Posts Tagged ‘Sexism’

Journal #6: Female Favoritism in Octavia Butler’s Work

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

In our rapidly changing society there has always been a few issue that we have remained problematic for our culture as a group, and one of those issues is gender equality and the issues associated with it as a whole. Like many other genres of literature Science Fiction is no different in that it still deals with the issue of gender and sexuality. A writers own personal conceptions and biases can often shadow their work and Octavia Butler is a perfect example of this.

I am currently in Dr. Tweedy’s Octavia Butler Senior Seminar and, besides being an excellent pairing with this course, it has also afforded me the opportunity to become completely immersed in Butler and her interesting creative mind.

Recently we read one of  her three books that have been compiled into the Lilith’s Brood series called Dawn. In this novel, select members of the human race have been harvested and stored to be taken back to and woken at a much later time. A select human, Lilith is chosen to be the first of the humans to be woken by her alien captures, the Oankali. Lilith must me taught not to fear them at first and is then trained on how to relate to her captures. She is then seated with the huge responsibility of waking all of her fellow humans and helping them to acclimate to their new surroundings. Though Lilith is very unsure of how her fellow humans will take the shock of their interesting and scary situation, she decides that it will be best for her to wake only women first. She claims that women will be more receptive to the change and less violent towards the Oankali.

Though Lilith is only a mear character in a single work of Butler’s, this sexist undertone is also mirrored in a few of her other works. For instance, Butler seems to always choose strong female characters to play the role of the protagonist, such as the strong childlike fifty-something year-old half human, half Ina, Shori, in her vampire novel, Fledgling. Another prime example of Butler’s favoritism towards women is the strong black women, Dena who learns that she is a sort of time traveler in her hit novel Kindred. Through my various readings of Butler’s work I conclude that her strong attraction to independent empowered female protagonist could mirror her own personal desire for strong women.