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Space Marines and Sex

 Post subject: Space Marines and Sex
PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2016 2:02 am 
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First, No, get your mind outta the gutter, this is a family establishment! No, I'm talking about the actual biological definition of Sex in humans, and whether it's applicable to space marines in general. Can a space marine really be said to possess a "sex"? They are sterile by definition, and I'm pretty sure that the sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone are gone, replaced with artificial growth hormones. Do they keep the primary sex organs at all? Aka the gonads? So, they don't really have a sex, and even their Gender designation is arbitrary.

The other thing is, with all the work gene seed does, while I know it's canon and has been that space marines can only be recruited from males, well, that can't really be true. Even if there's some need for the Y chromosome to be present, there are plenty of women who naturally have XXY chromosomes, and many of them are functionally women(there have even been XXYs who have had children!), as well as men who have an extra X chromosome. So, scientifically, there's no reason why you couldn't use an XXY female as the basis for your space marine.

However, this doesn't really matter, as I mentioned in the first paragraph: Marines don't have sex hormones, and I've got my doubt if they have primary sex organs. The penis might still be there, but only because it houses the urethra, and it could even be, theoretically, removed or modified for nothing but it's urination purposes. Remember, men can grow breasts naturally if their estrogen levels get tooo high(this usualyl happens with the use of testosterone injections, the body naturally increases estrogen creation to balance the higher level of T, then when you stop injecting, you have very high levels of Estrogene, leading to man breasts, see Fight Club) as a result of estrogen treatments, so if the female recruit was no longer producign estrogen, he female sexual characteristics would fade. Simple biology, this is why pre-pubescent children of both sexes basically look the same: no sex hormones.

Then, in addition to that, you've got these artificial growth hormones that are fueling massive increases in bone and muscle mass, which would have the same effect on an xxy female: turning them into seven foot tall, massively muscled superhumans. You ever seen a female body builder or weight lifter who looks like a man? Well, yeah, that's because once you get to a certain level of mass and muscle tone, then you're all going to look pretty much the same. Also, no matter what you started looking like, by the time the transformation into a Space Marine is complete, you end up looking a lot like your primarch and battle brothers. Make sense of course: you're using a massive hack to rewrite the phenotype of a human, which is going to consequently override their existing phenotype to a large degree.

So, really, there could be female space marines, and nobody knows or cares, because they all look almost the same as each other, and all secondary sexual characteristics would have been overwritten as a result of the geneseed impanted in them. Even if the process is tied to the Y chromosome, as the Emperor told Malcador, there's still no reason why female space marines could be possible. However, it doesn't matter, because biologically space marines HAVE no sex, and their Gender definition is simply arbitrary. They're not "hes" their "its".

Now, when a space marine turns traitor, this opens up some interesting possibilities via mutation. It's actually not a bad recruiting slogan: "Join Chaos, Get Your Balls Back". Of course, once we get into CSMs, then all bets as to gender and sex go out the window. I mean, ultimately, a Traitor Marine can end up not even being a materiel, physical thing, anyway. I mean, sure Angron is a "he", but I don't think he even identifies on a human level anymore, what with being a Daemon Prince nowadays.


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 Post subject: Re: Space Marines and Sex
PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2016 9:53 am 
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warning, utter bullsh1t ahead:

I prefer to consider it within a game-universe context. That Space Marines are effectively sexless is a key part of the universe, they are at once hyper-masculine in a stereotyped sense (muscles, violence, leaders etc) but non-sexual. In 40k sex is evil and deeply repressed. The main characters (as sold) are marines – sexless. Imperial Guard in the fluff have legions of female fighters, but these are not visible in the model range. The only female dominated faction are space nuns sworn to chastity, so no sex there, just when the playerbase implies in a 'leather nuns' cliche.

The main area of sexual imagery in 40k is slaanesh, normally portrayed literally as demonic evil. The marines have to be sexless, because sex is evil. Some other xenos races (eldar, DE, tau) show some hints of sexual dimorphism in the model range, but it's limited. In general, 40k is a male dominated game setting played by a male dominated player base and is at once obsessed with being 'male' (warriors! muscles, warrr!) and denying sexuality in any sense but evil. Further, the stereotype of 40k players might be unkindly thought of as 'neckbeard mouth breathers' or 'awkward 13 yr olds' etc in popular culture, again, male but possibly sexually repressed. They can't actually sell a race of sexless or androgynous warriors, it would be harder to market, but they can make the next 'best' thing: overtly male warriors biologically sterilised and re-programmed.

