Response to The Stone Gods

An alien race looks down upon a strange world from a far away distance.  Suddenly before their eyes, the world is destroyed, and not by any natural means.  One alien said to another. “Wow. They must have been very intelligent to be able to destroy themselves.”
I first heard this story when I was very young. Even then I understood its meaning.  A race that destroyed itself had to be intelligent enough to come up with the means, but ignorant enough to actually execute it.  Irony.

The Stone Gods shows society in a dim light.  Social dislocation and human wastefulness is just two examples.  The planet is dying, just as we today in our world are reminded by officials, scientists, and television commercials that our planet is slowly dying.  But a new world is found, and some are sent to explore the planet.  To make it habitable, the few humans there, the starts of civilization, are accidentally destroyed on the planet.

Captain Handsome suggests that this have happened before.  As our planets die we send out version of ourselves in order to establish a new life on that planet. When life is destroyed there, the human race is left to evolve all over again, leading up to the state of civilization where they destroy the planet with wastefulness once more.

I was reminded of the story I opened with as I read this novel.  I believe that Winterson is commenting on our destructive society and claiming that we do not learn from our mistakes.  Even if we do find a new world, who is to say we would treat it better?  According to the author of The Stone Gods, civilization is just a cycle of destruction.  It is a warning to us, to be intelligent, yet not be ignorant to our own problems.

Add comment February 27, 2010 YamamotoTifa

Response to “Dawn”

In Octavia Butler’s story “Dawn” within the series “Lilith’s Brood,”  the idea of “gene trading” with aliens is fascinating and also horrifying.  The aliens try to create a better race by combining their genes with human genes.  After some thought, however, I realized that “gene trading” was not such a new idea.

The idea of “gene trading” may be common in our own society.  Today women and men give up their genes to strangers for profits.  The donation of sperm and fertile eggs is commonly practiced today.  It’s an easy way to earn cash, and most applicants go through a screening process to determine their traits.  This way, not only is it beneficial to the donors, but the buyers know about the person who donated genes to them.  How is this different that the Oankali’s gene trade?  We are choosing genes through the process of details about the donors.  Hair color. Eye color. Height. Profession.  Health.  The Oankali were hoping to create better humans, a better species, just as we hope to have great children from the donation of others.  We take each others genes, and the donors give away their genes, their children, to strangers.

Perhaps Butler did not mean to leave us with a criticism on our method of trading genes with each other.  But it did catch my attention as I was reading her work.  Perhaps through gene trading we can rid our species of cancer and other diseases, making a better race.  But I fear where that ambitious road might lead us.  It sounds to me like Mattapoisett from “Woman on the Edge of Time.”  Are robots going to choose the best genes from our donations and create children?  Perhaps our start to gene trading with sperm and egg donations is a risky venture.

3 comments February 20, 2010 YamamotoTifa

Response to The Female Man

I will, first of all, admit that this book has quite a difficult plot to grasp.  The novel tells the story of how four women from different worlds begin to become aware of each other and visit the other women’s societies.  Of course, each world is different, and each one has shocking attributes that differ from social norms of the other worlds.  The women learn, through the experiences of the others, what it means to be a woman.  It was interesting to read the different societies and learn how each woman had adapted to the rules and social norms of their worlds.  In the end, it is conceivable that the four women are the same person; their only difference is the world they live.

In my opinion, I would say that the four women (Jeanine, Joanna, Jael and Janet) are actually imaginary version of the author herself, Joanna Russ.  Not only is the name of one of the women her own name, but it is reasonable to believe that the author portrayed herself in several different worlds so discuss and critique social statuses of her own society.  Also, the fact that much of the novel is told in first person narrative gives the idea that it is the author telling the story through her characters, combining the two.

One thing I do wish to discuss with those who have read the books is how Mattapoisett differs from Whileaway.  In “Woman on the Edge of Time,” the main character Connie visions a perfect world without gender roles.  This is interesting in comparison to Whileaway.  While Mattapoisett has no gender roles but still has male and female bodies, Whileaway has only women as the men died out long ago.  Each society is viewed as a Utopia.  Written by different authors, this is an interesting view on society.  A Utopia is only achievable when the differences invoked by gender are forgotten.  The worlds of “The Female Man” with men are Dystopias in their own definitions, especially the universe of Jael where men and women have been fighting a forty year long war.  The gender roles of the Utopias is interesting as they simply don’t exist.  Why, I wonder, do the authors feel as though gender is the inhibitor of a decent society?

1 comment February 13, 2010 YamamotoTifa

Response to “What I Didn’t See” by Fowler

What do we see? What don’t we see?  WHO don’t we see?

