Archive by Author

Speculative Life “Disappearing Natives: Notes for Future SF&F Stories.”

2 May

In my response I will be discussing the optional reading assigned for this week, social text periscope: speculative life. I know that probably that I should’ve blog on Tropic of Orange, or at least the other required readings. But, I enjoyed reading most of the articles which pop out by clicking the link. Having said that, I will be discussing the ideas of Andrea Hairston in her article “Disappearing Natives: Notes for Future SF&F Stories.”

I really enjoyed reading Hairston’s article, as she opened my eyes more on SF and its role in the world we live in. Hairston points out, along with other issues, how the popular SF film narratives are dominated by a hetreosexual white male heroes. She also explains how this issue is only an extension of silencing and oppressing the Other, only this time by using media. Her claim is absolutely true, I have never thought of it before. SF films, especially the blockbuster ones are dominated by white males as protagonists. Hairston mentions the film Source Code, where the protagonist is Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal), as an example. I believe that, whoever is responsible for promoting the heterosexual white male to be the standard social norm, is using the SF films, since they are hugely admired nowadays to solidify this notion. Also, to add on Hairston idea, the film Avatar, which was a huge success worldwide, fell to the same thing, since the protagonist Jake Sully (Sam Washington) is a hetreosexual white male. He is “torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home.” There are also many examples of SF films where the protagonist are the same as Captain Stevens, and Jake Sully. Hairston is right when she says “ Imagine Gyllenhaal dropping into the body of an old Chinese lesbian. Would that be a blockbuster?” If that is even possible, the next logical question is WHEN? It seems that in terms of SF blockbusters films we are really behind in identifying the other. After the reading the piece, I am optimistic that things will change soon. Especially when Hairston mentions at the end that she and other SF female writers are aiming to “create a bridge to alternate realities with ‘Native’ protagonists.”  

Also another good point that Hairston makes is the idea of how technology in most films is portrayed as anti-human. And that most heroes must defeat whatever type of technology in order to succeed. Technology, Hairston claims is viewed as enslaver, and that the protagonist must defeat it, if HE wants to be free. She also refers to Source Code as an example. This idea seems a bit absurd to me, especially the world that we live in now. Technology is involved in every aspect of our life. “To be anti-technology is to be anti-human.” In the end, after reading the article I came up with the conclusion that SF films is way behind SF literature in terms of bridging the gaps.        



18 Apr

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.

“When it Changed” as a No Solution to Gender Equality

7 Mar

Although Joanna Russ’s story “When It Changed” is only a few pages long, it is so powerful and impressive from a feminist perspective. From the many stories that we read so far that touch on the subject of feminism and gender equality, Russ’ story stands out in its simplicity as well as in its clever way in pinpointing to the cause of gender inequality. “When it Changed” was written in the 1970s as a reflection of the male dominance back at that time, but what adds to its authenticity is the fact that even nowadays it can reflect the gender situation in the society. If we took Herland for example and compare it to “When it Change” we can notice many differences between how Russ and Gilman had dealt with the subject of gender equality, or to put it simply; the male/female relationship and whether they are dependent or independent on each other.

Both of these stories are the same in the fact that they picture an Utopian society which is limited only on the female sex, where they live in harmony and peace. Having said that, in Gilman’s story the females seems to be more open to the idea of living, or reliving again, with males. This is evident through the love relationship that evolved between the three male characters and the three women after a short period of time of their involvement in Herland. In other words, in Gilman’s story men are welcomed to live with women under a clear, and genuine equality.

This is not the case in “When it Change” as the idea of men living with women seemed to be an irrational thought. I believe that Whileaway represents the (imagined) present, where only women live together in a complete homogeneity while Earth represents the (real life) present, where males and females cannot co-exist together, according to Russ. Several references to the earth and men in the story, keeping in mind that earth mirrors real life, make us think that Russ believes that under such circumstances gender equality is out of reach. “I doubt very much that sexual equality has been reestablished on Earth” (774). Also another reference to men “Katy was right, of course; we should have burned them [the four men] down where that stood” (773). Men are simply not welcomed in Whileaway, also there is no curiosity from the women in Whileaway to get to know men, unlike in Herland.

The last couple of pages demonstrate Russ’ resentment of gender equality in the society.“When it Change” did not offer the possibility of men and women living together in a complete equality. Russ seemed to suggest since gender equality is highly unlikely the only solution would be that each lives in a different place. To sum it up, Herland seemed more open to the fact that men and women can live in a total equality. While on the other hand, “When it Change” does not embrace such idea, it suggest that the damage has already been done, and there is no solution other than each sex lives alone far away from the other. Which is quite impossible, therefore, this makes me believe that Russ’ hope for equality in real life impossible in her view.  

