Understand that metaphorical means NON-literal, so she is not talking about time by the clock or weather in the sky. Weather, in this comparison (metaphor) is circumstances we find ourselves in, such as work/careers, parenthood, interpersonal relationships, and so forth. Times would be specific situations in those contexts. She is saying that, in certain situations and circumstances, our genders do not matter: we (re)act as humans, not as men or women.
You job is to identify what those situations and circumstances might be by identifying parallels in the lives of the people of Gethen. Name them, and show the parallels.The essay asks you to do either one of two things:
1) Look for examples of things the Gethenians do which are like the parenthood illustration I used above to prove that she is correct, that there are times when OUR genders don’t matter. She puts these (re)actions into the form of the androgynous Gethenians to tell a good story, but she is really talking about us.
“Lies” = metaphor. A metaphor is a comparison (study of SIMILARITIES) between UNLIKE (= DIFFERENT) things. Its purpose is illustration. For example, I once heard a student say, “Kissing him was like eating a bowl of spaghetti.” Literally, this statement is a Lie, but it nevertheless describes and explains what that kiss was like in a short, easy-to-grasp manner. We are not left in any doubt that she was NOT impressed.
Think of a Time (in LeGuin’s metaphor) as a specific instance and Weather as general conditions. It’s sort of like 3 pm on a Rainy afternoon: the Time is a specific instance, and the general condition is rainy.