Tag Archive: queer


Sexual Identity

 

Image result for frankenstein and monster

In Jessica Fisher’s blog, “I am Frankenstein’s Monster: An echo of Susan Stryker’s call to action” she evaluates Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” through a lens of the gender identity of Victor Frankenstein and the creature. Fisher asserts in the novel Victor is a representation queer, transgender and asexual, pan romanticism in the form intimidation and discreteness they go through. The creature itself is a representation of the emotional and isolation they are faced with in the real world. Victor Frankenstein is unconscious, but through his actions, the reader is able to become unaware of manifestation between Victor and his suppressed sexual life.

At first glance in the novel, the relationship between Victor Frankenstein and Henry Clerval is that of childhood friends which are built with trust and happiness. It is a common belief in society that friends are people who individuals who build bonds and are everlasting. However, through Fisher’s lens of “Frankenstein” an alternate perspective is shown. In “Frankenstein” when Victor departures to the University of Ingolstadt Henry begs his father to allow him to leave with Victor, but is not allowed, “He said little; when he spoke, I read in his kindling eye and in animated glance a restrained but firm resolve, chained with miserable details” (Shelley 51) Victor describes Henry using the words, “kindling eyes”, “animated glance” and “miserable”. Traditional gender roles in the seventeenth century are between a man and a woman, yet Victor begins to show attraction and affection towards his childhood friend. Victor describes Henry through his physical feature at that moment asserting that he had “Kindling eyes” and “animated glance” meaning that he finds Henry charming. These words are usually said to a woman, not a man. Victor exposes his subconscious thought in this particular moment, talking in the second person.  He is hiding sexual identity from everyone, he is attracted to his same gender rather than the opposite, but is afraid of exposing it. Furthermore, he begins to show emotion through the use of a long sentence and sentence structure, semicolons, and commas. As the sentence proceeds the reader is met with first, a semicolon which he states that Henry did not say much and brings the sentence to an untimely stop. Victor than continues after this pause and states three more words than the sentence comes to another stop, having sorrow for his friend. The sentence after begins to flow but continues, but then again comes to another stop. The comas emphasis Victor emotion running high as he struggles to finish a sentence and must come to stop to allow him not to break down. Sadness running through his mind, he can not bear the feeling of departing from his friend, but he is able to leave Elizabeth without having so much emotion. Further, in the novel, Henry visits Victor and finds him very ill and he proceeds to, help him heal the whole winter, “how good you are to me. This whole winter, instead of being spent in the study”(Shelley 64) he was “consumed in a sick room” (Shelley 64) asserting that they both care immensely for each other. Victor is brought back to life by his friend and the happiness that he feels just by seeing him, never does Elizabeth come to his mind. Victor only shining a light on his feelings when he is seen with Henry. Here is were Susan Stryker’s asserts that a person who is transgender life becomes difficult as they are not welcomed and are unsociable in society. Here is were Fisher asserts that “Filisa shouldn’t have faced the loneliness that rejection no doubt brought.” In society many view sexual identity as a mental illness, to which Victor is not willing to sacrifice his straight image in society as he will be met with backlash. Victor keeps his sexual life private and is not willing to expose his affection towards Henry as what awaits is loneliness and rejection. Though his affection towards Henry is seen through the whole novel and the connection to the creature and the purpose of its creation.

Upon the creature being created, we see a sense of confusion with the world and the search for acceptance from any human. He begins to head to Geneva hoping that his creation will understand hand hears what he has to say and ultimately accept him. When the monster begins to tell his story he mentions an encounter he had with humans, a small little girl slips into a stream and is about to drown and he comes to save her, yet the man that she is with sees a “monster” in his eyes and continues to shoot him, instead of acknowledging what he did. The creature then continues to state, “This is the reward of my benevolence! I had saved a human being from destruction, and, as a recompense, I now writhed under the miserable pain of a wound,” (Shelley 125) Full with frustration and confusion as he uses an exclamation mark to emphasis on why did this occur to him, the creature had nothing but good intention. Hoping to be “normal” through his actions, yet finds that it is not possible for him to ever be normal. The creature was hoping to gain acceptance but was left even more emotionally and physically hurt, paralleling with Fisher’s critique of the situation Filisa’s suicide. She asserts that “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 — even though she identified as and lived as a bisexual woman.” Fisher addressing that trans and queer can never be viewed as normal, which creates rage or  “Transgender Rage”. Filisa was doing what she believed to be an environment where she was going to accepted, she was faced with a barrier. Filisa was opposed by others whom she thought would be accepting. As the creature could not understand why he could not be human, he continues to take this experience and leave to Geneva with anger in his mind. A parallel exists as Victor who is the creator of the creature does not accept the creature. Which creates this rage in Filisa and the creature.