To see means to visually perceive something or to understand something.  In this story, Beverly was not truly seen by any of the other characters.  She is a young, attractive girl who lived within the “strong but sexy woman” stereotype of the 1920’s.  She smoke, she spat, but she also was sexy.  At the end of the story, she disappeared. The men quickly blame the gorillas for taking her, but there are no signs of them. She simply disappeared without notice.

As we can guess from the title, this story is related to Tiptree’s “The Women Men Who Don’t See.”  As the women in that story choose to leave with the aliens, we can deduce that Fowler’s character Beverly choose to leave with the gorillas.  For all her beauty, the men did not “see” her as capable of doing this, because they had her stereotyped by her appearance.

What the narrator herself doesn’t see is, not only Beverly’s true motive for the journey, but the slaughter that occurred after Beverly disappeared.  Eddie used the stereotype of men to persuade the men of his group to slaughter the gorillas.  Knowing the suspicions of the men, he did not want the porters to be accused.  Eddie remembered how poorly slaves were treated in the area.  He wanted to take any suspicion that might arouse on the porters and simply convince the men it was the gorillas who took Beverly.  He wanted the men to kill and be “all so ashamed, there would be no way to turn and accuse someone new” (Larbalestier 353).

The slaughter, while it protected the porters, completely covered the fact that Beverly left with the gorillas.  Why she did this and why the men could not accept this belief in their own minds, we will never know.  The stereotype of women kept them from seeing her as one to potentially leave their group, and the stereotype of men caused the resulting slaughter.

3 comments February 6, 2010 YamamotoTifa

Culture of a Disease

While reading Octavia Butler’s story “The Evening and the Morning and the Night, I was prompted to consider if Butler is discussing race or biology within the context of her story.  Honestly, I believe it is both.  Race is genetic, a group of people related by common descendants.  Each race has a particular feature handed down by their ancestors.  In the case of her story, the main character has a race that inherited the disease, since it seemed that each person within her family had the disease.  But in argument of that, we do not consider those with Breast Cancer to be part of a race.  That is Biology.  But the people affected by the disease in Butler’s story are connected through genetics and through what occurs to them through their life.

This being said, I want to add the option of choosing Ethnicity.  Ethnic backgrounds include the culture of a race, not simply genetic features.  Since those with the disease seem to act the same through life, they all have the same culture. They are all good at science, they all eat “dog biscuits” and drink only water, they eat alone, and they must wear an emblem around their neck.  The main character decided to live with those who also had the disease because with them she felt “normal.”  Their ethnicity is the same between each person with the disease.  Their culture is the same.  Instead of a race with the same disease passed along through generations, the people in Butler’s story have the same ethnicity.

Add comment January 28, 2010 YamamotoTifa

At What Price? : Woman on the Edge of Time

At what price?

In Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time, a story is told of a woman, Connie.  While placed in a mental hospital, Connie is shown a vision of the future, and soon she is transported 150 years ahead of her time.  She is shown the city, which, in my own opinion, was both satisfyingly clam and also horrifying.  I say this because of what changes are made in the future in her vision.  The economy is balanced, jobs are ready, children receive an education, and crops and cows are raised with care by everyone.  People can choose which relation or ethnicity to which they wish to belong, even ignoring genetic differences.  To me, the idea of farm lands, animals, and clothing drying on a clothesline in the wind sounds like serenity.  But what changes are made in her future, and what is given up to achieve this “serenity?”  Relationships.  I found it disturbing to learn that in the future Connie experienced, gender differences are no more.  Men and women perform the same tasks.  Mates and friends are replaced with “sweetfriends,”  even more than one per person.  The very act that made women different from men, the ability to bear children, is given to the task of machines, who create babies based on natural selection and proper genetics.  When a person dies in the world, three “mothers,” male or female, are assigned to a child.  Women and even men can be given hormones to develop breast milk for the baby.  The story tells the raising of children as if they belong to the community, not to the parents.

There is one question the book does not answer.  Is Connie truly visiting the future, or is she just experiencing hallucinations?  The answer is up to the reader.  That being said, if I had to choose an answer for this, I would say that Connie is only hallucinating.  She is never certain that she is not hallucinating, so the fact that she distrusts her own imagination warns me that Mattapoisett may not be real.  I believe her madness invented the other world as it was because of her troubled past.  She faced many adversities in life because of her Mexican heritage, so I believe that sparked the idea of choosing your ethnicity within her dream of the future.   It is told through the story that Connie holds resentment to her own mother, and that resentment causes her unstable relationship with her daughter.  Perhaps that experience created the idea of a future without relationships, without mothers and children belonging to only the parents.  It is impossible to say if Connie was hallucinating or not, as the author left it up to the reader to decipher.  But with these contextual clues I would have to answer that she did envision the future, but she did not truly see the future.