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 Post subject: Re: Space Marines and Sex
PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2016 2:47 pm 
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Space Marines leaving little momma's babies around the galaxy just won't do. We'd end up having a race of half-human, half-superhumans wandering around causing all sort of trouble--as strong as a space marine, yet completely free of control. The Inquisition has spoken.

Perhaps some of the primarchs, before they were found by the Emperor, left some sons and daughters? I'm sure the Emperor would have flipped out if he knew that.

(My apologies if this was touched upon in the OP...I'm having trouble reading the screen at the moment)

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 Post subject: Re: Space Marines and Sex
PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2016 3:02 pm 
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Well the emperor in older fluff had plenty of little ones over his ~50k lifetime (granted the last 10k his ability to pick up on the ladies was minimal ;) ). I'd suspect that the general implications and vibe of the astartes is that the process effectively performs chemical castration. There's some fantastic discussions in the first Horus Heresy novel about the fact that many emotions are bread out or their reaction to experiencing them altered from human norms when experienced (fear and love being mentioned but it wouldn't surprise me if something like libido and lust were effected). Probably more to do with the silliness of the setting than any realistic attempt of rationale.

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 Post subject: Re: Space Marines and Sex
PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2016 3:08 pm 
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Urge, this will never end well.

Right, firstly there are no such thing as "sex hormones." Testosterone and estrogen are present in every human regardless of sex, even children have them, it's the relative levels of each that count.

Whether someone is male or female hinges on one essential factor, the sex determining region Y on the Y chromosome. This is a huge tract of different metabolic pathways that together regulate other pathways that result in sexual dimorphism in humans. This has a primary purpose of changing the Foetus from having undifferentiated gonads to definitive testes. If you lack SRY a different process takes place changing them into definitive ovaries. There are whole host of structures that are sex specific that develop further/wither away at this stage (notably the wolffian and mullerian structures) depending on sex. Hypothetically this gene sequence could be transferred to any chomosome and still work fine but that's a side note.

XXY Females lack the SRY genes so they are essentially 100% female bio-chemically. Indeed, unlike with XXY males, it's not even considered a genetic disorder in terms of deleterious effects on the individual. As I'm sure you can predict though, it can have an effect on later generations that are not so innocuous, such as Turner syndrome.

XXY males are a different kettle of fish altogether, with many biological problems associated with this configuration, but they are males due to the presence of SRY and thus testes. They are usually infertile and usually correspond to the male phenotype.

This concept is also why individuals with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome are male, regardless of phenotype. They present as female in every way physically but have testes and a somewhat overdeveloped wolffian system which females do not.

Intersex is almost always a phenotype issue caused by conflicting non sex genetic expression, it's usually quite easy to determine the sex in a purely genetic sense, and given the rarity of intersex in general not worth worrying about.

Getting back at the point at hand, of course there is a simple explanation for why only males can be Space Marines, the Emperor wanted it that way and simply no one else actually understands the concepts well enough to alter it from the process he set out. It's debatable whether or not the Emperor understood his own work full since he needed to pact with the chaos powers to create them.

I have my doubts that the Imperium would accept intersex people being in any position of power anyway, people seem to forget that Imperial society is terribly intolerant of the smallest signs of mutation.

Most importantly where is it mentioned that they are infertile anyway? I don't think they are fertile, and that seems to be the majority view, but I have never read anything that says one way or the other. If they are fertile then that would be more reason to maintain the Astartes as single sex, can't have post humans populating like rabbits.


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 Post subject: Re: Space Marines and Sex
PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2016 3:21 pm 
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You forgot your Stand Back, I'm Using Science picture. :)
But thanks for touching on the basis of sex (chromosomal) verses gender (morphology). Also your point about post humans breading is a good one for an in universe discussion (which Apoc and I are obviously trying to steer this towards -ha!).

