Tag Archive: monster


Stryker’s article on how the transgender should reclaim the word “monster” is insulting. I am not trans myself, so I can’t speak much about the topic; however, I have never heard the term be used towards trans, and therefore cannot agree with Stryker’s argument. She had a weak theory that I cannot accept. However, I can see the connection she makes towards Frankenstein, yet her argument is not strong enough to gain my attention overall.

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In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, we know that the Creature is victim to a society that alienates it because of its difference in appearance. But what does this have in connection with gender and sexuality as described through the eyes of a transsexual individual?

Jessica Rae Fisher, a trans woman writer, voices her journey in finding herself through both Frankenstein and an essay written by Susan Striker within her blog post I am Frankenstein’s Monster: An echo of Susan Striker’s call to action. She speaks about the comparing of transgender people to Victor Frankenstein’s creation and how “[she] was enthralled” when first hearing of the idea. Fisher’s experience with this idea began with her exposure to an excerpt in Striker’s essay, My Words To Victor Frankenstein Above The Village Of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage,  that spoke about “a transsexual woman in Seattle [who] wrote in her journal, ‘I wish I was anatomically ‘normal’ so I could go swimming…But no, I’m a mutant, Frankenstein’s monster'” (Striker, 246). What really stood out to Fisher was the fact that this woman was driven to suicide two months after documenting this thought and it made her wonder, back when she was a 19 or 20 year old reading about it, whether she “would live past 22”. Although she has now surpassed the age she doubted living to, Fisher stresses that the transgender community is yet to be accepted and instead “remain no more than monsters”. Despite this, Fisher clings to other excerpts from Striker’s essay that speak of “asserting [ones] worth as a monster” and “[allowing your] rage [to] inform your actions and your actions transform you as you struggle to transform the world” (Striker, 254).

Now, you may be thinking, “How exactly does this connect with Frankenstein?’. Well, in the same way that Fisher explains what transgender individuals go though when dealing with society, Shelley depicts when writing about the Creatures first encounter with humans. The Creature, abandoned by its creator and left to fend for its own, encounters some villagers of which it frightens causing “the whole village [to be] roused; some fled, some attacked [it]” (Shelley, 98). This treatment of the Creature is similar to that of the woman from Seattle that Fisher speaks about in her blog post when she says, “What drove her to such despair was the exclusion she experienced in Seattle’s queer community, some members of which opposed Filisa’s participation because of her transsexuality”.  Here, although not physically, this woman was attacked like the Creature was at the hands of the villagers. Similarly, Victor abandoned his creation and left it to fend for its own the night he finally succeeded in giving the Creature life, “not [daring] to return to the apartment which [he] inhabited” (Shelley, 61). This mirrors Fisher’s information regarding The Seattle Bisexual Women’s Network when they “announced that if it admitted transsexuals, it would no longer be a woman’s organization” and that “the boys can take care of themselves”. Both this woman in Seattle and the Creature in Frankenstein were left on their own, alienated because of their subjective “differences” to society.

In the end, it is undoubtedly true that we live in a society full of unacceptance and exclusion for all those of which fail to conform to the “norm”. If you are different to what is viewed as “common” what is in store for you is labeling and use of false pronouns and “neopronouns”. However, Fisher makes it clear that what is to be learned here is “we should reclaim the words monster and creature. I think that if the villager want to see us as unnatural, that we should embrace that”. Being different is something that has proven to be difficult, but accepting that you are not “normal” is what will ultimately help you live though it.

– Juanita Espinoza

 

In Jessica Fisher’s article, “I am Frankenstein’s Monster: An Echo of Susan Stryker’s Call to Action”, she describes the inevitable perilous lives of marginalized people, particularly, the transgender community. Moreover, she purports that the antidote to this chaotic life is the use of their “transgender rage” -fueled by the reclamation of words used to demean the transgender community-  in a conducive manner to somehow change society. This means of combatting the chaos that transgender people will inevitably face is not only detrimental to the advancement of their cause but also to their personal development.