B.N.M. as a Dystopian Novel

21 Feb

Quite contrary to Bellamy’s novel Looking Backward and Gilman’s Herland, George S. Schuyler’s Black No More is definitely a dystopian novel in which the society is in a complete chaos and disorder, unlike Looking Backward and Herland where society is in a perfect condition and order. In this response I will limit my comments to how Schuyler uses satire to picture a dystopian society, and also how he seemed to be satirizing the American society in the mid 20th century.

From reading the first couple of chapters, it seemed to me that this would be another utopian novel, because the ever controversial issue of race would be completely eliminated from the American society, which was a dilemma that lasted for many decades. So my first reaction is that people now would surely live in harmony and peace, and that Schuyler is using race as a means of picturing a perfect society. Nonetheless, as I start flipping the pages, I realized that this is not the case, it seemed that the attempt to neutralize race has only generated a countless of social, economical, and political problems. Schuyler’s use of satire is extraordinary in this novel, especially by his fictionalization of the issues that resulted from the race transformation and how both whites and (upper class) blacks got affected by such procedure. From an economical standpoint, the situation got worse and the jobs that were once assigned to the oppressed black people were left unoccupied. Also, this procedure has resulted a social outrage from whites, this is evident from the strong emergence of the Knights of Nordica, an organization that is dedicated to fight for white racial integrity. From a political viewpoint, we notice how the two political parties are divided on Dr. Crookman’s business, which had a severe effect on the political situation in America.

In sum, Schuyler’s main aim in the novel, I believe, is to prove that race would always be an obstacle in the way of forming an utopian society, and as long as racism is an issue in the society, the idea of a perfect society would be out of reach. Also wanted to prove that race is a socially constructed issue, and there is no escape from that. Another point which I believe is worth mentioning is the fact that Schuyler seems to put the blame on both blacks and whites in the issues that results from race. To take the character of Max Disher as an example, we can sense his naivety by what drives him to decide to change his skin color. His reason was only to go and search for the lady that rejected him because of his skin color. He did not want to change because to improve his social and financial situation, but only to search for his prefered “yellow” woman. Schuyler satirizes the black’s race pride.

3D Love Affairs in Gilman’s Herland

14 Feb

I will begin my response by giving a quick insight on how Charlotte Gilman’s novel Herland resembles/ differs from Bellamy’s Looking Backward. First of all, both Utopian novels are similar in terms of the structure of the story, as these novels mainly consist of long dialogues between the inhabitants of the” Real World” and the inhabitants of the “Utopian World” in which both parties exchange their wonder and amazement at each other’s life. Also these dialogues represent the authors’ own views on the life conditions of the world that they lived in, both writers tried to address the main issues that the society back then were facing whether it was social, political, or economical issues.

As for the main differences between the two, the first apparent distinction is that Gilman’s main aim was to call for gender equality,her dream was that one day women would be treated as good as men, while Bellamy’s did not touch on this matter, his main concern was the economic situation and the social order. Another point of difference is that Herland seemed to be less harsh on real life, in a numerous occasions the women in Womenland seemed curious about life outside their country, and expressed their admiration of some of the things that they learned from the three men, unlike Looking Backward, where everything associated with the past was so useless and corrupt, which the novel seemed to be ultimately saying that all the past was BAD while the present and future is GOOD.

What I really appreciated in Gilman’s Herland is the fact that she used three protagonists, or main characters, to deliver her message about how an ideal female/male relationship should be. Interestingly enough at the beginning of the story the three men Terry, Jeff, and Van all shared the same stand on women and their “supposed” role in society. All three men believed that women’s main role was to stay at home and look after children, and it is only the poor women, they believed, that have to go out and look for work. However, when the three men went to Womenland and met all the amazing women, and closely examine how all the women were living in harmony,also that they are self-dependent, and more importantly all of this happened without men. It is after the three men met all these intelligent women that each one began to have his own stand in regard to women, whether they feel that they are equal to men or not. Terry was the most stubborn between his friends, even after he met these women, especially Alima, he nonetheless still felt that men should have the upperhand in the love relationship, and this was evident when he tried to rape Alima. Jeff, on the other hand, was quite the opposite he was so vulnerable with women to the extent of being the submissive side of his romantic relationship with Celis. Van’s affair with Ellador represented the perfect love affair between the two sexes. Their relationship consisted of a mutual understanding and pure love, we can sense that their bond is built upon a strong foundation of equal respect and admiration. Gilman seemed to be urging people to take the love relationship between Van and Ellador to be the standard love affair between men and women. It is obvious that neither Terry’s nor Jeff’s romantic relationship seemed to be ideal, as they both did not call for equality between men and women.This is why I believe that Gilman used Van to be the narrator of the story as he was the one who depicted Gilman’s genuine views on the perfect bond between men and women