surrealistic's blog http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/blog/30 en oryx and crake vs. handmaid's tale http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/362 <p>Since both of these novels are by Atwood, I immediately began noticing similarities (and more often, differences) between them when I started reading Oryx and Crake. The two greatest similarities seem to be: the meandering narrative style, which is not my personal cup of tea but is certainly better than being dry and dull; and the overall dystopian viewpoints of the books. </p> <p>In the Handmaid's Tale, religious extremism is the big "Thing" that has moved the world from contentment into despair; and the most destructive product of that fanaticism is the subjugation of women. In Oryx and Crake, it seems that scientific development is the big evil at first; but when you look below the surface I think it's really corporate control OF science that it's trying to criticize. The Crakers themselves, with their "perfected" human genetic composition and general plasticity, seem to be the biggest example of this. </p> <p>Crake is a negative personification of the ideal of progress...or rather he is what happens when someone gets too strongly behind the idea of always moving forward. While walking around Watson-Crick, he keeps pointing out different technologies and saying "wave of the future" or "the latest"I found it so interesting that Crake is also basically programmed with a disrespect for life by playing violent video games, watching live executions, and another called "Extinctathon", which while it doesn't directly contribute to mistreating the environment, perhaps encourages it? Yet, I didn't find myself hating Crake; rather feeling intimidated that he is the future of our planet...the progress-blinded, drunk-on-technology non-human with no respect for the earth, or no need for it. </p> <p>I suppose one could notice that both novels are decidedly heterosexual, and do not really explore non-traditional gender relations, but sticking to a few strong topics almost makes Atwood's critiques more effective.</p> http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/362#comments Oryx and Crake the handmaid&#039;s tale Mon, 05 May 2008 05:33:15 +0000 surrealistic 362 at http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008 recognizing a life pattern http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/341 <p>I'm going to use my last "freebie" blog post and cop out on this one, because I have two term papers due this week as well as a video production project, and all of my ideas about this novel were pretty thoroughly dissected in class. I will be making several comments on others' posts to contribute, though. </p> <p>Peace,<br /> Claire</p> http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/341#comments Pattern Recognition Tue, 29 Apr 2008 06:26:13 +0000 surrealistic 341 at http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008 dialect & language in midnight robber http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/314 <p>Wow, as the end-of-year-tiredness sets in, I keep on forgetting to do these...sorry about that...anyway, I was in the second group of presenters on Wednesday, and I was the one who talked about dialect and the use of language in the novel. </p> <p>One of the first things that I noticed while preparing my topic were the correlations drawn between the colonization of Toussaint, the impregnation of a woman, and planting fertile soil. I used two quotes, one from the very beginning of the novel about the arrival of Granny Nanny on the already-inhabited planet: "...like God entering he woman; plunging into the womb of soil to impregnate the plant with the seed of Granny Nanny"(pp.2) and another in which Tan-Tan is explaining her pregnancy: "[My father] rape me...He put this baby in me...He was forever trying to plant me, like I was his soil to harvest"(pp.260) </p> <p>What I noticed at first is that both images seem to allude to rape, especially since the woman (or female-gendered entity, in the case of the land) is treated as an object to be possessed, such as when God enters "he" woman, meaning "his". However, I'm aware that this can sound like a sexist assumption against men; particularly since God is the one doing the impregnating in the first instance. But, when we're talking about colonization, we are talking about something forced. I didn't get to bring this up in class, but one could argue that organized religion is more of an oppressive force than a compassionate representation of God.<br /> I think that exploring possible rape is an important part of recognizing the struggles of women in a colonized society; but even more interesting are the references to planting, which suggests a positive, life-giving force connected to the rape. This positive light would make more sense if the colonization and/or sexual acts occurred with mutual consent, but clearly that isn't the case. Perhaps this alludes to the fact that natives of the Caribbean were considered "savages" and told by colonists that their subjugation to "civilized" society was "for their own good" and meant to help them grow or evolve? I think this sounds plausible. </p> <p>It didn't get much of a response in class, but I was also intrigued by the stream-of-consciousness, almost hip-hop-like language used by the Robber King that Tan-Tan and her mother run into. What is a reader supposed to take from a sentence like "I wrestle the warptenned flying shit from the ensorcelled dungmaster, the master plan blaster in his silver-fendered stratocaster with wings of phoenix flame..." (pp.56). At first I was completely confused; what do Stratocasters and phoenixes have to do with anything? The narration explains that these speeches were always re-told stories about escaping the horrors of slavery and surviving after their land had been colonized. In other words, it is like a dialect within a dialect; a way of remembering their struggles that their colonizers will not understand and therefore cannot condemn.