Saturday, February 18, 2017

Feminist Utopia Can Paint an Incorrect Picture

Houston, Houston, Do You Read? is a feminist utopia that begins with three astronauts, Bud, Dave, and Lorimer, floating in space trying to reach NASA in Houston. Instead, they contact females in space on the ship Gloria. They soon learn that, after a solar flare, the male astronauts were sent centuries in the future where a plague has killed all men and many of the women on Earth. At the present of the story, there exist 2 million women with 11,000 different genotypes, meaning they reproduce via cloning. The men were unwittingly given a drug to reveal their true selves and their opinion on the women. Bud tries to rape one of the women while Dave attempts to take control of the ship because, to him, God commands men to control women. Lorimer, however, realizes that the women are performing an experiment on the men to see if they are fit to assimilate into the current society. He then realizes that after Bud and Dave’s reactions, the three men are soon to be killed.
                Houston, Houston, Do You Read? critiques the men in modern society as misogynistic and controlling over women. While this gender role might have been in place at the time, I feel as though the messages behind the work cast a negative blanket over the perceived opinions of all men within our Western society. Although men, especially white men like the three astronauts are, are extremely privileged on a societal level, painting this stereotype of all men as misogynistic through the characters in the novella actually go against the principles of diversity. Oftentimes, the idea of not applying stereotypes to people is a staple of champions of diversity. This application of stereotypes oftentimes goes both ways, as people assume all men act in the same manner to Bud and Dave.

                This same view of men as poisonous continues into When It Changed. In the story, an all-female society is visited by male astronauts and similar negative effects ensue. As with Houston, Houston, Do You Read?, When it Changed creates a negative image of men as controlling and over-bearing. While this may be true for some men, both stories seem to create a mentality that most, if not all men, act in the manner of Bud, Dave and the astronauts from When it Changed. The language in the two stories, especially in the rape scene in Houston, Houston, Do You Read? is harsh and persists this equally harsh view of men within the stories. 


The neurotic view of men in society exist within both stories. While I am sure that each author had their claims to this fear, I feel as though the general population of men in our society are not this over-bearing and blatantly sexual, like Bud, or as overtly domineering about societal structure, like with Dave and the Russian astronauts. While my belief, I feel, exists within a major portion of the population, often times the most extreme views are the loudest. To me, the authors of both "Houston, Houston, Do you Read" and "When it Changed" were critiquing the overly masculine population that feeds off their own egos and power (ahem Donald).

That being said, the issue with the men, especially in "When it Changed", is that they expect to take control immediately. The actions of the men in the second story reflect the actions of the British colonists when they came to America. The women, the metaphorical Native Americans/American Indians/Indians (IDK what to call the group, I'm just trying to not be wrong), are due to be forced to adapt to the male social structure that exists on Earth. The issue with the actions of the men is not that their men, but that they still possess the ideals of Manifest Destiny that destroys pre-existing societies. To me, the wrong is not that their men, but rather they are following this 1800's ideology. They just happen to be men. One could easily flip this story around and have it be a racial conversation. The author just happens to be critiquing men in this piece. 

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