Levit Martinez

 

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…

 

 

 

 

In the image from the original 1831 Frontispiece to Frankenstein, the image depicts a sense of deep horror from the way that Victor Frankenstein and the creature are portrayed. Both are looking towards the creature’s genital and both resemble concern. In a way we can’t be so certain to assume that this creature even had any body parts although throughout the novel he used pronouns such as “he” and “him” to describe himself. Therefore, the sex of the creature remains unknown because as we can see we can’t determine the sex of the creature since neither body parts are shown in the image. Or maybe he had neither sex organs who knows. That’s where “neopronouns” come into play and thus use these “proposed gender-neutral pronouns made to replace singular they” since we can’t identify the creature as either or.

Moreover, in the novel Frankenstein, we realize that deep down the “creature” is a person whom transgender people relate to. Not only is the creature isolated from everyone else, but he doesn’t feel like he belongs in a world where people won’t listen and acknowledge his presence. In a way the transgender community relates to this creature as well because they understand what it means to be isolated from others and judged by people who choose ignorance as a form to describe their hatred as acceptable. For instance, in the novel, the creature asks, “listen to me; and then, if you can and if you will, destroy the work of your hands” (94). This describes how the creature wants to be acknowledged by his creator and accepted for who he truly is. Along the same lines, Victor can’t really understand his creation and thus isolates him from the world which resembles what transgender people go through. People struggle to comprehend transgender people and judge them based on their lifestyle without getting to know them.

Moreover, Jessica makes a remarkable point in her blog post when she argues that instead of wasting valuable time on those who mock and spread hatred she would just ignore. And instead take the power away from those that spread hatred by turning those words into ones that empower herself. As a transgender woman Jessica, explains how instead of feeling exhausted by those who bully her she can simply eliminate that power from them by empowering herself with their words. In other words, she embraces the term “monster” and defeats the villagers.

 

-Guadalupe Andrade

By Maya Carranza

In  Susan Stryker’s essay and in Jessica Rae Fisher’s response, Frankenstein’s monster is connected to transexual people. As Stryker states, “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” (p. 238). Nowadays, many technological advances have been invented in order for individuals to transition from one sex to another. This is connected to Frankenstein’s monster as it was created using different body parts using science.

Both the monster and transgenders are not something society is accustomed to. Frankenstein’s creature was identified as a monster due to is “hideous” physical appearance. Similarly, transgenders are viewed as “odd” and “unnatural”. Stryker even compares the words “fag” and “queer” to the word “monster”. Filisa Vistima, a transexual  woman, was seen as a monster and just like Frankenstein’s monster they were both seen as outcasts. Filisia was treated by her community as badly as Frankenstein’s creature was treated in Mary Shelley’s novel that it led her to take her own life and even she viewed herself differently  as she wrote in her journal, “I’m a mutant, Frankenstein’s monster”

When people transition, are in the process of transitioning, or even question their gender identity, they sometimes prefer being identified as the apposite sex they were assigned or born with. Even in today’s society many people assume other’s gender especially based on physical appearance. For example, an individual who was once a male may now identify as a woman but if she still had male characteristics people would automatically assume that she’s a male rather than a female. This links to Frankenstein’s monster as it was never established whether it was male or female. The only thing indicating that it was male are the pronouns used throughout the novel but perhaps the monster was created with a female genitalia but was assumed to be male based on it’s physical characteristics.