<br /> This extremely high level of adaptability is fascinating; when a group of people (by extension this is probably referring to blacks in America) are colonized, enslaved or taken over, they merely mix parts of the conquering culture with their own and continue as before...they are not broken.</p> http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/314#comments Midnight Robber Tue, 22 Apr 2008 19:01:49 +0000 surrealistic 314 at http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008 metaverse(s) and identity http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/289 <p>So this is me freaking out somewhat because I realized halfway through the weekend that I forgot to do my post about Snow Crash...eeeeek. Let's see what can be done.</p> <p>When one enters the Metaverse, an "avatar" or virtual clone of oneself is created and used for interaction. We all seemed to agree in class that there are points in the book in which it's hard to tell whether Hiro is in the "real world" or the Metaverse; this creates an interesting problem for the whole great American ideal of the secure individual self that no one else can touch. Obviously the Metaverse allows for some distinctive bending of the laws of the natural world; basic actions such as walking, running, talking with others can be executed purely through the power of the mind. One can almost be completely detached from one's "self" in the Metaverse and yet still be controlling them. Only fighting requires total immersion into one's virtual self. Where, then, do we draw the line between characteristics that cannot be changed (race, perhaps) and constructed aspects of the self? Or can any human characteristic be changed, i.e. mind over matter? </p> <p>I think it's possible that this book is suggesting a world in which identity is completely a personal and social construct...and that we are either already in that world without realizing it, or moving towards that world. Hiro's multifaceted racial identity (part black, part Asian by way of...etc.) certainly suggests a purposeful breakdown of racism and a growing inability to pigeonhole anyone based on their appearance or skin color. We talked some in class about the virtual reality game Second Life (which I will admit to having an account on at one point, though I split once I realized actual money was involved) which is similar in theory to the Metaverse, and how its "artificiality" has been positive in some ways, creating an environment in which people of all colors and preferences are free to express themselves. </p> <p>However, in an indirect study of the Metaverse, I found myself thinking about something I actually noticed while I was still playing Second Life...often people of non-white races (black, Asian, Indian, etc.) would make their avatars visibly white and then brag about how "white" they were. They blurred the lines, by proudly declaring their actual ethnicity in their avatar's profile, even if the avatar itself was blonde, pale and very "Aryan" looking. This bothered me a bit. In an odd way, the ability to construct oneself was reinforcing racism and other problems of our society, such as homophobia and religious extremism; but why? Is it because we don't know how to operate any other way? Does commerce and capitalism require this kind of racial hierarchy? One of my favorite things about sci fi in general is how it pushes people to imagine their world differently and put down their assumptions...so I would hope that we're not stuck regardless. </p> <p>I suppose the main question of the Metaverse is whether we have the same amount of freedom or less freedom than Hiro when it comes to re-creating ourselves; in a virtual reality game we seem to have the same amount, but the problems that we struggle with in the real world end up being re-created. In the real world, it is not recommended to change one's skin color although it is possible; but, we are in the process of redefining race, and the population of multiracial/multicultural people is expanding. Could our identity be just as malleable in the real world as it is virtually?</p> http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/289#comments Response 8 Snow Crash Mon, 14 Apr 2008 17:09:20 +0000 surrealistic 289 at http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008 slow river and corporations http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/251 <p>Of all the "subplots" that make up this novel, I found the Lore/Sal Bird -- Magyar one the most intriguing. In the beginning it definitely inspires a disgust for the corporate machine and how little it seems to care about the consumers of its "product", which is essential to life: water. All of this seems to suggest that in a technological age, one of humanity's few remaining weaknesses is its dependence on greedy profit-driven corporations for survival, which is certainly true of our real world.