Do Planets Have Genders?

Hello, friends!

So a while back, I got some unsolicited feedback from a person I know in real life.  This person had seen one of the illustrations I’d drawn for this blog, and she was incensed—absolutely incensed—that I would depict the planet Saturn as female.  You see, Saturn is a very masculine planet.  That’s a fact, apparently.

A lot of my thinking about planets—including my thinking on the gender identities of planets—was shaped by a book called Venus Revealed, by David Grinspoon.  That book was my first serious introduction to planetary science.  In a section titled “Men are from Venus, Women are from Mars,” Grinspoon has this to say:

At first I tried being completely gender-neutral in my writing, but this was unsatisfying because, to me, Venus is not just a “thing.”  Venus is not, in my mind, inanimate, and so “Cousin It” will never do to describe him… or her.

In that same section, Grinspoon does a little cross-cultural analysis and finds that Venus has been “a real gender bender” across human cultures and human history.  Sometimes she’s male; other times he’s female, depending on which mythological tradition you’re looking at.  And some cultures have apparently assigned different genders to the Morning Star and Evening Star, thus effectively making Venus genderfluid.

So do planet’s have genders?  No, of course not.  But much like David Grinspoon, I can’t see the planets as purely inanimate objects.  Planets have too much personality for that.  And since I think of the planets as having personalities, then, for better or worse, I also think of them as having genders.

For purely arbitrary reasons, I tend to think of Saturn as female.  But if you’d prefer to think of Saturn as male, or as something else entirely, that’s okay.  I’m not going to fight you over it.  I can love Saturn (and all the other planets, too) just the same, no matter what gender identities we pretend they have.

P.S.: While doing research for this post, I ended up reading a lot about how astrology assigns genders to planets (and also to numbers, elements, constellations, etc). I don’t want to dive too far down that particular rabbit hole, but I thought I should at least share this article on the subject. I used to think astrology was just silly. Now I think it’s problematic for reasons that go beyond mere pseudoscience.

17 thoughts on “Do Planets Have Genders?

  1. We humans excel at anthropomorphizing everything: animals, sure, but also inanimate objects like internal combustion engines (ever beg your car to start on a cold morning?)

    I see no reason to be limited by the gender of the Roman deity lending his/her/its name to a planet in the Western tradition.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your artistic interpretation isn’t wrong, and we always say Saturn is like a jewel or extremely beautiful so it’s no wonder the planet is thought to be very feminine. The planets were meant to be tied to various deities, most of which have a gender anyway, so of course we’re still going to be personifying the planets to this day, even if Saturn used to be seen as masculine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And while Saturn may have been masculine for the Greeks and Romans, other traditions might view her differently. I’ve also heard Jupiter and Saturn referred to as the king and queen of the Solar System. Come to think of it, there’s no reason why Saturn couldn’t be the king, with Jupiter being his queen. The point is these things are purely arbitrary. And so long as we remember these things are arbitrary, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having fun with it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! I know Roman and Greek mythology have a lot of similarities, but even in something different like Norse mythology Saturn has so many correspondences either to Heimdallr (a male God) or to Frigg (the Queen figure). It’s all art, all interpretation, and all fun!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. LOL. As someone who is both nonbinary and mostly okay with presenting as female, and asexual and aromantic, this whole post makes me feel both seen and amused. I love the English language and other languages I have dabbled in. Sometimes I kind of want to pummel them to death with my mind though. Ergo, I am a writer pretty much like any writer. FYI, if I was not clear enough I am also incredibly upset about however you misgendered whatever planet that was. How dare you talk about that planet that way! Thank you for sharing this thoughtful reflection and for all that you do.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello, fellow asexual human! At least, I think I’m asexual… I’m still questioning some stuff about myself right now, but from what I’ve learned about asexuality so far, I feel like that term fits me well enough.

      Anyway, I first started drawing anthropomorphized planets back in 2015. At the time, I didn’t put much thought into which gender went with which planet. But since then, I’ve met a lot of people who have a lot of different perspectives about gender, and as I said, I’ve found myself questioning some things about myself, too.

      So yeah, I made some mistakes along the way with my anthropomorphized planets. But I want to better going forward, both for my own sake and for the other people’s as well.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks! Yeah, I figured you were joking. But what I said is still true. I’m going to keep drawing planets the way that I do, but I just want to be a bit more flexible in the way I portray them.

        Liked by 1 person

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