In her philosophical treatise Zelchútina-La
argued that, even in the absence of sexes, the Lilitai appeared to manifest distinctive gender roles. Exactly how well her observations aligned with what Holocene gender theorists study has been something of an ongoing debate, but nevertheless the Lilitai have at times treated these distinctions as invariable as physical sex. Notably, however, none of them are necessarily absolute or mutually exclusive, creating quite a bit of diversity.
There are four stereotypes in the gender system; usually a Lilitu will have one major role with which she identifies and perhaps an additional minor one. Because of the way in which they are defined, it is unusual to find someone who does not feel strongly about any of the four directions. Each type is associated with a portion of the colour spectrum which has been assigned emotional meanings appropriate to that gender; see the dictionary category for colours
The Lilitai also generally feel strongly that only certain combinations of gender function well in relationships, and that each relationship must have a polarity
, whereby one member thereof pursues the other, and typically has been responsible for initiating the affair. The canonical relationships are Múnildasa pursuing Stíldasa or Shúthildasa (scientist pursuing theoretician or manager), and Stíldasa pursuing Tshildasa (artist pursuing performer.) Less common but also accepted relationships are Múnildasa pursuing Tshildasa (scientist pursing performer), Shúthildasa pursuing Múnildasa (manager pursuing scientist), Tshildasa approaching Stíldasa (performer pursuing artist), and similar reciprocation between Stíldasa and Shúthildasa (artist pursuing manager or vice versa.) This leaves only the approach of Múnildasa by Stíldasa or Tshildasa (scientist pursued by artist or performer) as being considered particularly unusual. Same-gender relationships are considered a sign of insecurity, and generally frowned upon.
The genders are defined in part by their attitude towards personal autonomy. Múnildasa have the most control (it is considered socially inappropriate to solicit the attention of one) and Tshildasa have the least (they rarely initiate relationships and are more frequently the targets of sexual objectification, unwanted or otherwise.) Stíldasa generally have less autonomy in this regard than Shúthildasa, being generally less responsible personally and subject to much critique for their ideas.
Tshildasa: the performers
The rarest of the genders but easily the most visible, a typical Tshilda dresses in flowy, ceremonial, and fashionable clothing. She typically works with one or more Stílda artists and constantly lives in a world of aesthetics, where form and message take precedence over function. The Tshildasa descended intellectually from the Fertinenivíasa
, and still bear many stigmas of their ancestors' early difficulties with adapting to normal life. Unlike the other genders, they do not restrict themselves to any particular region of the colour palette, and are typically tall and willowy, with long, ornate hair. Tshildasa are stereotyped as being narcissistic, flighty, melodramatic, and submissive, but also captivatingly graceful and wise to natural balances of form and function.
Stíldasa: the idea manipulators
A Stílda is characterised as someone who prefers to think about things rather than face the material world. Often a Stílda will have a bias toward either the Tshilda role or the Shúthilda role, and this will determine whether she spends that energy on artistic endeavours or more practical affairs. Storytellers, painters, and great problem-solvers are frequently Stíldasa. Stílda typically have long, messy hair, are of average height and slightly sedentary physique, and favour colours ranging from indigo to fuchsia on the colour spectrum. Stíldaní clothing is generally modest, but may show hints of artistic flair if appropriate to the individual's interests. Stereotypically they are quiet and observant, but also very unreliable and prone to approval-seeking behaviour.
Múnildasa: the world manipulators
Múnildasa typically see themselves as having already gone through all of the travailements of mental work in their childhoods, and now bearing a keen interest in making things actually happen rather than just talking about them. They prefer to deal with concrete matters, and make excellent scientists and engineers. They are the least likely to be demotivated by the idea of manual labour, although that concept has usually been foreign to the Lilitai since obtaining their independence. Generally Múnildasa are out of touch with the artistic world, and so dress in a light, sterile, and efficient manner, with short or bound hair, and a clothing palette ranging from green to blue. They can be of any height and so are usually characterised as 'average', but view their bodies as responsibilities and so avoid getting out of shape. Múnildasa are seen as rigourous, nurturing, quick-learning, and adventurous, but may sometimes be a little blunt. They get along well with Lyrisclensiae
; sometimes better than they do with other Lilitai.