</p> <p>At first I was stunned that Magyar ends up falling in love with Lore/Sal Bird; I thought that Magyar would just be the thorn in Lore's side, the annoying boss who is intimidated by her intelligence and pretends that Lore's work isn't good enough to save some face. However, in this section of menial worker ants, Lore is probably the only one who has ever given Magyar a good challenge. But this ending kind of bothered me because of how "Hollywood" it was...walking away hand in hand 'into the sunset' per se. </p> <p>Also, Magyar in some ways is made to seem more traditionally "feminine" than Spanner (mainly implied by numerous references to her glorious hair swishing behind her), thus suggesting that the best kind of lesbian relationship can only happen between two "feminine" women. I was glad that someone brought this up in class because although it's clear that Griffith sets out to break a lot of boundaries and go against readers' expectations, she also goes along with some other stereotypes (the porno lesbian being the main one)</p> <p>Anyway, that's my rant on this novel; not my favorite, but certainly innovative when it comes to sexuality and gender issues.</p> http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/251#comments Response 7 Slow River Thu, 03 Apr 2008 03:10:48 +0000 surrealistic 251 at http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008 poetry & language in "stars in my pocket..." http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/209 <p>This is something that I mentioned in class, but what particularly interests me about in Delany's book is the protagonist's relationship with poetry and carefully chosen language. I can't really even articulate it very well due to the sheer abundance of detail that is given, but poetry seems to be connected in his brain somehow with sex, desire, and a sort of ethereal musical harmony. This was the passage I found where it stands out the most: </p> <p>"The first sound came. (Why didn't he open his eyes?) I have heard some evelmi say that the untutored human voice is generally more pleasing to them in song than the trained one--even though they respect the training's intention. The rougher vibrations resemble the multiplicity of sounds from multiple tongues. What I heard first, by whatever part of the ear meters and measures and counts despite all conscious intention was...well, as clear as any pattern I'd heard that many times...dactyl, spondee, dactyl, trochee..." (pp. 254-255)</p> <p>Long passage, I know. I noticed that dactyls, spondees and trochees are different syllabic combinations used in formal poetry. What I got from my first glean of this passage was a deep-rooted desire for order and organization. The multiple vibrations resonating in harmony, the counting and metering of language, and his appreciation of poetic formality might be ways of finding sanctuary, by pretending that there is order in the midst of chaos, maybe? Ironically I sympathized with him because I was looking for some order in the chaos of this book! </p> <p>There is also a certain tactile quality that he recognizes in language and speech. shown by the images of tongues and vibrating voices. Sex has been so distanced from humanity in this book that it's possible that he's trying to re-connect them again, by reconnecting his words with his body. Anyway, I feel like this is a rambling mess, but I'm curious to see what you all think.</p> http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/209#comments Response 6 Fri, 14 Mar 2008 20:09:41 +0000 surrealistic 209 at http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008 sex as the alien in lilith's brood (vols 2 and 3) http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/190 <p>I went into more depth with this line of thought in my paper, but for some reason the Lilith's Brood trilogy got me thinking about how the subject (and act, ultimately) of sex is treated by our society, and why. </p> <p>The vastly different attitudes of the humans and the Oankali towards sex is significant; it reveals itself is through language and the characters' actions. The Oankali talk about "sharing" sex; the humans talk about "having" or "getting" it. In the human view, it is almost like a possession itself, or a method of possessing a partner. To the Oankali, it is a biological necessity for reproduction, but there is also a ritualistic element to it that is almost sacred. Humans use sex as a weapon (as in rape) to subjugate or control others; or, sex is demonized and treated as sinful or "perverse". Humans make sex into something that is unnatural, "other" and "alien" in this way; which is reinforced by the fact that the Oankali, an alien species, embrace sexuality. It seems that the Oankali also use sex as a device, but to bring people together and deepen their intimacy, as Nikanj does with Lilith and Joseph. </p> <p>I acknowledge that the main flaw in my theory is that some of the Oankali sexual interaction with humans seems coerced, even forced. For example, when Nikanj is seducing Joseph, he says "You see, your body has made a different choice'" (pp 189, Dawn). Does Nikanj somehow know what Joseph truly wants, or is it taking away his free will? In the same way, Nikanj tells Lilith "You'll have a daughter, and you are ready to be her mother. You could never have said so. Just as Joseph could never have invited me into his bed, no matter how much he wanted me there. Nothing about you but your words reject this child" (pp 247, Dawn). The mind is supposed to be one of the fundamental things that a person controls about themselves; surely this control is not taken away so easily. </p> <p>The professed goal of the Oankali colonization is to allow humans to "have a chance to live on your Earth, not just to die on it" (pp 32, Dawn). And indeed, they do go about teaching them how to survive in strange terrain without killing unnecessarily. This preference for nonviolence is admirable. However, the realization that sexuality is not "alien" but natural is also a goal. Nikanj puts it, "Let them learn that it isn't shameful to be together with one another and with us" (pp 200, Dawn). </p> <p>By the end of the trilogy, readers may sit back and find that they have embraced or at least accepted the idea of a third 'both-gender' sex like the ooloi. The novel's depiction of sex as "alien" and yet inherently human is meant to encourage readers to critique societal attitudes that condemn sexuality as demonic, sinful or something to be feared. Butler's critique should lead us to question why our society treats open sexuality, appreciation of pleasure, and unconventional gender identities as "alien". As the fate of the earliest humans in the novel suggests, these tendencies seem to ultimately lead to sexual repression, cyclical violence and the destruction of the human race.