Post Four

For the last post, I discussed the presence of gender-identity-commentary within Butler’s story. Specifically it seemed a bit editorial at times, where she spoke with her own voice stronger than Lilith spoke with hers. I feel that my hypothesis still holds and is even changed to include a sort of homophobia. The further evidence is this:

Example 1:

“That thing will never touch me again if I have anything to do with it.” (169)

Paul is afraid and attributes homosexuality to Nikanj.

Example 2:

“The refusal to accept Nikanj’s sex frightened her because it reminded her of Paul Titus. She did not want to see Paul Titus in Jospeh.

‘It is isn’t male, Joseph.’

‘What difference does it make!’”

Butler adapts the argument slightly here to include a general fear of “the other.” He knows that Nikanj is not male but it doesn’t make a difference.

Example 3:

“ ‘What the hell is she saving herself for?’ Jean was demanding. ‘It’s her duty to get together with someone.’” (176)

Hypothesis: Butler is making a claim about the institution of gender roles and natural male/female interactions. She argues about a general fear of the other through Joseph and his fear of Nikanj and then within this idea of binaries, she applies that general idea to how everyone acts and pairs up in survival situations.


Return to the text:

I still agree with the hypothesis after looking over the examples more, and even think that it has been strengthened with the more recent readings. Specifically, there is the instance where Joseph exposes his own homophobia of sorts. Again here, Butler is playing with binaries and gender identities. Nikanj is not female, hence Jospeh’s disgust and anger, but at the same time it is not male either. Butler is arguing that Joseph comes from a world of binaries and this new world Joseph lives in does not have those same binaries. The binaries which Butler comments on are conditioned and cultured to the point where it’s difficult for characters to see the Oankali for what they actually are, not a humanized version of what they are. Within the context of hierarchy or social structure, this thread is still consistent with the rest of the novel, as Butler includes violent where sex is described as a woman’s duty. Pairing up is not a choice out of love for the people whom Lilith awakens. Pairing up is a means of survival and is a necessity. There is hardly any choice for the woman until Lilith comes and stops the violent men. If there is no sort of hierarchy, then there are no subservient duties.