Shúthildasa: the inspirers
Shúthildasa are the most common gender, a result of Ksreskézaian influence. From a distant vantage point some might consider that they are in some ways redundant with Tshildasa, as both motivate society to push forward and carry on, but they are polar opposites in personality. Shúthildasa generally take up leadership and managerial roles, and expend a great deal of energy remaining professional and cordial as much as possible. Everything about the stereotypical Shúthilda is slightly severe: short or bound hair, a fiery favoured spectrum, and a protective, pragmatic, dominant attitude. They may even be slightly muscular in physique, which is very rare amongst the slender and predominantly vegan Lilitai, although they are usually shorter than the Múnildasa and Stíldasa they often oversee. A Shúthilda is not afraid to get her hands dirty with either intellectual problem-solving or manual labour, but she is usually irritated because she would be more at home thinking strategically and working to motivate other, more specialized individuals to do those jobs instead.
The details of these roles do not always hold firm. Notably, Gleméa il Lilitina
, the first matriarch and a close friend of Sarthía, did not like the stratification of Lilitic society with what she felt was unnecessary labelling. Hence, despite being easily classified as a very stereotypical Shúthilda, she continued to flaunt a very full head of messy pink-coloured hair until her death.
Sarthía's taxonomy of commonalities
Amongst its many commandments for how the genders should function and interact, Zelchútina-La
included a table of innate experiences that were shared by the different genders. This, she proposed, was the key to understanding them.
|Stíldai ||Múnildai ||Tshildai ||Shúthildai ||Attribute|
|* || || || ||Felozí Illina (foreign ideas)|
| ||* || || ||Ítossa (the cosmos); Vendústebekía (foundation-building)|
|* ||* || || ||Mizhanekía (invention)|
| || ||* || ||Ahekía (transformation)|
|* || ||* || ||Mota (aesthetics); Sarvía (narrative)|
| ||* ||* || ||Alísogekía il Shúthimai (risk-taking/wind-chasing)|
|* ||* ||* || ||Sarekía (doing/making)|
| || || ||* ||Rezarina (responsibility)|
|* || || ||* ||Kelí Shistoai (great dreams)|
| ||* || ||* ||Manazekína (decisions)|
|* ||* || ||* ||Zígendalai (problem-solving)|
| || ||* ||* ||Zelossekía (sacrifice); Kelopekía (inspiration)|
|* || ||* ||* ||Alefínanekía (persuasion)|
| ||* ||* ||* ||Tetekía (experience)|
|* ||* ||* ||* ||Litréa (society); Zellika (natural truth); Zeyeta (balance)|
Alignment with human genders
carry forth the traditional gender system as found on Earth: in the majority of their cultures, it is feminine to be elegant and emotionally analytical, and masculine to be direct and to rely on emotional intuition (although this is scarcely noticeable compared to the vast gulf that is the Terran gender system.) Masculinity is also often associated with greater propriety over one's identity and body, though not as exclusively as it was on Holocene Earth. In these terms, the Lilitai generally exhibit a feminine character, with the Múnildasa being slightly more masculine and the Tshildasa being more prominently feminine. As there is generally no attempt to socialize a young Lilitu to one role or another, pronounced features toward one pole or the other are generally rare.
There are many accounts by the early Thessian Lilitai of their opinions of the gender models of other human species. Some relate disgust at the subtle ways in which the first Telai to land on Thet seemed to be biased towards the leadership of men; others disagree, and conclude the women had the real power; yet others, generally anonymous, admit to wishing for greater bias of one side or the other. For a century or two, cross-cultural studies became very popular in the academic institutions of the Doisseia valley, often pivoting around synthesizing a mutual understanding of the nature of sex. It is from these research programs that the Lilitai discovered and studied the Terran corpus of gender studies, and in their crucible the first egrekeloi