</p> http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/190#comments Reading Response 5 Tue, 11 Mar 2008 08:47:23 +0000 surrealistic 190 at http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008 sexuality & power dynamic in lilith's brood http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/162 <p>First off, I really enjoyed reading this book; in my opinion it does a far better job of presenting an alternative view of gender than Left Hand of Darkness did. I don't know that I'd necessarily want our civilization to evolve in this direction gender-wise, but clearly Oankali society functions quite smoothly even with a lack of duality. The message is that this kind of functioning is possible for us. Lilith's Brood is a feminist work in the best sense because it promotes and presents a model of true gender equality. </p> <p>Interestingly enough, the ooloi or "third" gender, who are both male and female integrated, seem to wield most of the power and influence in Oankali society, They take the primary role in procreation and are respected as "treasured strangers" (pp.106). The female Oankali follow just behind them in status, and the males are actually the calmest and most passive. Ultimately, however, an Oankali's gender is of little consequence; though ooloi, those of the gender that would be most unfamiliar to humans, are the ones specifically bred to work with humans.<br /> The structure of Oankali society forces the reader (and the human characters) to confront and accept functional androgyny, and possibly even respect it. It is interesting that even with this degree of control and extra ability, ooloi are still called "outsiders"; perhaps to gradually get the reader audience used to such an idea? I'm not certain. </p> <p>I loved how among the Oankali, sex is not demonized, it is embraced, and yet made very scientific at the same time. Sex is "shared" rather than being "had". Possession has nothing to do with it; the experience is either sensual and about pleasure, or neutral and merely biological. The process of maturing sexually has an almost-sacred significance and is referred to as a "metamorphosis". Oankali do not have a separate set of sexual organs; sensory arms are "very flexible, very versatile, but only another limb" (pp.110). Oankali do not struggle with sexuality and obsess over pleasure to the same degree that humans do, and yet, it is what they live for in a way. </p> <p>The only part of the gender model in this book that maybe doesn't work so well is the "demonizing" of the human male. I'm sure that most human men probably would go a little bonkers after not having sex for months, but I doubt that it would drive them all to violence and total dehumanization of women in their minds. In other words, Paul Titus bothers me. It's interesting that the Oankali treated two humans the way that we treat animals today; put 'em in a cage and wait until they mate. However, what do animals do if they don't want to mate? They just don't! No killing or injury involved. I think that human men are being deliberately portrayed as "out of control" but it's an unfair generalization. </p> <p>There is a conversation between Lilith and Tate Marah, the first woman that she Awakens, where many interesting things show up:<br /> "Who are you Awakening?"<br /> "Leah Bede and Celene Iver."<br /> "Two more women? Why don't you wake up a man?"<br /> "I will eventually."<br /> "You're still thinking about your Paul Titus, aren't you?"<br /> "He wasn't mine." She wished that she had not told Tate about him.<br /> "Awaken a man next, Lilith. The guy who was found protecting the kids."<br /> "On the theory that if you fall off a horse, you should immediately get back on?"<br /> "Yes."<br /> "Tate, once he's Awake, he stays Awake. He's used to ordering people around. He can't save us or protect us but he can damn sure screw us up."<br /> "So what, you're going to wait until you can Awaken him to a kind of harem?"<br /> Tate seems to be driven by typical female desires: the wish to be protected, and sexual desire. Lilith is thinking of the whole group and who will be the most useful, not worrying about her own ability to function sexually. However, they are almost turning some tables and treating the man in question like an object, an animal who would be unable to control himself simply because he is outnumbered by women. This is an interesting experiment to look at, but it is basically reverse-sexist, and probably wouldn't work so well in our human society.