Gender and The Dispossessed

This seems like a reasonable place to talk about gender in /The Dispossessed/. There’s lots we could talk about around gender in the book, but the thing I’ve been thinking about the most is Shevek’s sexual assault of Vea in chapter 7. Why did Le Guin include this scene? Are we meant to believe that Urras is so corrupt that having been there only a few months, Shevek becomes capable of rape? Or, does sexual assault, like fist fighting, fall into the category of individual violence rather than systemic violence, on Anarres? Le Guin goes out of her way to explain that Shevek and Bedap discuss their sexual pairing carefully (172), but leaves us in the dark about whether or not heterosexual couples engage in this kind of negotiations (in fact, her formulation implies that this kind of negotiation is exceptional).
It certainly seems like Anarres hasn’t totally overcome gender inequity—Shevek’s resentment of his mother seems to me one indicator of this—but imagining that it has, would that mean that sexual assault could be understood as an interpersonal problem only? And that Shevek, evidently fine with interpersonal violence, assaults Vea because he underestimates the systemic consequences of sexual violence on a world with much more pronounced gender inequity?

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