In Susan Striker’s essay, – which was the inspiration of Fisher’s article- she compares the creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to the transgender body. Both Fisher and Striker use the words “monster” to describe themselves almost as a stand against the oppressive society which will inexorably judge them. “The transexual body is an unnatural body. It is the product of medical science. It is a technological construction. It is flesh torn apart and sewn together again in a shape other than that in which it was born” (Striker p. 238). Furthermore, both Stryker and Fisher use the reclamation of words like this to “fuel their rage” which they would eventually use to further their cause. She states, “For me, it is time to dull the impact these words have when used against us. It is well worth embracing who we are as monsters. It isn’t our responsibility to make the villagers understand or accept us, and maybe, in fact, we can’t.” Similarly, this sentiment is expressed in Frankenstein by the creature, “My feelings were those of rage and revenge. I, like the arch-fiend, bore a hell within me;  from that moment I declared everlasting war against the species, and, more than all, against him who had formed me, and sent me forth to this insupportable misery.”(Shelley, 121).  This is not a tenable solution- as evident in the quote due to the chaotic and menacing nature in which the creature speaks such words- to the chaos which the transgender community will face, this “solution” can only lead to either further alienation of the transgender community or the tyrannous imposition of the admiration of the trans community. In an attempt to showcase the struggle which trans people face in western society, Fisher cites a case where a boy in psychiatric care, who was alienated because he was trans, committed suicide. While this is an evident case of the horrendous malevolence which some people might use against others, the cause of this boy’s death is having more to do with his own reaction and feeling of despair to the alienation which he had faced.

One should seek to adopt responsibility and focus on self-development and not dwell and pity oneself as a cause of life’s various misfortunes. Otherwise, one will fall into the domain of intense tribalism and collectivist ideology which can only result in the alienation of certain groups or the tyrannous rule of other groups or both. Yes, life is treacherous and full of evil fueled by malevolence, Yes, people are oppressed- although not as much as people would like to have you think-, Yes western society is unfair, but one is much stronger and formidable than one would assume. One is capable of being the remedy to their own suffering. One is capable of changing society effectively and incrementally by changing oneself first so that one is able to remain headstrong in the face of any adversity that we will face. The point is that we are all capable of being formidable and tenacious individuals through the adoption of responsibility and a focus on self- improvement.

 

 

 

by Steven Gonzalez

Image result for transgender pain

By Mahealani LaRosa

Reading Jessica Rae Fisher’s I Am Frankenstein’s Monster: An Echo of Susan Stryker’s Call to Action as a female, as a victim of bullying, and as a survivor of sexual, mental, and verbal abuse was very difficult. I could never fathom the idea that I understand the pain that transgender people go through, but I DO understand the pain of the experiences I went through listed above. Although I found it difficult to read, I actually was interested in a lot of the points Fisher and Stryker made. Jessica pushes forward the idea of taking back words like “monster and creature” to describe transgender people. Stryker further emphasizes this idea by going into depth about the real definitions of these words and how people should even be proud to be called these things, even going as far to say “words like ‘creature,’ ‘monster,’ and ‘unnatural’ need to be reclaimed by the transgendered. By embracing and accepting them, even piling one on top of another, we may dispel their ability to harm us” (240). I feel like this is a very crucial idea, especially in modern society. People still use words like “gay” as a negative thing, so there is a lot of work that needs to be done in regards to reclaiming words that were originally slurs and insults and making them positive and affirming instead. Susan Stryker neatly explains this in her essay My Words to Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamounix, saying that “transsexuality more than any other transgender practice or identity represents the prospect of destabilizing the foundational presupposition of fixed genders upon which a politics of personal identity depends” (238). This relates to Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein because one of the most important characters, the creature, is seemingly genderless. Although repeatedly referred to as a man, it seems to have feminine features, and honestly doesn’t’ need to conform to the these “fixed genders”.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, Victor Frankenstein does not want to create a female mate for the creature because they would want “children, and a race of devils would be propagated upon the earth” (144). We can assume that in order for the creature to mate and have children with this female creature means that he is a man, and he has male genitalia. However, in modern society, having a penis does not make you a man. This is mostly apparent in cases of transgender people. Women born in a man’s body constantly have to go through people not understanding who they are, mostly based on their genitalia. Genitals do not define gender. The Merriam-Webster dictionary says gender is “the state of being male or female (typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones)” which in my opinion is completely incorrect. Sex is the state of being male or female. Gender is a spectrum, and I honestly believe it is TRULY an individual choice. Gender is whatever you as a singular person want it to be. What Stryker and Fisher are saying is that being a ‘monster’ or ‘creature’ is sort of like a kind of gender, but it also represents being transgender. The LGBTQ+ community is just like any other community, it excludes anything that is found to be ‘too’ different. In this case, it is transgender people. In Frankenstein, it is the creature. In this way, the creature and transgender people are linked. They are a type of gender that is misunderstood and discriminated against. The thing is, the creature does not have to commit to being the man. He is restrained by societies constructed ideas of sex and gender being these strict ideas of only male and female. Stryker says she “want[s] to lay claim to the dark power of [her] monstrous identity without using it as a weapon against others or being wounded by it [herself]”(240), so she is basically explaining how she is going to turn the hate and pain people give her into power and strength. Overall, this is what we should all do. Pain will always be something we internalize, but if we simultaneously reflect inwardly while also speaking out against the inflictor, we create a power that no one can stop.