</p> http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/162#comments feminism gender Lilith&#039;s Brood Wed, 27 Feb 2008 18:33:17 +0000 surrealistic 162 at http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008 though it has probably been noted... http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/136 <p>I decided that I needed to take one of my freebies for the Handmaid's Tale response. That book just made me angry because of its terrible ending, and potentially frightened, because Gilead resembles what a freakish fundamentalist-Christian America would be at its most extreme. For that reason alone, I actually think that more people should have to read it, and maybe have second thoughts about pushing their morals/beliefs on others. That being said, I also already have midterms beginning. My first exam is tomorrow. Gah....: /</p> http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/136#comments Response 3 the handmaid&#039;s tale Wed, 20 Feb 2008 09:37:07 +0000 surrealistic 136 at http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008 buddhism in le guin's "left hand of darkness" http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/135 <p>Since the religion that I most closely identify with is Buddhism, I was pleasantly surprised to see some Buddha-flavored (for lack of a better description) ideas emerging as the overarching themes or conflicts of the novel. Though little actually happens plot-wise, Le Guin has a very distinctive, almost sarcastic "writer's voice" that gets the reader caught up in this meandering philosophical journey. </p> <p>Certainly "Left Hand of Darkness" is a classic example of how third-wave feminism looked at (and continues to look at) the cultural problems of themodern world. The way that Genly Ai, a Terran, approaches human and societal differences is indicative of the struggles that people here on Earth have with the ideas of race, gender, class and so on. On one side of the conflict we have Terran duality; on the other, Gethenian oneness and fluidity. We, too, have this driving need to classify people and phenomena into categories, defining them by a single label; day and night, male and female, black and white, rich and poor. Though we acknowledge that there are gray areas to a certain extent, we are never completely comfortable with allowing someone or something to be neither, or to be both. </p> <p>Gethenians, on the other hand, have a difficult time separating things into dualities; everything exists in a singular, cohesive state. The planet, true to its name of "Winter" experiences nothing but unchanging snowy weather. Gender is completely fluid, and Genly struggles to properly express someone's gender due to the constraint of his (and by extension, our) language. For example, Genly describes one Gethenian he encounters as "{his} landlady, a voluble man" (pg.47), which is seemingly a paradox and an expression of total androgyny. Perhaps it is safer to say that Gethenians are touched by duality to a lesser extent; they are closer to being an enlightened society, if you will. Maybe Le Guin is trying to present them as an example of what we could attain.<br /> The only instances in which duality appears within Gethenian society are: 1) when male and female become distinct during the period of "kemmer". Genly Ai sticks to a singular pronoun here: "I saw a girl, a filthy, pretty, stupid, weary girl looking up into my face as she talked, smiling timidly, looking for solace. The young Orgota was in kemmer" (pg. 171). The other is 2) within the governmental structure. Gethenians do understand the idea of separate "Domains" and nations, as a sort of replacement for the duality of different races.</p> <p>What frustrates me the most about Left Hand of Darkness is that it does a wonderful job of presenting and describing the problems created by our dualistic worldview, but it fails to suggest a method for solving these problems. When read in the most simplistic way, perhaps the solution is "move towards androgyny! forcibly train yourselves to forget gender!" in which case, I simply disagree. It can be impossible to make people forget ideas that were imposed on them from birth. I wanted to know what the answer was to the duality question.<br /> The book does offer readers a passage that resonates somewhat with the Buddhist idea of the "middle path" as the most direct route to enlightenment. Genly Ai's task as an Envoy is to move towards "increase of knowledge. The augmentation of the complexity and intensity of the field of intelligent life. The enrichment of harmony and the greater glory of God" (pg. 34). In a similarly Buddhist way, perhaps Le Guin is purposefully leaving the question open encourage us to observe how we divide things into dualities, and take the first step on the path: self-inquiry.</p> http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/135#comments Response 4 Wed, 20 Feb 2008 09:32:31 +0000 surrealistic 135 at http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008 natural vs. unnatural in neuromancer http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/79 <p>Plot-wise, Neuromancer is probably one of the most convoluted books that I have ever read. Since it was difficult to stay with the story, I found myself observing how the characters related to the rich futuristic environment. What stood out to me the most was their relationship to the natural, represented both by human flesh and descriptions of the earth. </p> <p>In the world of Neuromancer, there is an overall attitude of cynicism and contempt towards the natural. Human flesh is referred to as "meat" and the characters view their bodies as inferior to their minds, which can interact with cyberspace and the matrix. Case often denotes certain ideas or activities as inferior by saying "that's a meat thing" and discorporation is glorified. For example, when he learns that he is going to ride behind Molly's eyes via a simulation, Case says to himself "cowboys didn't get