At first I was sure that I’ll write my response on Reeve’s article, but I couldn’t resist myself writing on Bloodchild after reading it, so I apologize for that. Like many of Butler’s stories the first theme that stands out is the reversal of gender roles. This is clearly evident through T’Gatoi’s character- Tlic- and how she is depicted as a strong and powerful female character. While, the human Gan on the other hand, is inferior to T’Gatoi. But there are tons of novels that address the same theme of reversing gender roles.
Having said that, Butler’s story, I believe, is unique in two aspects in terms of gender roles. The first is that Butler wasn’t content about the idea of reversing gender roles without complicating them, and portraying them differently. I am referring to the fact that males are the ones who should deal with pregnancy. Butler didn’t just stop at this, she wanted to picture males while giving birth, and give thorough details on how such a procedure is performed. It is debatable whether this portrayal is considered to be unconventional or not. Nonetheless, this innovative technique on the reversal of sex roles has an immense effect. Butler wanted to create a drama by making males go through pregnancy, labor, and finally delivery. She wanted males to experience the agony that females go through while giving birth. Also to feel the sacrifice that women make when they decide to bear a child. In other words, Butler wanted to remind men of the dilemma and difficulties that women experience when they decided to bear a child inside of them. The scene where the male Terran gives birth can raise the awareness of gender equality by remembering that women in our world do sacrifice themselves for the better of the society.
The other important aspect that I would like to mention is the fact that the Tlic, even though they are superior to humans in the novel, they are still dependent on them and cannot live without the Terran. They cannot reproduce without the help of humans. Butler wanted to demonstrate that this is exactly true in the world that we line in. But with one major difference. Which is that the Tlic appreciate the sacrifice that humans are doing to them, while in real life this isn’t the case. In our male-dominated societies it seems that they assume bearing a child is one of requirements that women should perform. Men are dependent on women, not just in reproduction, but they don’t appreciate this nor admitting it. Butler is implicitly attacking men for their role in not appreciating their dependence on women. To sum up, I appreciate Butler’s strategy, through using male pregnancy in raising the issue of gender equality. She cleverly used pregnancy in questioning how men believe that they are independent. But also I believe that it is wrong to think that men are only dependent on women for reproduction, it only can serve as reminder that men wouldn’t survive alone.