With the sole exceptions of the stoic, changeless Krag and the remote, indifferent Nightspore, the work's denizens appear to be pan-sexual, polymorphous entities who are not bound by a definitive condition. Gender is not bent so much as in solution, sexual identity dissolved into unending flux.

taken from "Introduction (to A Voyage to Arcturus)" by Alan Moore.

In the quote above, Alan Moore is describing the gender issues in the novel "A Voyage to Arcturus". Krag and Nightspore are two characters from the novel. With their exception, all the other characters appear to be pan-sexual... But I cannot understand the last sentence.

Can you please explain the following sentence: Gender is not bent so much as in solution...

  • It may become clearer if you look up gender-bending. – Tim Lymington Mar 12 '16 at 13:44

"in solution", in the context of chemistry, refers to something that has been completely dissolved in a liquid (the solution which it is in). In this context it means that the concept of gender no longer exists as a fixed idea.

"Bent" is a (traditionally insulting, though possibly used proudly) term to describe a homosexual person, or someone with a non-traditional gender identity, and suggests that their sexuality/gender has been broken and is therefore not normal.

This sentence,

"Gender is not bent so much as in solution, sexual identity dissolved into unending flux."

could therefore be rewritten more prosaically as

"Instead of having two genders with associated sexualities and 'deviations' thereof, this society has a wide range of gender and sexual identities, which themselves may be constantly changing, to the extent that the very concepts of gender and sexuality have become meaningless."

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  • Although this is a great answer, I disagree that "bent" is being used here in the context you've defined. "gender bending/gender bent" basically just means that someone doesn't conform to typical gender roles, and some of my more gender-fluid friends refer to themselves using the term so it's not inherently insulting. – John Clifford Mar 10 '16 at 11:24
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    Whether or not some people have "reclaimed" the word, it still remains as a traditional insult. But, i'll reword my question. – Max Williams Mar 10 '16 at 11:24
  • A fair counterpoint, and thanks for considering mine. :) – John Clifford Mar 10 '16 at 11:25

Moore appears to be using solution here with its definition of

The state of being dissolved

He's essentially saying that traditional genders are being well and truly thrown out of the window by using a metaphor for the dissolution of gender. He even specifically uses the word dissolved in his next clause about sexual identity, which makes it more likely that this is his intent.

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