Sunday, September 10, 2017

Do Digimon Have Gender?

I’ve seen this question come up a lot over the past few years. It’s so strange that it’s even worth debating, especially when there are so many other aspects of Digimon that could actually fuel an interesting conversation. Everyone wants to know if Digimon have gender, which I guess is a fair question. Since I’ve stumbled across people asking online, and multiple people have actually come to me for answers, I thought I’d finally break it down and see if we can’t clear this one up. Do Digimon have gender?


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Okay, fine, let’s actually go through this one. First, we need to clear up what “gender” actually is. Contrary to what that guy you went to high school with says on Facebook, gender is completely separate from biological sex and refers more to the social construct and expression of one’s self. Biological sex is what we are born with between our legs, gender identity is how we identify (sometimes on the inside) and how we are treated and what assumed roles we are assigned.

Digimon do not have biological sex. Biological sex is primarily involved with reproduction, specifically reproduction that results from a sexual act between a male and a female member of the same species. A daddy Agumon and a mommy Agumon do not make a baby Agumon. Digimon don’t even technically reproduce at all, not in the same way that almost every species on Earth does. When a Digimon dies it’s data is reconfigured and it is reborn as a Digi-Egg. In the anime, this is usually treated as temporarily regressing back to infancy and eventually snapping back to normal. In most games, including the original Digital Monster V-Pet, Digimon rebirth is more like reincarnation with some information like stats and abilities carrying over while allowing the Digimon to Digivolve into something completely new. None of this requires anything to be between a Digimon’s legs.

So while Digimon do not have a biological sex, they certainly do have and express gender identities. Most Digimon are referred to by gendered pronouns, even some one off villains with no dialogue. When in doubt, everyone usually just goes by the gender of the voice actor, which usually matches. Digimon often change voice actors from one series to another, and often a gender change comes piled with that.

I think one of the most noticeable examples of gender in Digimon is Biyomon. The Biyomon that appears in Adventure is referred to by female pronouns and has a female voice actress. All of the evolutions seen in the series have female voices as well. This includes Yokomon, Birdramon, and Garudamon. Another Biyomon shows up in Data Squad, albeit only for a few episodes. This Biyomon had a male voice actor and was referred to by male pronouns for all of its forms, which included Aquilamon in Birdramon’s place. This kind of thing is easier to get away with when you consider the fact that all of the Digimon mentioned here are devoid of any sex-specific characteristics.

We’re talking about boobs, people. Garudamon, a Digimon originally associated with a female character, doesn’t have nipples because it doesn’t need them. A delicious chicken breast is not the same kind of breast that mammals like humans have to feed their young with milk. There are some Digimon with boobs, Angewomon being the most famous example. There has, thankfully, never been official confirmation of this, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Angewomon does not have nipples and most certainly does not produce milk. Could there ever be a male Angewomon? Sure, I guess? I doubt it would ever happen.

So if Digimon do not have biological sex, where does their gender identity come from? Almost every human on earth is assigned a gender based on their sex at birth. The obvious answer here is that Digimon are simply programmed that way, the same way they automatically know their new names when they Digivolve. Digimon are not biological creatures, they do not reproduce sexually, and they do not produce milk. But that doesn't mean they aren't complex, psychological beings with their own gender identities.

Don't take my word for it. This is just one interruption. Feel free to disagree with me in the comments below.