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The Stone Gods by: Jeanette Winterson (2007)

 When can you consider something a non-human person? Spike is a part of this super species of robots that are really human like called the “Robo sapiens.” These robots are made to look like humans. Spike is described as “drop- dead gorgeous” (28). She was created to go to space for three years with spacemen. These robots can retain a lot of information so I assume that was part of the reason that she went as well. However, it was very clear that her main reason for being on the ship was so that she can be of use to the men.

My first reaction to Spike saying “I used up three silicon-lined vaginas” (28) was that it was gross, but “hey she’s not real so whatever.” Then later we see that Spike starts to get a mind of her own. She is supposed to get “wiped clean” but she doesn’t want to. She asks Billie will she help her escape. This made me concerned because this showed me that she has feeling and is beginning to process things and evolve like a human.

So when can you call a robot a non-human person? Even though we as humans are more supreme and are above robots, However,  when they start having feeling and being concerned about what is going on with them should we be concerned? I think that when we create robots and give them the ability to reason we should then realized that they might begin to think for themselves. They are just movies but, this is the idea that fueled Terminator and I ROBOT. In these movies Robots began to feel and reason with out the assistance of humans. These robots eventually became killers. We don’t expect for thing like this to happen, but it needs to be thought about when creating a super species of robots.

February 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

“AAAHH!!! Real Monsters”

I believe that the Oankali aliens in the book Dawn by Octavia Butler are the most alien of all the stories and novels that we have read. It is easy to believe this because aliens that were in the other stories were very human like. I personally never really got a true feeling that these extraterrestrial characters were very different from us. There were a couple of small differences in some characters anatomies, such as the third breast that the women had in “Wives” and the skin of the Martian in “The Fate of Poisedonia,” but they lived amongst humans and seemed unusual to almost no one. When first reading about “Jdahya,” Lilith described him as “Medusa” (13). Not too many of the other stories have descriptions of the aliens that were greatly non-human like by the characters if they even cared. The Oankali aliens in this story are “Real Monsters.”

When reading the descriptions that Lilith gave of the Olankali, I cringed because I was so very grossed out. “Some of the hair writhed independently, a nest of snakes, driven in all directions” (pg 13), these line particularly made my skin crawl. The Oankali don’t have the same sensory organs that we have. What they use to talk, see and listen are their tentacles. They also have an extra set of limbs just below their arms. They are so different in their biology, customs and eating habits as well. For example they only eat food that is grown; Lilith can’t eat meat because they are against the killing animals nor would they allow her to kill the animals (90). As the story continues we learn so much more about the Oankali that makes them so much different than humans.

I think that Butler portrays them this ways so that we can see their differences and believe right along with Lilith that they are incapable of restoring the human race on earth because they know not enough about them. They have studied the Humans and while they thought they knew everything about the humans they did not know that Paul Titus would react so vulgarly to Lilith. That whole scene just proved that for the Oankali to really know the humans they need to study more than just their DNA. I think that this is part of Butler’s reason for describing the aliens to be so non-human like.

February 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Female Man By:Joanna Russ (1937)

When reading this story I noticed an immediate similarity to a story that we recently read Woman on the Edge of Time. The future worlds that both of these stories present are similar in many ways. One similarity that I found particularly interesting was the lack of monogamy in both future worlds. They both introduce a Female dominant society, where naturally I would not think that polygamy would be something that would be praised. However it was understandable in Mattapoisett because they still had men. In Whilaway where there are no men at all, I found it interesting that monogamy was not something that they cared about. I was anxious to read how life without men would be while reading this story and I have to say I was a little disappointed.

The absence of men in this Whileaway to me doesn’t seem to make the society any better. When finding out that there were no men naturally I thought this must be a world where everyone is happy and are equals. I expected for there to be no violence but of course the people would be able to defend themselves. For the most part Whileaway is what I expected. However I wonder does there have to be a lack of monogamy in a society for it to be happy and fair. Is that what people really want? For both Mattapoisett and Whileaway, the people get to have more than one mate and it is perfectly acceptable.

Another shocker to me about Whileaway was how their children are raised. Very similar to how they are raised in Mattapoisett where they spend little time at home with their mother. They are considered adults by the age of 13 in both stories. I think that it is interesting how this society of women kind of neglects traditional views and desires of women. Women naturally want to be mothers and take care of their children. Also, naturally, most women want one man/mate that they can spend the rest of their life with. Whileaway and Mattapoisett both present contradicting views in my opinion to wants of women.

