It is reproduction that is regulated in a downright draconian manner, via the implanting of mandatory contraceptive implants at puberty. Anyone wishing to reproduce requires Government approval to get the implants temporarily disabled; obtaining a permit for a first child can be roughly equated to getting a driver's license (a fairly rigorous process, but easily successful by anyone who puts in a bit of effort), a second child permit is harder than for the first, and third children are extremely rare. The no-reproduction-without-governmental-consent rules come not from any moral or religious principles, but from pure pragmatism: Beta Colony just doesn't have enough room to allow complete freedom of reproductive choice.
- A Boy and His Tank by Leo Frankowski involves an ethnic group which is forced to live on a planet that is very, very low on organic molecules. For this reason, the sexes are segregated.
- Breath's a Ware That Will Not Keep by Thomas F. Monteleone. Children are produced by giant amoeba-like creatures who live in vats. Men and women have sex by hooking their brains up to a machine that amplifies and echoes their arousal back to each other; touching is forbidden.
- The theocratic government of The Handmaid's Tale doesn't ban sex but does put very strict rules and regulations in place around it. Women must wear clothing that covers them completely and de-emphasises the hips and breasts. Fertile women have sex exactly once a month with the head of their household for the purpose of conceiving children. Unmarried men are permitted no contact with women. Homosexuality is illegal. People who break these rules are publicly executed.
- The excuse given for all this was ultraconservative backlash against a ridiculously uberliberal society, which included "Feels On Wheels" prostitute delivery (and possibly other end-of-Cerebus the Aardvark-levels of depravity); given that this is what the government in place tells the populace, it should be taken with a pillar of salt.
- The extravagantly dystopian totalitarian regime of the People's Republic of Daros in the Spaceforce novels forbids personal relationships.
- In James Tiptree, Jr's Houston, Houston Do You Read? astronauts find themselves in a male-less world where all reproduction is done via cloning—-plenty of sex, though. Unlike Queen of Outer Space or Fire Maidens of Outer Space or The Time Travellers, the women seem quite happy with how things have worked out, though they don't mind taking some semen samples for back-up. Note that Tiptree was lauded for "his" keen insight into what women really felt.
- The Doctor Who Expanded Universe tried to make the Doctor's asexuality canon in Lungbarrow, where it's revealed that an ancient Gallifreyan witch named Pythia cursed the Time Lords to sterility, and children are assembled in genetic "looms." Russell T Davies has spent the past few years of the new series finding subtle ways to dance all over this trope with hobnailed boots.
- In Chalker's Well World novels, many of the Comworlds have taken this approach, artificially suppressing the onset of puberty in the majority of their populace.
- Apparently the case with the "silver elf" aliens from Angry Lead Skies, whose reproductive systems are underdeveloped in females and shriveled in males.
- In the Matched trilogy, the lower classes (Aberrations and Anomalies) of the Society (land of Bureaucratically Arranged Marriages) are not allowed to marry or have children, and since the Government Drug Enforcement regimen apparently does not include birth control, there's only one conclusion to draw.
- In John C. Wright's The Hermetic Millennia, the Chimarae and Blue Men allowed reproductive only sex, under strict control; the Hormagaunts had the reproduction done artificially. There were also the Nymphs, who by dint of drugs and bioenhancement were all Extreme Omnisexuals, with the effect of making no relationships special; however, despite this, the other cultures note similarities between Nymph-talk and talk of brotherhood.
- In the Darksword Cycle, the Magocracy of the magical world of Thimhallan has forbidden sex of any kind. Procreation is done through magic, where a specialized druid places the seed of a man within the womb of a woman. The reason for this is that the people of Thimhallan see the act of sex as barbaric and animalistic.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: One episode features a planet of clones and a very forced reproductive rights analogy. It seems to be used both to distance people from their "animal natures" and as a way to minimize bonding and loyalty to other people.
- Then there are the Star Trek aliens that have a No Sex Allowed policy with regards to other species, like the Deltans (whose sex is so good it drives non-Deltans insane) and the J'naii (an androgynous race which holds "gender neutrality" sacrosanct, and sex with explicit males or females endangers that).
- The episode "Up the Long Ladder" had a situation where a crashed colony ship had only five survivors and not a large enough gene pool to produce a healthy society, so they relied on cloning and banned sex to prevent inbreeding. 300 years later, their cloned descendants now find the idea of sex somewhat repulsive.
- If they're all clones that's probably still a valid response since there's still only five different base codes. Inbreeding's a problem even when there's lots of people if they're all clones.
- Elements of Welcome to the Monkey House (see above) briefly appear in the Vonnegut pastiche/tribute From Time To Timbuktu, which was broadcast on PBS in the early 1970s.
- During the brief proliferation in the late nineties-early thousands of one-hour sci-fi story series in the style of Twilight Zone and so on, there was episode of such a show where, again, while the future allowed sex, and there were men around, all the men were sterile. This inability to conceive somehow robbed women of any and all pleasure from sex, and relegated men to being treated like not-very-useful sex toys and not mentioned otherwise, with women dismissing them contemptuously and sitting around to gossip over old sex stories of kinky naughtiness they didn't really understand. Then a fertile male shows up and suddenly all the women want him because his ability to fill them with babies makes the sex ridiculously good. One hardly knows where to start on the massive amount of sexism this heaps on BOTH sides.
- In the tabletop RPG Paranoia, all humans are cloned and grown in vats. The sheer amount of drugs that fills most human's diets is mind-boggling, really, and includes much to discourage hanky-panky. There's not even any significant difference between genders. However, when teams of Troubleshooters go on missions that take them out of Alpha Complex and away from their precious drugs, the hormones can come flooding back in an instant...
- Of course, one of the secret societies (the Earth Mothers) is explicitly opposed to this, and is one of the few societies that more-or-less know what it's doing, making them rather powerful.
- And if you survive long enough to get to Ultraviolet clearance... well, one of the perks is learning more about the Old Reckoning, which includes all the trouble Old Reckoning people went through to get some action... Long story short, High Programmers tend to maintain personal harems.
- Spanners of Continuum are banned by the Decision of the Second Atlantean Council from having children with another spanner. Sex itself isn't banned, but there a very real possibility of a spanner trying to 'get it on' and having a Midwife, Exalted, or even Inheritor knocking on the front door. Heterosexual sex with non-spanners is not as heavily discouraged, but can gain a lot of frag or nasty events in the Yet.
- The werewolves of Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Werewolf: The Forsaken are prohibited from having procreative sex with each other, on threat of deformed, sterile offspring or deformed, evil, ghost child of Doom, respectively. Heterosexual sex tends to result in punishment even before any weird children are involved.
- On the other hand, sex with humans (and, in Apocalypse, wolves) is just fine. In Apocalypse, breeding with Kinfolk (humans or wolves with werewolf ancestors) is encouraged, as it produces new healthy werewolves.
- Abyssal Exalted exist solely to bring death to all that lives, and thus cannot do anything that would protect or create life without incurring the wrath of the Neverborn. Naturally, this includes procreative sex.
- Except with their Lunar Mate, because some things are stronger than the wrath of the Neverborn.
- The Dimension of Lame from Sluggy Freelance lacks many things that Torg loves (such as beer, sugar, pornography, or any TV stations besides PBS and Disney). We never get a definitive answer about sex, but we are shown you're not allowed to say "the S-E-X word."