Tuesday, March 3, 2009


The short stories by James Tiptree create dystopic moments in which the norms of sex and gender are called into question. Each of the stories involve characters struggling with identity and a desire for wholeness in the face of larger structural forces beyond their control. I couldn't help but recall Foucault's analysis of sexuality and power while reading the stories of Dr. Alice B. Sheldon. Moreover, the themes in Tiptree easily resonates with issues taken up by Phillip K. Dick and others when it comes to the ideas she presents on surveillance and human perception.

Alongside these ideas I must say that I am struck by how often the authors we're studying-- Huxley, Piercy, and now Tiptree/Sheldon in "The Women That Men Don't See" -- turn to Native American cultural motifs as answers to the possibility of utopia. I must say, however, that I'm concerned with how the sypmbolic meaning and appropriation of native cultures is used by these authors because, despite the best intentions, a definite residue of cultural exoticism and the racialist trope of the noble savage abounds. I'm not sure that this is a problem about which the authors are fully aware, thus making their display of the general attitude all the more disconcerting.
Sadly, although the writers we have (for the most part) demonstrated their progressiveness in the area of gender and sexuality, they are clearly, hopelessly conventional as far as their ideas on race go.

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