February 13, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

“What I Didn’t See” Karen Joy Fowler (2002)

While reading “What I Didn’t See” by Karen Joy Fowler, I could definitely see how racism and anthropocentrism work together in this story. There is a clear view of anthropocentrism in the way that the Gorillas are treated when the men find out about “Beverly’s disappearance.” We can also tie the idea of anthropocentrism into the racism that the narrator has towards the native people.

From the very beginning of the story we know that the narrator does not like or respect the natives. When the father at the mission tells her the story of the natives former cannibalism, she decided then that she had no respect for them. When told of a saying that the natives have “working together, a thousand spiders can tie up a lion” (342) she immediately thought that it was a ridiculous saying and that the natives were ignorant to lives of spiders. She says “But they don’t work together, do they? The blacks haven’t noticed. Science is observation and Africa produces no scientist” (343). From this we can see the how she thinks of the natives. The fact that she has discriminated against this group of people because of their past and their lack of scientific knowledge, is racism. She also says in the beginning of the story that washing the dishes is a job for the natives (341). This to me just seemed like she is reducing them as less than humans. She makes them seem to be beneath her just as the gorillas are beneath the men enough for them to kill them so freely when Beverly disappears.  

The men have no idea what happens to Beverly. They don’t know if she was taken by gorillas like the story the Belgian told of women being captured by gorillas, or if she ran off or was taken by one of the natives. However because they are men and need someone to blame they take their frustrations out on the gorillas. They go on a rampage of killing the gorillas because they are human and they can. Granted they were hunting gorillas anyway so that they could display their bodies in a museum, there purpose was not to kill a large amount. Who cares about the lives of a different species? Obviously they can’t go killing the porters if they had a hunch that they had something to do with her disappearance. Being able to control and or manipulate another species for personal profit or gain is a characteristic of anthropocentrism.

 * Citations refer to the edition in Daughters of Earth: Feminist science fiction in the twentieth century (2006, Wesleyan).

February 7, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Biology or Race?

Is the short story “The Morning and the Evening and in the Night” by Octavia E. Butler (1987), I definitely think that the Butler is using this biological situation to underline a more serious race issue. The people in this story with  Duryea-Gode disease were outcasts. They were not accepted in society once people were aware of their condition. They were stereotyped just as people from different races were stereotyped when this story was written and today. I believe that Butler used these to express a more prevalent issue of race.

The people with the disease had to go through many different forms discrimination and social out casting. “Non DGDs say that something about us makes us good in sciences- genetics, molecular biology and biochemistry” (p. 266). I think that Butler used this to exhibit how different races are stereotyped in society. This is a stereotype that is often even often given to Asian people today. This race of people being smart especially in similar subjects to the ones listed above is something that may not seem to be cruel stereotypes but they are. Even more are they harsh when we come across Asians that aren’t as smart as we thought them to be. That’s when the ridicule starts.

 The DGD people wore an emblem around their necks to let medical people know their condition in case of an emergency. This emblem seemed to stand for more than just a necklace for medical officials. It was a label. When people saw it they knew what these people were, and because they knew they talked about them and told others so that they would stay away from them. This could be paralleled with the struggle of being black in 60’s, 70’s 80’s and still today. Black people were and still are labeled by the color of their skin to be uneducated and violent and that is often not the case. However, because of their label they were and still are talked about and not seen as a prominent race.

After reading the article after the story and finding out that Butler was Black I felt even more that she used a biological disorder to exemplify the issues that people go through based on their race. It would not have been uncommon for herself to have faced some of the same issues or for her to have seen things of this nature take place.  

 * Citations refer to the edition in Daughters of Earth: Feminist science fiction in the twentieth century (2006, Wesleyan).

January 30, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Power in Breast Feeding

As I was reading this book Woman on the Edge of Time, by: Marge Piercy (1976),  I couldn’t help but feel just as disturbed as Connie felt about the relationships that the women in the future share with the men and the children in the future. The women of the future don’t birth their and children however, the role of the mother is still very important. It is so important that they have three mothers and not all of them have to be female. They can be male and the males can take care of the children just as efficiently as a woman could because they can breast feed.   