In regards to the original cover of Frankenstein, I think it has a lot to do with the sexual organs of the creature. The creature is looking downwards at their genitals, as if they are surprised or shocked by what they see. It leaves the viewer questioning gender and sex already. It is also interesting to see the creature hovering over a skeleton while Frankenstein is running away. It is similar to all that we have been talking about. Victor is running from the reanimated life he created while also running from the shroud of death that will follow him for the remainder of his life. He is running from his mother and the creature he made to try to symbolize her. However, in terms of this blog post, it is most important to focus on the part where the creature looks at their genitals in such a stunned way. I wonder what made the creature so surprised…

 

 

 

 

Fisher calls attention to the mutual feelings the LGBTQ community and Frankenstein’s creation both share, in terms of feeling unaccepted by their community, the feeling of exclusion and marginalization, and the feeling of low self esteem/lack of love for themselves. For one, Fisher points to her relation to the “monster” by mentioning how “so many other transgender people have been bullied, brutalized, pushed to suicide or murdered”, alluding to how the “monster” was treated by the villagers. In chapter 12, the “monster” explained that he longed to join the villagers but he “remembered too well the treatment [he] had suffered the night before from the barbarous villagers”, deeming him an outsider marginalized because of something he could not control. This is why Fisher stated “The villagers still refuse to accept us. We remain no more than monsters”, because members of the LGBTQ community are also marginalized due to something out of their control, something that makes them them. Fisher and the creature both have in common their lack of self love, considering the monster stated “I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers—their grace, beauty, and delicate complexions; but how was I terrified when I viewed myself in a transparent pool”, revealing his hatred for his looks and his desire to change his looks, which transgender people strive for as well. Another thing transgender people have in common with the creature is how the creature doesn’t identify with either gender. Although Fisher and/or members of the LGBTQ community may feel like “monsters”, ultimately who’s to say everyone else isn’t the monsters, therefore they need to love themselves that much more for being different.