1 comment January 24, 2010 YamamotoTifa

Man Made Woman

On a website survey for timesonline.com, one surveyed male describe what men truly want.  “We just want to feel boobs. As many as possible” (Times Online).  But in the same survey, a man describe his perfect woman as a “…half-Swedish, half-Japanese, permanently 25-year-old, 5ft 8in bisexual gymnast with a medium cup, a penchant for tastefully slutty cocktail dresses and an erotically feisty side that meant arguments about the Iraq war always deteriorated into sex rather than slammed doors.”  It is not a new concept that men have an image of a perfect woman and that society provokes the elements of the ideal woman.  Images surround us within the media of skinny women, blondes and brunettes with flowing soft hair, women so perfect that they do not need make up to enhance their beauty.  It is impossible to escape; it’s in our movies, our magazines, our televisions, even advertisings.  Many women across America suffer from self-image issues because they feel as though they do not fit the criteria of the “ideal woman.”  If a woman grows up without long legs, the perfect figure, exact facial features, or sizable breasts, our society has created readily available plastic surgery to “fix” their problems.  Men want the perfect women we’re exposed to through media, and women want to be them.  The man-made woman is a phenomenon that is not new to our society, and it is seen in our literature as well.  In Lisa Tuttle’s Science Fiction story, “Wives,” she tells of an alien race that is corrupted with this idea of the man-made woman as well.  The men of Earth invaded their land, and the females of the planet decided to become “wives” for them, but only with the alternative choice of death.  The females try their hardest to look like a “woman,” a creature that they have never seen before.  They changed their appearance with skintights and painted faces, they served cooked meals they found repulsive, wore perfume they hate.  The females even bound their bodies to cover their three breasts and give the appearance of having only two.  The men return home from their war to a sexily dressed women with fake eyelashes, bound breasts, and painted faces.  They are happy as long as they have the “wife” and their three tits, as many boobs as they can get.  They return to creatures known as their “wives”; their own creation.  The women change themselves for survival, but is that not the same as we do on Earth?  The women change themselves to be perfect, to attract men.  Even if a woman is not looking for a man, she still feels compelled to change herself so that she can compete with the man-made woman ideal.  Lisa Tuttle portrayed this story well in her short science fiction tale, showing light on our own society through that of an alien race.

Refences:

What Makes an Ideal Woman?  January 16, 2010  <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/men/article4790198.ece>.

1 comment January 16, 2010 YamamotoTifa

The Fears of the Cold War.

Please bear with me, this is, astonishingly, my very first blog post.  I have created networks and writings within other social websites, such as “Facebook,” but I have yet to create a blog.

I began reading “Created He Them” by A.E. Jones for my new class entitled English 592: Women in Science Fiction.  Reading this science fiction story from 1955 in today’s time, I began to deduce that the fears of the Cold War within the author or the people of the time were appearing in the writings.  In the 1950s through the 1960s, superpowers in the East and West were growing competitively against one another.  The threat of a nuclear war was very substantial in the lives of Americans, for example, that bombing centers, alarms, and drills were created to protect the citizens.

In relation to those fears, the story “Created He Them,” in my own opinion, tells the tale of the female’s fears of the Cold War.  The protagonist lives her life serving the man of her house, Henry.  Her children are taken from her at the age of three and placed at the “Center” where the government raises them.  Her role is to serve obediently to Henry and the state, though she despises her children’s father.  Even her children, who she loves dearly, eventually would forget their own mother. Speaking to another woman, Ann commented that her sons and daughters all went to the Center.  “Lennie missed Kate so, until her forgot her.”  Ann stated this so easily that it seemed to be the norm of the world, for families to be torn apart for reasons only the government truly knows.  Ann works so hard to care for her family, yet it can be inferred that her children don’t remember her after they are sent to the Center.  She even despises Henry she is tempted to kill him, but she is subservient to her duties to him in bed, to create children.  Interestingly, I could not find one instance in the story where Ann called Henry her “husband.”  Was he simply a man to whom she was given to breed?  Was he her husband before the war, but now she detests him?  It is hard to understand her relationship to Henry as he only verbally abuses her and takes her in the bedroom.  The narrator, Ann, uses phrases such as “someone in this house” or simply referring to him as Henry instead of her husband.  Ann shows her troubles in her life to the reader, showing the hardships of raising children and living with her “husband.”

I read this story as a description of the fears of women during the Cold War, because it is an accurate guess as what might happen if a nuclear war did occur.  The women are used to repopulate the city or even the entire country, though they are robbed of the enjoyment of raising their children to full growth.  In Ann’s situation, she is paired with a “husband” she would rather kill than sleep with once more, but because he is able to breed, she decides to live with his verbal abuse.  The entire story is depressing for today’s readers, especially as I personally wished that she had left Henry or even killed him, which is an odd feeling for me.  The Cold War affected everyone who lived during those times, and it shows through this story.

Add comment January 10, 2010 YamamotoTifa

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1 comment January 5, 2010 YamamotoTifa