| Quote #1
Wiping sweat from his dark forehead the man—man I must say, having said he and his—the man answers. (1.14)
Gender and language are tightly connected in the novel. Both Ai's language and his views on gender force him to see the Gethenians through a human perspective, which they are not. If this were a sitcom, it'd lead to shenanigans. Since this is a very serious novel, the jokes are notably absent.
| Quote #2
Though I had been nearly two years on Winter I was still far from being able to see the people of the planet through their own eyes. (1.38)
But will he ever be able to see Gethenians as they see themselves? These are people who change gender more frequently than our college roommates changed clothes. Can Ai ever reach such a goal?
| Quote #3
My landlady, a voluble man, arranged my journey to the East. (5.1)
Ha. Okay, so there are still some jokes to be had. Notice how Ai calls the man a landlady, suggesting that he even sees people's professions in terms of man's job vs. woman's job.