Furthermore, the way one identifies themselves shouldn’t define who they are. “For me, it is time to dull the impact these words have when used against us.” (Fisher). With that being said, it shouldn’t matter whether you are male, female, transgender, a “faggot” or a “monster” because at the end of the day those are just words and they should NOT define a person. We are all beautiful in our own unique way.

Throughout history and in modern day people that are queer have been treated as an outcast and have experienced much discrimination. However, for a transgender person it is so much harder to hide their queerness then it is for a gay or lesbian person because their looks often give them away while for lesbians or gays they often have to come out in order for people to know what they are and it’s more of a choice for them. Jessica’s interpretation of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley shows how she was able to empathise with the creature and even see herself as a reflection of him. She believes that transgender people should embrace the words “monster, creature, and unnatural.” However, I disagree with her because I don’t think people should give into the stereotypes and believe the insults others tell them. Instead of giving into them, they should refute them and show others how they are human just like them. The creature in Frankenstein felt social exclusion and isolation in his first interaction with humans and as a result of it, he decided to stay away from humans because he accepted the fact that he would face rejection and as a result of it, he lived a miserable life.

If the creature had not given into the belief that he would be rejected by all human beings, he wouldn’t have such hate for them and he would have not spent his whole life trying to get back at Victor. Victor, in this case, was the oppressor and the one causing all of the creatures pain. It is possible that the creature was a reflection of Victor and that Victor hated him so much and rejected him because he was the part of Victor that he wished to suppress. Victor did not want to accept his homosexual desires because he wanted to be a woman and women at that time were treated poorly. He was obsessed over the idea of giving birth, that he went out of his way to create what he believed would be a perfect and beautiful creation. However, when his expectations were not met by the creature, he was disgusted by him and regret ever creating him. After, seeing how society treated the creature, Victor knew he couldn’t reveal his true self because he would be treated just as bad. So instead he just sat back and witnessed the creature hurt many people whom he cared about.

It Is Up To You.

Jocelyn Lemus

We are exposed to wounds that don’t fully heal because the world has picked on them so much. Society has implemented a certain image to our appearances and as “humans” we must follow those expectations. We are all limited to how we should look and act. Even when most people say ‘just be yourself’ it is honestly tough to follow that saying because majority of the time people judge the real you. To specify, I’ve brought in these ideas because in the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, she expresses these ideas with the creature’s feelings. Not only do these ideas connect to Frankenstein, but also the ideas of how Susan Stryker’s voice as a writer inspired a transgender woman, Jessica Rae Fisher to expand on the views of transgender rage.

In Styker’s essay, she includes an anecdote about Filisa Vistima, a transsexual women who was picked on for how she identified herself as. This 22-year-old women was not given the chance to be heard, so instead she allowed her voice to vanish by taking her life away. Vistima was not comfortable in her own body that she described herself as “a mutant, Frankenstein’s monster.”  This is important because she uses a reference from Mary Shelley’s novel as a way to view herself. This connects with Frankenstein, because the creature includes, “listen to me; and then, if you can and if you will, destroy the work of your hands” (94). The key here is that listening was the problem that people had. People only chose to hear and not listen, which indeed there is a difference. These two, the creature and Vistima play a role of those who feel like the outcast because they saw themselves the way others didn’t. Society chooses to cut off their ears before people that feel unseen and unwanted open their mouths. As much as one tries to change, they cannot because the way they are keeps them warm, it creates a safe home for them. These points of view align with Jessica Rae Fisher’s ideas because in her blog post she emphasizes, ” if the villagers want to see us as unnatural, that we should embrace that…  I will not shy away from the science that can make me a monster”(Fisher). For her, being a monster, if that is how people saw it, it is something one should not be ashamed of. What is so wrong with being different? or having the ability to stand out? If one were to read Frankenstein, would they ever come into this type of conclusion? would transgender rage cross their minds?