through-her-eyes-pic-copy

-Jaimee Watson

By: Sandra Tzoc

individual-different

The creature is an outcast in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and so are the members of the LGBTQ+ community. Society for a long time has had restrictions on those who are different whether it be because of their physical appearance or their sexual preference. Stryker gives her two cents on pushing forward and gaining back power that has been neglected to the transgender community. She suggests that derogatory terms such as “faggot” and “monster” should be reclaimed by the community in order to crush the negative connotations to seize empowerment. The words can no longer be used to hurt if they are reclaimed and given a new light. This movement is supported by Jessica Rae Fisher, writer of “I am Frankenstein’s Monster: An echo of Stryker’s call to action” where she states, “It is well worth embracing who we are as monsters. It isn’t our responsibility to make the villagers understand or accept us, and maybe, in fact, we can’t”. This further emphasizes the exclusion that transgender people face, but also the importance of claiming these nouns in order to unarm the transphobics. However, this sentence also raises questions such as: why isn’t it our responsibility to make them understand? Is Fisher implying then to remain quiet and let the villagers marinate in ignorance? If this is the case then I disagree, I think there are people who have transphobic views because they are ignorant and because they have huddled so tightly in their close-mindedness that they won’t accept anybody that is different. It is important to get information out there and educate people because everybody deserves to be who they want to be and love who they want to love. If discussions and advocacy of these important topics are not pursued, then there won’t be any steps to take forward.

Both Stryker and Fisher include the story of Filisa Vistima who was a male to woman transgender but was excluded from her own community. She searched for acceptance from her own community, her own family but was banished. This occurs to the creature as well, where even his creator, Victor, abandons and neglects him. Vistima wrote, “I wish I was anatomically ‘normal’, so I could go swimming… But no, I am a mutant, Frankenstein’s monster” before she commit suicide. She felt like an outcast, like a monster. Similarly, the creature felt no sense of belonging because he did not look like the rest. In chapter 12 he says, “I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers- their grace, beauty, and delicate complexions; but how was I terrified when I viewed myself in a transparent pool!”. These renderings by Vistima and the creature demonstrate the inner tension built by the rejection of society and those who were supposed to love them. So much that they desired to change their appearances in order to fit in with the rest. This is why it is important to continue to share everyone’s stories and to advocate in order to make them heard.

In class, there was a discussion on the gender of the creature and this was the depiction of what goes on in society. We try to label each other and put everyone into a mold. Some said that the creature was male because he said so himself. However, what if the creature called himself a male because his creator, Victor, referred to him, labeled him, a male. Perhaps, he followed what everybody else called him. This shows the creature forced into the “heterosexual economy” as Stryker states. I can also recall a student’s argument that the creature was a male because “he” asked for a female partner. However, this argument portrays restriction upon the creature’s sexual preference. What if the creature was a lesbian? Who knows. We are nobody to question or force any label onto anybody else. Perhaps, Mary Shelley wrote this novel for introspection, because it reveals the way we think in the manner in which we interpret the text.

Reading deeply into Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein”, many controversial topics continue to arise. She makes it pretty apparent in her novel the corruption that many people face for not being what society expects or categorizes as normal. An ideal world would be one were everyone is accepted for who they are, and not have the fear of being judged, which is where Stryker’s essay has an impact. Stryker wants to embrace the title of being a monster that people have labeled her and others for being different. Jessica Rae Fisher’s blog post “I am Frankenstein’s Monster: An echo of Susan Stryker’s call to action” is interesting because she recognizes the relationship between transgender people and Frankenstein.

Her post connects very well with the story because a continuous question that we had about this novel in class is what the gender of the monster is. It was never fully established if the monster was male or female. From the beginning Frankensteins creation was given the label of being a monster and other degrading names that Stryker wants to embrace, and take away the negative meaning that comes with it. The monster’s physical appearance was different from what society was used to. The creature was not oblivious from the judgment that he was receiving, his creator along with the members of society are what influenced his life that consisted of pure revenge and rage. “I had never seen yet a being resemble me, or who claimed any intercourse with me. What was I.” (Shelley 110). The creature was struggling with the fact that he didn’t know his own identity. Victors own identity struggles was passed along to the monster. Victor struggled a lot with his own identity, which is another factor that drove him to create the unidentified creature. Victor struggled with the fact that he could not physically give birth to a life, an ability that only women hold the power to. Was the creation of the monster Victor’s proof that he as a male can do things that only women can do? Gender identity is a continuous question that remains within the novel.

-Dariana Lara

I think it’s great that transgender people have found a character in literature, such as Frankenstein’s creature, that they can relate to and identify with, not just through appearance but also through the similar struggles they face when interacting with others.