Yes breast feed! I know it’s crazy, but it is part of what gives the women in this society the power that they have. It angers Connie that the men are given this right that is supposed to give women pleasure in being a mother. She says in chapter seven “they have given it all up, they have let men steal from them the last remnants of ancient power, those sealed in blood and milk” (pg 126). Connie feels that they are giving men more power by allowing them the gift which rightfully and only belongs to women, but I think that it gives the women of the future more power and more equality amongst them and the men. This is obviously not the only reason why the women have such a prevailing role in this future world but, it along with them not physically birthing their children, definitely contributes.

Women are naturally seen as the ones to take care of the home and the children, but giving men such a responsibility like breast feeding definitely levels the playing field. It is a little disturbing to think about and it was very awkward for me to read about it, but I think that it is almost necessary to give men womanly features to really promote an equal society. Whether it be normal for them to be stay at home dads, primarily be the one to cook and clean or in this case breast feed it definitely levels the playing field.

January 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“And I awoke and found me here on the Cold Hills side,” James Tiptree Jr. (1972)

As I was reading this short story by James Tiptree Jr., I couldn’t help but notice the hidden betrayal of women as a sex symbol. The story is about a reporter and his conversation with another man at a space station. The reporter is being told a story by this redheaded man about the sexual obsession of aliens that human men posses. While reading this I couldn’t help but think that obsession was not about aliens but about women and mans’ struggle with monogamy.  The story talks about how the aliens and come to earth and men are obsessed with trying to have sex with them despite the fact that there are human women whom they are meant to have sex and conceive with.

What I got from this story was that men are never satisfied and this is why women are treated so disrespectfully and poorly sexually. The Alien in this story is just a symbol for the other woman or the mistress that married or committed men are not supposed to have. The redheaded man who is married gave examples of the way men think about pursuing what they are not supposed to have,  by saying  “anything different-colored, different nose, ass, anything, man has to fuck it or die trying.” (166). Shortly after that he says “do you think that I can’t touch my own wife” (166) implying that he has a wife that he can have sexually but he wants what different and new.

This is the issue that has always been with men and relationships. I man has a wife or a girlfriend but is still so tempted by the new “ass or nose” that they see and thus they must have it. So women have this problem with not being able to be in a monogamous relationship. After realizing that the author was a woman I feel like this message could have definitely been something that she was trying to display.  As a woman this issue of monogamy and male satisfaction could have been something that she was facing at the time of writing the story and she just decided to throw it in the story.

* Citations refer to the edition in Daughters of the Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century (2006, Wesleyan).

January 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

“Created He Them,” Alice Eleanor Jones 1955

In the short story by Alice Eleanor Jones “Created He Them” I believe that there is a parallel between the way the wife Ann is treated by her husband and the way that he is treated at work. Ann seems to be a good wife. She cooks, she cleans and she keeps the kids quiet and out of sight so that they do not disturb her husband while he gets ready for work. She prepares his breakfast with care and obviously he has things that he likes a certain way. For example, his coffee is to be “cooled but to a certain degree” (67), he likes apple jelly with his toast, and he does not like his bacon to be too crispy. She has to be very careful and particular when making his meals or he gets angry. All her efforts often seem to be overlooked and just not good enough.  Can we say the same about Henry and the way that he is treated at work?

 When Henry comes home from work he tells Ann that he is very easy to get along with and yet he still has problem with the other men at work. He says that “they are all against him” (73). So at this job where “he does twice as much work as everyone else” (73) and is easy to get along with he is not liked and or appreciated.  

 The way the wife is being treated by her husband although, she makes such an effort to be a good wife by cooking, cleaning and be considerate of him with the children she is still chastised for the little things that are beyond her control such as, the market being out of eggs and jelly. She tries to make it easy for him to get ready for work and she still disappoints him. The tables seemed to be turned at Henry’s work with him being the one putting forth a lot of effort and it going unnoticed. He is easy to get along with and he is very conscious that he is being this way, but still he seems to have everyone against him.

In this story two people are affected very similarly, but in two different situations. One way to think of this situation is to just say “that’s what he gets.” He treats his wife poorly so he suffers for his actions at work. Is that the message that the story is sending for this particular situation? If you treat people one way eventually it will come back to you in some sense. Or you can think of the message being about hierarchy. In Ann’s home Henry is the hierarchy; However, at work he isn’t and the way he is treated proves this. It seems that no matter how hard you work or how good of a person you are, unless you are at the top your work and will often be underappreciated. This story definitely displays the this idea of hierarchy.

 * Citations refer to the edition in Daughters of the Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century (2006, Wesleyan).

January 9, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment