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ENG237 October 3 - Aliens part 3

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Michael Johnstone

ENG237 – October 3, 2012 1 Butler's Dawn Parts III and IV - "We Stay Human"  What does it mean to be human? What is the human? o The huge debate between the humans in parts 3 and 4  How do sex and gender influence social organization?  Status of the body  The central debate is what makes a human, human o What counts as the fundamental traits of being human o What is it about the Oankali and what they offer that are seen as threats to the human and what it means to be a human  Lilith's role is that of 'parent' for these 40 humans that she has to awaken  With this set-up the Oankali are reinforcing the power structure that is a source of conflict among the humans  Lilith's very strangeness that has been provided by the Oankali aids the conflict between her and the other humans o Her comfort with the Oankali and knowledge of the Oankali is disturbing and troubling to the other humans  Lilith gives reasons for waiting to wake up Curt because he's a man who is physically powerful and therefore she perceives him as a threat to getting the humans out because if he doesn't believe anything he could hurt them and hurt the validity of what Lilith is trying to do o She's awakening Celene first so that Curt can protect her and take her under his wings so that he won't be a threat to the group o The important thing is the gender dynamics because she doesn't awaken him because he's a physical and ideoliological threat as a man  Awakens less men "in the hope of minimizing violence" o We get a sense of how social organizations play out among humans  Lilith appears to be relying on traditional notions of how sex leads to gender roles  It's not just that Lilith is managing the awakenings but also there is a heterosexual organization among the group o There's no doubt that men and women will pair together o There's a reinforcing of a heterosexual social arrangement both through Lilith and through the people who are awakened  It’s the men who are the backbone to the rebellion against the fact that they're on a ship and are under the watch of the Oankali o Lead by Curt who Lilith knew would be a problem before awakening him  Curt kills Joseph and justifies it because he's says that he's killed one of the Oankali's animals o Sees those who have been changed by the Oankali or who are sympathetic to the Oankali as not being human as being one of the Oankali's animals  Even after the fight, it's still a man (Gabriel) who has a hate and a distrust of the Oankali and therefore of Lilith o He's angry about the whole situation in the woods and he calls Lilith the Oankali's whore o He places all the blame on Lilith because of her connection to the Oankali o This is another instance of assertion of power by a male over a women ENG237 – October 3, 2012 2 o By being their whore, Lilith threatens the group's understanding of what it means to be human  Nancy Jesser o Female = devoted to self-sacrifice in the name of nurturing at one's own expense and the urging of maternal instincts o There is no destabilizing the scientific reifications of sex/gender and little to dismantle a normative heterosexuality that demands stable sex/gender positions o Butler takes the pragmatic view that men are aggressive and violent disproportionately and social treatments and conditions demand that they be watched, controlled and modified o Butler is bound to the explanatory and predictive power of genetic sexual difference o Describes Butler as essentialist in her portrayal of sex/gender behaviours and attitudes  Butler's writing reinforces the gender
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