Something I think Jessica could incorporate in her post about issues with gender and sexuality is how others isolate transgender people. In the novel Frankenstein, when the creature asks, “listen to me; and then, if you can and if you will, destroy the work of your hands” (94), he is challenging his creator to accept him for his flaws. Similar to how Victor can’t fully comprehend his creation, people also struggle to understand transgender people. This is especially hard when they know nothing about their lives and judge only on their chosen gender and lifestyle. If people just LISTENED, they would see that we are more alike than we are different. In my opinion this quote can also be applied to people who know someone going through gender change. Having known someone for a while, would you be willing to “destroy the work of your own hands?” To forget all the memories made with someone just because of a small change in their lives? No you shouldn’t. Simply listening can help lessen the burden and rage of feeling like a monster. No one is perfect, everyone is different and just because someone’s exterior is different doesn’t change who they are inside. Likewise those who are “normal” on the outside could be WORSE than monsters on the inside.

Lastly, I think Jessica’s post about reclaiming the words “monster” and “creature” was encouraging and empowering. One thing I noticed was her comparison of the villagers in the novel to regular people of today. When she first mentioned villagers, I thought she meant REAL villagers. I suggest explaining what role villagers played in Frankenstein in order for those who have not read the novel to understand the comparison.

By Galilea Sanchez

BlogPost#6.jpg– Mark Acuña

 

In Mary Shelly’s novel Frankenstein, we can see that gender roles between the main and minor characters throughout the story and plot up to Victors death; all determines what Shelly’s work was trying to depict for us. Most, if not all women there were placed as characters in the novel Frankenstein were no more used as a submissive of Victor Frankenstein’s work, in order to further move the plot forward and have a concluding message that men are the last thing to survive until their fall as men. Mary Shelly does however reveal something that the naked eye can easily oversee when first reading through the novel – which is that the “Monster”, created by man (Victor Frankenstein) is subdued into hiding, betrayed by his creator, and pushed away making the “monster” feel unwelcome and unappreciated.

The work of Mary Shelly has a parallel comparison to that of Susan Stryker (an associate professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, as well as a former director of the Institute for LGBT Studies) article, “My words to Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamounix” where a transwoman writer named Jessica Rae Fisher expands on her ideas towards Stryker’s article. Jessica points out in Stryker’s article where a young transsexual woman named Filisa Vistima was tormented and outcasted – similarly how the “monster” in Frankenstein was. She writes, “I wish I was anatomically ‘normal’ so I could go swimming…but no, I’m a mutant, Frankenstein’s monster”. “Two months later Filisa Vistima committed suicide.” It’s not only the women that Stryker points out, but many other transsexual people have been affected by the community for not accepting who they are and what pronouns they would like to respectively be called by. Jessica writes about how, “For a long time my dad has called me a commie pink bedwetting faggot”. Stryker believes that if you are not with the norm and don’t identify yourself as masculine or feminine, then you are too considered a monster. Just like how the monster was created and brought to life in the novel Frankenstein, we shouldn’t shun them for who they came up to be, but morally respect them with how they portray themselves as and respect the new norms that come out of society.

Butchered Justice

In the novel Frankenstein, we readers witness the execution of Justine, the maid of the Frankenstein household, for the death of William. Although she was never guilty, she was still put on trial and found guilty for planted evidence. After reading Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Men, the connections between Justine/Justice and the writing material is very strong.

For instance, Wollstonecraft focuses the majority of her paper on the idea of beauty, and how it is treated towards Justine and all women found in Frankenstein. Wollstonecraft quotes that “littleness and weakness are the very essence of beauty” (47). With Justine being a female, this same idea of beauty collided with her, and her wretched state as she goes on trial, knowing that she herself is innocent. At this point in the novel, Justine is tear-faced and broken to hear the news of her guilt from the jury. Wollstonecraft shows us that in order to be considered beautiful by men, we must appear smaller than them, and act as if we have a necessity for males in our lives in order to survive. Justine was not able to fit in that category, since she was “guilty” of William’s murder, which led to her demise.

-Jody Omlin