Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Left Hand of Darkness Round Three: The Issue of Sex

While reading this book sex has been brought up quite a few times, but in a context that I am not very used to. It was talked about in passing, and in a way that was not how I am used to it being talked about. Many times sex is a very taboo subject, somethign that you only talk about with close friends. However, in this book it seems to be talked about quite a bit and without limitations. Just because they called it something else really does not change what it is: sex.

That being said there is a quote that related to this that I wanted to talk about. Page 177:
"Abstinence is entirely voluntary; indulgence is entirely acceptable. Sexual fear and sexual frustration are both extremely rare. This was the first case I had seen of the social purpose running counter to the sexual drive. Being a suppression, not merely a repression, it produces not frustration, but something more ominous, perhaps, in the long run: passivity."
passivity - the trait of remaining inactive; a lack of initiative (
Just for those of us who were not really sure what that word meant! I think it is very interesting that Le Guin has brought up the fact that in this world abstinence is entirely voluntary. I find this interesting because this world seems to have many more limitations than our modern world, and yet they seem to have more freedom with their bodies. While one can say that the choice to remain abstinence or not is a choice, I would have to disagree.

I was raised religious, and this country was founded on religious freedom. That be said, there are very few religions that make abstinence a choice rather than a requirement. Also, the choice of these people remaining abstinent is also interesting in the context that these people cannot even join in the kemmering until they are 17 (i believe that is what it said...). That means if you consider a 17 year old basically an adult: there is no underage sex. There is no sex before marriage since in this world you can not have promiscuous sex like you can in our world. So abstinence is a choice in the purest form of the word. When looking at how many religions are against birth control, that is one way to see that abstinence is not a choice. Some religions believe that birth control should not be administered because there is really no basis for it since sex before marriage is unacceptable. Whether that is the case or not is not something that I even want to touch. I want to look at the fact that we do not have freedom with out bodies, as much as we believe that we do. In high school we are given sex-ed, however this is abstinence based sex ed. We are bombarded with situations that show how destructive sex can be when youa re so young/unmarried.

The other thing that is discussed is th fact that "indulgence is entirely acceptable." In our culture it seems that it is the opposite. When people are "indulgent" in sex they are usually labeled with names like "whore" and "slut" especially if you are a woman... does not seem to be a problem in a world with no gender....

The other thing about this quote that I found interesting was the use of the word "passivity". The definition I found states a lack of initiative. I found this interesting... In a world where sex is something that is routine, at a certain time of the month, with no persecution, there is a lack of initiative.... That in a way makes me thing WHY sex is such a big deal in our culture. Is it perhaps because it is taboo? Would sex be as good if it wasn't seen as so bad? I hate to quote Rihanna... but her song says "I may be bad but I'm perfectly good at it." Why is the word bad associated with sex at all? Is sex not something that is used to procreate and used to show deep affection for someone that we love? If it was just that instead of this taboo thing, would it be seen as bad still?

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Left Hand of Darkness: Round Two: The Children of Gethenian

So, I was really excited that we did not talk about this in class because I really wanted to blog about this. So, that being said...

Reading this section was a bit easier (except for Chapter 12 because I have no idea WHAT was going on....) and I started to understand the world that Le Guin was trying to create a little better.

The passages I wanted to talk about is when children were discussed. The first one is one page 98-99:
"It was my first chance to see much of Gethenian children... the clan looked after its own; nobody and everybody was responsible for them. They were a wild lot, chasing about over those fog-hidden hills and beaches. When I could round one up long enough to talk, I found them shy, proud, and immensely trustful.
      The parental instinct varies as widely on Gethen as anywhere. One can't generalize. I never saw a Karhider hit a child. I have seen one speak very angrily to a child. Their tenderness toward their children struck me as being profound, effective, and almost wholly unposessive.Only in the unpossessive does it perhaps differ from what we call the "maternal" instinct. I suspect that the distinction between a maternal and a paternal instinct is scarcely worth making; the parental instinct, the wish to protect, to further, is not a sex-linked characteristic..."
The other quote is on page 115:
No child over a year old live with its parent or parents; all are brought up in the Commensal Hearths. There is no rank by descent. Private wills are not legal: a man dying leaves his fortune to the state. All start equal."

