“Prose is Architecture"

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Handmaids Tale.
Women vs Men?
In the text of The Handmaid’s Tale, it is clear that the otherness is women in general. This book might be considered as a feminist work of literature or a critique on feminism. Or maybe is a look onto men’s frustration towards women as the commander says “The problem wasn’t only with the women, he says. The main problem was with the men.” What are the possibilities of this to be true, “what does a woman want?” is a question that Fraud was unable to answer despite "thirty years of research into the feminine soul." The Commander suggests that feminism and the sexual revolution left men without a purpose in life. With their former roles as women’s protectors taken away, and with women suddenly behaving as equals, men were set adrift. At the same time, changing sexual mores meant that sex became so easy to obtain that it lost meaning, creating what the Commander calls an “inability to feel.” By making themselves soldiers, providers, and caretakers of society again, men have meaning restored to their lives, men have control once again. This eliminates the contributions needed by women in society other than being a vehicle of reproduction. If this where to be a feminist Novel then the ending will sound more like all women standing for their rights and rebelling against the Giledean State and wining the war on their own, a classical heroic novel, this did not happen.
Considering that the “Handmaid’s Tale” is an extreme tale, touches upon the “what if factor” and how women have become more independent of men and more dependent of themselves. Since the early 70’s women started entering the work force after college instead of getting married and becoming a housewife. Before this women were taught to think differently as Betty Friedan says, “They were taught to pity the neurotic, unfeminine, unhappy women who wanted to be poets or physicists or presidents. They learned that truly feminine women do not want careers, higher education, political rights--the independence and the opportunities that the old-fashioned feminists fought for.” This sounds very similar to the ideas that “Gileadean society” was teaching women to live their lives from as a code of living. Women cannot vote, hold property or jobs, read, or do anything else that might allow them to become subversive or independent and thereby undermine their husbands or the state. Despite all of Gilead’s pro-women rhetoric, such subjugation creates a society in which women are treated as subhuman. They are reduced to their fertility, treated as nothing more than a set of ovaries and a womb, in order for men to regain control. In the article “I want a Wife: written in 1979 by Judy Syfers. States that while she was at home as a housewife ironing she was thinking of one of her recently divorced male friend is currently looking for a new wife, while his ex-wife is taking care of their child. Then she continues saying “I too would like to have a wife…” Through out the article she list the things her wife would do for her while she goes back to school, goes on to get a job, and if she finds another wife more suitable than the own she already has she would have the liberty to replace her. At the end she concludes by saying “My god who wouldn’t want a wife?” This article, promoted forward thinking for women into becoming more independent during the early seventies, therefore marriage becoming only a choice rather a social obligation. Society today is more dependent on women in all areas of the social economical structure as well as being the main factor of our economy today. Same as the women in the novel pre Gileadean society In the novel the Gileadean society was controlled by men, when women try to rebel against the totalitarian rule of the Gileadean State it was just a constant struggle. Single women like Moira try to rebel against a whole army of men, it would be unlikely they would succeed; the only possibility would be escaping or suicide. The next possible solution would be for a group of women to unite and fight in a military combat situation against a male dominated army. Is hard to say who will win, but the probabilities of the male army winning that war will be high. With that said women in the Gileadean society either became use to the idea of their faith and became comfortably num in their designated position in society, for example Offred. In Case of Moira after embodying resistance for most of the novel, against the Gileadean authority or even male authority, her fighting spirit was broken at the end, and she has become resigned to her fate. Moira comes to exemplify the way a totalitarian state can crush even the most independent spirit.

In conclusion in order to have a successful rebellion both women and men had to work together to achieve their goal therefore admitting that women need men and vise versa in a different level other than procreation. In novel, the resistance where both male and female: for the most part male being the enforcers and the women being the informants, working together as a whole, as a unit as one therefore becoming a pre Gileadean society again. The novel presents a constant need for both sexes, working as a whole in order to have a balanced working society.

Monday, April 03, 2006

"Double-Consciousness"
On M. Butterfly there are three examples of what DuBois calls "double-consciousness". The Oriental Culture is perceived by the rest of the world as a inferior culture, but as describe by Hwang The Oriental culture sees itself as the dominant culture. At the same time the characters also demonstrates what DuBois calls "double-consciousness" which are Song and Gallimard. This two characters at the beginning as well as the end of the play go through different realizations of themselves and of what societies view them as. The "double-consciousness" that Song revels that everyone perceives her as a beautiful and very intelligent woman, with probable intentions of winding up in a relationship with a foreigner. Song sees herself as a patriot doing her job by obtaining vital information form this foreigner called Gillmard for her country. As the story unveils itself so does song. The veil is taken away song is a “he” the country sees him as a traitor for being in an intimate relation ship with another man. Song sees himself again as patriot but also as a woman. Gallimard sees himself as not an unattractive man in the Beijing streets, but what society in china saw him as a white man, a westerner, and “adventurous imperialist.” At the end of the play Gillmard was seen as a joke and a traitor in society but he saw himself as “Madam Butterfly”.