into simstim, he thought, because that was basically just a meat toy"(pg 55). </p> <p>Two things keep the body from becoming completely useless: sex and death. The acknowledged beauty of human flesh is closely associated with women, Molly in particular. There are several passages that show Case enjoying Molly's body, focusing on different parts; he describes it as "her body was spare, neat, the muscles like a dancer's"(pg 44). However, one could say that Molly has made even the beauty of her body artificial and un-genuine by using it as a tool, part of her job as a prostitute. Death of the flesh, marked by the sight of blood, continues to be feared in the world of Neuromancer; so it is probably unlikely that anyone would actually want to lose their body, inferior as it may be to the machines. </p> <p>It also seems that nature or the natural (here meaning things like trees, oceans, animals, water, plants) cannot exist apart from the artificial realm of computers and technology. All of nature has been tampered with, modified, or manipulated by some artificial force; essentially, it's all fake. There are several passages where Case describes the color or sense impression that something natural gives him by relating it back to technology. For example, the very first sentence of the book is "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel"(pg 1). Another good example of this is when trees are used to show Case's unfamiliarity with nature: "The trees were small, gnarled, impossibly old, the result of genetic engineering and chemical manipulation. Case would have been hard-pressed to distinguish a pine from an oak, but a street boy's sense of style told him that these were too cute, too entirely and definitively treelike"(pg 128). </p> <p>In some ways these relationships to nature and the natural seem to be a direct comment on how we relate to nature in the real world today, or at least where we're headed. Things like oil drilling, bulldozing forests for economic gain, the presence of or denial of global warming, and the abundance of cosmetic plastic surgery suggest that our world is moving towards artificiality and the mass urbanization of the "Sprawl". People these days spend more time with their cell phones, IPods, video games, and other technology than they do out in nature or interacting face-to-face with one another, so this book could be seen as a potential look at where we might end up.</p> http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/79#comments Neuromancer Response 2 Wed, 06 Feb 2008 17:46:36 +0000 surrealistic 79 at http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008 observations on the status of women http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/42 <p>I ended up coming to this text from a general feminist perspective, since the dominant voices in the story are obviously male, and women are only seen in scattered instances, both inside and outside the military system. </p> <p>The good news is that Heinlein doesn't seem to hold the view on women that I expected him to express, which was of the "all women are objects, good for nothing but cooking, cleaning and sex" variety. Well, at least he doesn't hold it to an absolute extreme. Starship Troopers was first published in 1959, just before the sexual (and political) revolution of the 1960s; the ideal feminine image was likely still that of the happy homemaker.<br /> There are some scenes that do support this misogynistic view of women. For example, on page 27, Johnnie and his friend Carl run into another friend of theirs, Carmencita Ibanez, on the way to the military recruiters' office. She announces that she is signing up to become a pilot, and Johnnie remarks to himself: "Fact was, little Carmen was so ornamental that you just never thought about her being useful." </p> <p>Women are also treated as a form of visual entertainment, as Johnnie describes on pages 125-126: "I stood around and gawked...at girls. I hadn't realized how wonderful they were. Look, I'd approved of girls from the time I'd first noticed that the difference was more than that they dressed differently." Oh, okay; so as soon as the girls became sexually fascinating it was easier to 'approve' of them? Do they need that 'approval' in the first place?</p> <p>Military women seem to be a partial exception to this view. It is acknowledged in several instances that women make the sharpest and most creative pilots, such as Captain Deladrier, who is clearly in a position of some authority over the men on her ship. She is ultimately responsible for the success of their missions at the beginning and the end. When Johnnie notices that Carmen has shaved her head for the Navy, he expresses a deeper respect for her: "It does serve to set a Navy girl apart from civilian chicks; sort of a lodge pin, like the gold skulls for combat drops. It made Carmen look distinguished, gave her dignity, and for the first time I finally realized that she was an officer and a fighting man---as well as a very pretty girl." Of course, this also implies that the only way that women can obtain some dignity is through military service. </p> <p>Basically, this is something I wanted to open up to discussion. Are the views of women expressed in this book predictable and in line with the military perspective? Does Heinlein seem to be emphasizing the inferiority of women? or merely subjugating all his characters to the mighty military machine that he praises so much? Etc?</p> http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008/node/42#comments Response 1 Starship Troopers Wed, 30 Jan 2008 17:58:05 +0000 surrealistic 42 at http://machines.kfitz.info/55-2008