Ok, so, that being said. I think these statements are really interesting. As of now I have quite a few male and female friends that are in the middle of a custody battle with their child's other parent. When I look at how the court proceeding is going there is always favoritism towards one parent over the other, and I never understood it. As far as I know there is no factual evidence out there that states that a mother loves their child more than the father, or vice a versa. That being said, why are mothers always the parents who are portrayed to love their children more? I think it is unfair, and complete gender stereotyping. As women we always hate when guys diminish us in any way, but it always seems to be a mother who always implies that it is her who loves her child more. I know fathers who have to raise their children by themselves because the mothers ditched too. It is not a male only characteristic.....

The other thing that I loved that this pointed out is just the characteristics of the children. "shy, proud, and immensely trustful." I thought, trustful? That is how kids are! But then I thought of a world where children could be trustful... where children could be children. I remember when I was a kid, my mother had to go through my Halloween candy. We were told to only go to houses, if we needed help, that had the neighborhood watch pictures in the windows. We were not to go too far from home. We had to have our phone number memorized. And then I think about the fact that I am 22... and I can not imagine what kids now a days have to go through. I realize that some of these things are the fact that parents are overprotective, however, there is some reason to it. What if we lived in a world where our children could be children? Where the could run around and do what they please and just have fun? They didn't have to worry about worries that only adults should worry about? I think that is a world that I would love to raise children in!

The other thing that I really liked that Le Guin brought up was the fact that all children start equal. While it is hard to imagine a world where children are not raised by their parents, it is a breath of fresh air to see something where children are not punished nor advanced for their parents actions. It would be such a good thing for every child to have the same opportunity. Obviously, no matter what anyone in our world does, that would never be possible, but it is something that would be nice to imagine. A world where literally no child is left behind.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Textual Vamperism in the Twilight Saga Drawing Feminist Life from Jane Eyre and Teen Fantasy Fiction by Kristina Deffenbacher and Mikayla Zagoria-Moffet

So, I am still reading through the "Bringing Light to Twilight" Book, and there is a ton of seperate articles that I want to write about. So today I chose this one. Going through the book I marked a lot of places that I liked what the writers were saying, and this was the section in the book with the most marks!

The authors start by discussing the similarities between Jane Eyre and Bella Swan. Another thing that is discussed at length is the helplessness of a human female versus the strength of a vampire female.

Throughout the book horrible things seem to happen to the girls while they are human: Rosalie gets raped, Bella and Alice get attached and almost killed (by the same vampire no less), and obviously there are countless other times that Bella is nearly killed. However, all of this changed when they are changed into a vampire.

When I was reading this section I related it a lot to growing up.As a child (and even a teenager I suppose) girls are often in the position of being saved. Growing up, I had two older brothers and a father, and they were always there to save me. They were there when I needed them to protect me in many ways. However, as I grew up, I needed them less and less. I no longer needed them to do things like open jars or lift heavy things. I grew into a woman who was capable of doing those things myself.

That being said, that is how I look at Bella. Bella is always the helpless victim and always in need of a man to save her. However, when she becomes a vampire she grows up, as does Rosalie and Alice. When Bella became a vampire she grew out of the things that held her back when she was a young girl/human.

At the end of this section the authors say something that I really like, that I wish other people would realize about Bella:
"Bella's characterization is read by many fans of the saga as actualized from the beginning--she knows what she wants, pursues that goal in spite of obstacles, and does not have a crisis conscience along the way.Her ability in the end to maintain a loving, sexual relationship and act as a self-reliant, fearless agent, to be a devoted mother and community defender, endows Bella with a heroism desired by many young readers and feminists alike." (Page 40)
I love that the authors realized this angle of the story. Most times when I read about Twilight someone is always bashing Bella as a cowardly person who is love crazy. However, I think that she is a strong woman. She knows what she wants and she goes for it. Just because what she wants is not to become president or rule the world, that does not mean that she does not go for what she wants. She realizes she wants Edward, and she goes for it. What is more feminist than that?