I actually disagree that the imperium cares all that much about things like sexual orientation and gender issues. They don't care, IN THE MOST HORRIBLE WAY possible :) The galactic currency of the Imperium is pure raw resources, the most important being humans themselves.

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 Post subject: Re: Space Marines and Sex
PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2016 3:47 pm 
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Testosterone in a young human male is one thing that makes him so aggressive. Over 1/2 of the 112 soldiers in my Infantry Co. were 18-20 years old. As a Cdr you just have to channel that. Now all that being said, GW's logic in many cases ... well isn't "logical". If these SMs and SoBs were "real", I'd think if/when the opportunity presented itself ... Well I think we can figure out the results. Not to mention some Eldar Females would probably ... well fill the bill as well. ::)

To take that to another level, they all may be unable to conceive by the genetic manipulation, by accident or purposely. And even if did occur crossbreeding between humans and say Eldar many not be possible. Again because of genetic differences.

In reality today in the US military there is a "discussion" about putting females into combat arms units. Combat Arms : Infantry, Tanks, CEs, tube FA and ADA ... The rub there besides the obvious interaction between the sexes which usually follows among young males & females. Generally the overwhelming majority of females don't have the strength, size, or aggressiveness to be in Combat Arms units. Based on my experiences in the US ARMY Infantry, '79-'90 ...

BUT we're talking SF and GW SF, so again logic in many, many case is not a factor ... :whistle

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 Post subject: Re: Space Marines and Sex
PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2016 1:58 am 
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Legion 4 wrote:
Testosterone in a young human male is one thing that makes him so aggressive. Over 1/2 of the 112 soldiers in my Infantry Co. were 18-20 years old. As a Cdr you just have to channel that. Now all that being said, GW's logic in many cases ... well isn't "logical". If these SMs and SoBs were "real", I'd think if/when the opportunity presented itself ... Well I think we can figure out the results. Not to mention some Eldar Females would probably ... well fill the bill as well. ::)

To take that to another level, they all may be unable to conceive by the genetic manipulation, by accident or purposely. And even if did occur crossbreeding between humans and say Eldar many not be possible. Again because of genetic differences.

In reality today in the US military there is a "discussion" about putting females into combat arms units. Combat Arms : Infantry, Tanks, CEs, tube FA and ADA ... The rub there besides the obvious interaction between the sexes which usually follows among young males & females. Generally the overwhelming majority of females don't have the strength, size, or aggressiveness to be in Combat Arms units. Based on my experiences in the US ARMY Infantry, '79-'90 ...

BUT we're talking SF and GW SF, so again logic in many, many case is not a factor ... :whistle


We'll, I'm of the opinion that someone has to save the Fluff from GW, before all is erased in adulation for the Asartes. Don't get me wrong, I *like* Space Marines, but I like them to have some depth, rather than being mary sues. Compare Uriel from the Ultra Marines Omnibus to... that Gray Knight from the GK omnibus. One was relatable and identifiable, despite being a super human, the other was just power fantasy drivel. Geez, those books were terrible. Terrible. Not Uriel's. the GKs.

I'm always amazed by most of the arguments against women in combat arms. I got a ranger buddy who is... well, let's just say he's "female sized", and he aced his physical reviews. But even then, there's the women of Chaval bn in isreal, who have been fighting light infantry for a decade or so. They manage to hack it. So there's a good reason to believe women in combat can work. Of course they're not going to be the same as men in those roles, but then that leads to a whole 'nother issue, that of: are the current physical requirements a good judge of suitability for infantry tasks?


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 Post subject: Re: Space Marines and Sex
PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:49 am 
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jimmyzimms wrote:
I actually disagree that the imperium cares all that much about things like sexual orientation and gender issues. They don't care, IN THE MOST HORRIBLE WAY possible :) The galactic currency of the Imperium is pure raw resources, the most important being humans themselves.


It's more that I imagine the imperium would view obviously intersex people as tainted my mutation and would use the old Chinese solution to the problem. I remember reading a bit of fluff where Polydactylism, even after corrective surgery, was enough to get a character in hot water with the state (I have no sources to hand to corroborate this but my BLIND FAITH tells me it's true!). An extra finger? Heresy. Ambiguous genitallia? Potentially double heresy.

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I'm always amazed by most of the arguments against women in combat arms. I got a ranger buddy who is... well, let's just say he's "female sized", and he aced his physical reviews. But even then, there's the women of Chaval bn in isreal, who have been fighting light infantry for a decade or so. They manage to hack it. So there's a good reason to believe women in combat can work. Of course they're not going to be the same as men in those roles, but then that leads to a whole 'nother issue, that of: are the current physical requirements a good judge of suitability for infantry tasks?


The big problem there with your "female sized" Ranger buddy is that males have a basal strength advantage of around 30% over females with the exact same body mass. This difference is exacerbated once you actually start excercising regularly. It doesn't really show up much in every day life but when you strap on: a helmet, body armour, rifle, ammo, a little food, lots of water, a radio or two and (for the sake of argument) maybe three spare batteries, it starts to. We're talking about a combat load that averages at the lower end 35kg. A GPMG gunner or an ECM guy can double that figure at times. I'm not saying these guys are grenadier effective but they can move in it when needed.

You're thinking about the Caracal Battalion and they are not exactly a bleeding edge Seryet by any, considerable, stretch of the imagination. They are a low threat border patrol force with Egypt, think USAF SFs or RAF Regiment patrolling Baghram Air Base rather than USMC Infantry patrolling the Sagin Valley. In their entire 11 years of existence the have been contacted by the enemy twice as far as I can recall and once was while carrying out a CIMIC task during the Gaza withdrawal. I have an Israeli mate that used to joke that a woman with an eye for combat would find more of it in the logistic corps. Not so much fighting as walking slowly along Israel's 2nd safest border. Their new sister unit has dibs on the safest one, that with Jordan. If I were to be uncharitable, and I will, I'd call them a propaganda battalion given that their military value is more psychological than kinetic.

I would actually like to see all roles open to women on principle and physical testing regimes changed throughout pretty much all western armed forces to be totally gender-neutral and task oriented. That would be great but it's politically unviable because the number of female personnel that would be lost doesn't bear thinking about and the zero percent basic level male failure rate would provide evidence of "sexism" for decades. Around one in one thousand female recruits can reach the lowest male physical standard (2.4k in 10:30. 44 pushups, 50 Sit ups) in the British Army by the time they leave phase 1 training versus essentially 100% of male recruits. After 5 years service this rises to just under one in one hundred. Infantry standards are both officially and unofficially higher and more complex but are still probably too low as it is. I can blame the British Army recruitment division though, they've been having retention problems at the end of a ten year recruitment shortfall.

Why do you find such arguments amazing?


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 Post subject: Re: Space Marines and Sex
PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2016 6:36 am 
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Sayrewolf wrote:
I would actually like to see all roles open to women on principle and physical testing regimes changed throughout pretty much all western armed forces to be totally gender-neutral and task oriented. That would be great but it's politically unviable because the number of female personnel that would be lost doesn't bear thinking about and the zero percent basic level male failure rate would provide evidence of "sexism" for decades. Around one in one thousand female recruits can reach the lowest male physical standard (2.4k in 10:30. 44 pushups, 50 Sit ups) in the British Army by the time they leave phase 1 training versus essentially 100% of male recruits. After 5 years service this rises to just under one in one hundred. Infantry standards are both officially and unofficially higher and more complex but are still probably too low as it is. I can blame the British Army recruitment division though, they've been having retention problems at the end of a ten year recruitment shortfall.

Why do you find such arguments amazing?


It's not just because the girls are gonna fail. Some of them, even most of them will. But some of them will pass the standards. Heck, we've had women pass the ranger course(though there's a TON of flak about it). We've had'em pass marine infantry, though none have passed marine officer training yet(Marine Officer training is supposedly pretty damn tough).

All of which is irrelevant if you take said recruit and completely rewrite their phenotype through implants. We can't do that yet.


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 Post subject: Re: Space Marines and Sex
PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2016 2:07 pm 
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I have to agree with much of what Sayrewolf has to say. All good points ...

I have a buddy that was Ranger qualified ... and he was smaller than most males but still a tough little mother $%$#! ... I'm not going to debate this in detail. My experiences in 10+ years as an Infantry Officer '79-'90. Served in 4 Infantry Bns, 1 Air Asslt & 3 Mech. Leading a Rifle PLT in the 101. And later a Mech Co. in a SEP Mech Bde of 18th XXX. All males of course. Plus in a CBT SPT Bn which was very much coed. Does give me a pretty good idea of what I speak ... I've notice on other sites like TMP. Many who have never served and the closest they have be to being in the Military, is war gaming. Some think they may know better than Vets on many military topics. Every one is entitled to an opinion, yes ?
With many years of Real World experience ... I usually say after a few rounds of "discussion" with, "But What Do I know ?!?!?" :o

BUT here's the bottom line ... this is Sci-fi ... Do What Works For You ... Not Me ... So if you want to have females in your SM toys soldier units ... Go for It ! :spin

I also at times make "fun" of guys and tease them about painting their AFVs, SMs, etc. in circus colors ... mine are in Tactical/Camo colors ... :P

BUT again Do What Works For You .. Not Me ... ^-^ These are TOY Soldiers ... not reality ...

And I'll end with ... again ... "But What Do I Know ?!?!? ::) 8)

Note: I use a lot of Smilies ;D ... Because we shouldn't take arguments about Sci-fi TOY soldier too seriously ... :whistle

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 Post subject: Re: Space Marines and Sex
PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:47 pm 
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Verjigorm wrote:
It's not just because the girls are gonna fail. Some of them, even most of them will. But some of them will pass the standards. Heck, we've had women pass the ranger course(though there's a TON of flak about it). We've had'em pass marine infantry, though none have passed marine officer training yet(Marine Officer training is supposedly pretty damn tough)..


It's not actually passing the selection that's the ultimate problem, it's the issue of operational biomechanical load. Way back when the British Army abolished the Women's Royal Army Corps they course loaded all the recruits into mixed gender units. Needless to say a number of otherwise promising officer cadets were rendered infertile after their pelvis' snapped under basic training loads, at that point a standard 25kg (now no more than 15kgs for females). That's why all training platoons are gender segregated these days. Training doesn't change this risk factor, since it's not a resilience or conditioning thing, and it can happen at ANY time. It's about as likely to happen as a second epileptic seizure in someone who had a one off childhood epileptic episode, with essentially the same effect on a units' military effectiveness, except only one of those groups are barred from any and all military service. It's a strange double standard, as is so much in gender politic.

Verjigorm wrote:
All of which is irrelevant if you take said recruit and completely rewrite their phenotype through implants. We can't do that yet.


You've got that right. I just go with the concept that all space marines are functionally entirely post-Human and so Male/Female probably don't apply even if the raw materials used conformed to those specs. Think Super Mutants in the Fallout universe. They might look male but that's just a biological efficiency thing. That's my personal head cannon at least, ignoring fluff that makes no sense to you is par for the course in 40k. You have to do it or you'd have a stroke with all the paradoxes. That's why Dan Abnett is my favourite 40k author. ;)

That said, if people are gonna ask why X is in the fluff, I'll give them a reasoned explanation for it.

As an infanteer I'm totally fine with female infantry in, lets just say, the Mass Effect universe, routine genetic combat modifications, superior training and servo assisted armour effectively equalise everything to the point that it just wouldn't matter. It makes sense in a totally consistent way with a valid in universe explanation.

But as L4 above always likes to say DWWFY. Lol.


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 Post subject: Re: Space Marines and Sex
PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2016 11:08 pm 
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Legion 4 wrote:
I also at times make "fun" of guys and tease them about painting their AFVs, SMs, etc. in circus colors ... mine are in Tactical/Camo colors ... :P


In one of the... I want to say Dark Heresy...? Eternal War...? RPG source books they effectively say that marine armour has an active camouflage outer layer and that chapter colours are simply the default setting, like a screen saver type of idea. I like that concept enough to roll with it.

Of course that's only really an issue when they are contributing to high tempo, high risk, conventional ops where being seen by something big and nasty means death. Their standard shock and awe surgical strike would actually probably be helped psychologically with lurid colours since there would be no doubt who you as the enemy were facing. It's a bit like that controversy back in the early 2000s when the USMC refused to allow the other services to use Marpatt because, and I'm pretty much quoting here, "we want the enemy to absolutely know they are facing Marines when they see Marines coming for them." Juries out on whether that defeats the point of camouflage or not.


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 Post subject: Re: Space Marines and Sex
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2016 12:12 am 
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Well, of course we shouldn't be too serious about toy soldiers. They're toy soldiers. Whenever we get too serious about this hobby, well, we're idiots. Except that time I threw a unit of chaos warriors of khorne into the parking lot and let them get run over. They deserved it. They know what they did.

But my bemusement with the "women arn't capable of serving in combat because of "x"" arguments is that they don't hold water. We've got women ranger school graduates now, and if women can hack ranger school, that means they have the right stuff. After-all, you can't pass ranger school if you don't pass your peer reviews, and the two west point Lady Rangers passed. I guess you could say that there was a conspiracy between the ranger school attendees to pass them, but.. well, there's no evidence of that.

Maybe more men are in better physical shape than women. I'm not entirely surprised by that: one, we have testosterone, which has proven muscle building properties, as well as building stronger bones. However, that said, there's also a cultural problem, in that young girls are not pushed into sports and other physically demanding hobbies or careers, and I think that might have something to do with it. Especially in the age bracket that military recruits are: teen-agers are some of the most insecure people ever, and they need to belong, desperately.

After-all, when we see a ripped body man, people say: "Wow, look at how strong he is! He's an example!", but with women who are ripped(Chyna for example) the response tends to be "She's a freak, nobody could be attracted to her!". This is changing, as body building and weight lifting is getting a lot more traction among young women, and there's a bit less stigma with it. But it's stresful: my former neighbor was a personal trainer, and his niece was getting into weightlifting, infact she was preparing for an olympic bid this year. But she mentioned how the pressure from her peers was ridiculous, because she was doing something that wasn't considered "girly", and it wasn't until her uncle started training her that she had the confidence to do what she wanted to do.

I think we see a mirrored effect when men get into "non manly" fields like cosmetics, fashion or the like. I know that some of my co-workers used to criticize my experience with flowers. Hey, it's not my fault: my mother was a single florist, and I was often at her job after school. This meant I learned all about the flower industry. I see this all the time in the construction industry.


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 Post subject: Re: Space Marines and Sex
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2016 12:22 am 
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Sayrewolf wrote:
Legion 4 wrote:
I also at times make "fun" of guys and tease them about painting their AFVs, SMs, etc. in circus colors ... mine are in Tactical/Camo colors ... :P


In one of the... I want to say Dark Heresy...? Eternal War...? RPG source books they effectively say that marine armour has an active camouflage outer layer and that chapter colours are simply the default setting, like a screen saver type of idea. I like that concept enough to roll with it.

Of course that's only really an issue when they are contributing to high tempo, high risk, conventional ops where being seen by something big and nasty means death. Their standard shock and awe surgical strike would actually probably be helped psychologically with lurid colours since there would be no doubt who you as the enemy were facing. It's a bit like that controversy back in the early 2000s when the USMC refused to allow the other services to use Marpatt because, and I'm pretty much quoting here, "we want the enemy to absolutely know they are facing Marines when they see Marines coming for them." Juries out on whether that defeats the point of camouflage or not.


One of my buddies shrugged about the camo's effectiveness, because he'd spent the better part of the invasion of Iraq dressed in a woodland camoflaged MOPP suit. And then the army adopted "multi-cam" which manages to be spectacular amazing at not blending into anything unless you're covered in mud.

I know I did paint my tau army in woodland camo back when I played 40k. I regretted it after I forgot about a pathfinder unit in the forest for the whole game.

On a side note, I assume you're british army? How IS the l85? I've never gotten to play with a real one. I've done some tac drills with my instuctor with a bull pup "blank"(seriously, we used a wooden mock up for it), and I was impressed with the close quarters handling of it. But, obviously, a wooden board isn't a rifle.


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