Image result for meaningful pictures

To continue, one never really notices the deep message within an image because they are so focus on what is shown abstractly than secretly. I’m bringing in this topic because there is an image of Frankenstein that has really captured my interpretation to what it means within my own eyes. As one is given the opportunity to analyze different images with their eyes, they are brought in with different feelings captured from what they see. For instance, as I deeply scan the the original image of 1831 Frontispiece to Frankenstein I noticed that there are three people in there. Some may say the skeleton is not identified as a person because it is just a corpse laying down. However, the way I see it is differently. I believe that the corpse symbolizes the need to fit in into societal norms. As one is home they take off the skin they don’t want to be in and only wear to satisfy society. In this image, the creature that Frankenstein has created with his hands, is held in the situation of who to be and how to act. As we analyze the skeleton on its own, it is shown that there is no male or female genitalia. Sometimes it isn’t the way it is shown, but the way we chose to see things. The eyes are these magical pieces within the body that allows people to no only see a something or someone, but to also see through them. There is so much meaning within this image, but as humans we cannot identify all of it.

In Mary Shelly’s novel “Frankenstein” we are ultimately faced with the reality of something that one may at first not realize. Perhaps, Victor wants to become very much so a female. Maybe, he is to afraid to come to that realization that, thats what he wants to be. Perhaps that is the reason he created the monster. Throughout the whole novel, females were portrayed as nothing. By nothing, I mean that, they were just tossed around, and weren’t cared for. They were treated much more less, adn were just seen as garbage. In the contrary, the male’s in the novel actually were respected.

In Jessica Rae Fisher’s reading, she expresses how hard it was and still is to be a Transgender, and all the knocks it comes with it. It shows why maybe, Victor frankenstein created a monster, because that is how he expressed himself. He was to afraid of himself changing, so he made his own creation. It also saddens me how, Jessica was treated, even by her own father. Imagine, Victor, expressing himself, in his times, how worse it would probably have been.

Frankenstein’s body, attitude and persona and the one of a Transgender individual as said by Susan Stryker, are very very identical.  They both are “sewn together” and are a “technological construction”.  As in attitude, both are tormented and are looked down upon for who they have choose to become. It has became very sad how some of these individuals have been treated. But like also mentioned, it is becoming something better with time.

 

 

Rigo Garcia

Yocelin De Lira

Jessica Rae Fisher explores the transgender community and establishes many connections with Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. The creature, Victor Frankenstein and Fillisa Vistima were all outcast due to their self nature. Vistima was not only tormented by society, but her own father became her bully. Victor Frankenstein never receive the approval as the creature never receive the approval of Victor Frankenstein.  Victor father   never approve of Victor dream of creating life.  Throughout the novel, Victor was always depicted as a male dominant, meaning he yearned to have control in many aspects in his life. Victor’s sexuality throughout the novel triggered confusing and interesting potential facts about himself. For instance, when Victor unconsciously had an unpleasant sexual dream with his mother. His dream consisted of seeing Elizabeth’s beautiful face and somehow Elizabeth’s face rearranged to appearing like Caroline, Victor’s mother. It is very odd how Victor was dreaming about beauty and perfection.

This brings up many question was Victor envious of Elizabeth due to her physical appearance?  The main reason Victor demolished his creation was because he carried the potential notion that the creature would crave to have “children, and a race of devils would be propagated upon the earth” (Shelly, 144). This demonstrates how Victor envies the fact that women can conceive children and is afraid of not being the main producer. This is beyond women and male gender roles, this is about how Victor is intimidated and envious of women and secretly yearns to have a sex change and become one himself to satisfy his craving of embodying female anatomy.

Victor hardly expressed affection toward Elizabeth, he was hardly heartbroken by her dead corpse on the bed on their wedding night. In fact, Victor expressed more sorrow toward his best friend’s death, Henry Clerval. Did Victor possibly love Henry more than just a friend? Victor was extremely ill for about two months after learning that the creature had killed his friend.Henry was the one who took care of Victor during his illnesses and hardly left his side.  Victor did not love Elizabeth as much as she loved him, he was in love with her beauty. This goes hand in hand with Susan Stryker’s essay because she specifically highlights how her personal life consists of being a transgender woman in a complex and unwelcoming community. Stryker reflects her sexuality to Frankenstein’s because the whole process of converting to a different sex and Victor engineering another creature has many similarities. For instance, when Stryker mentioned “the transsexual body is an unnatural body… it is the flesh torn apart and sewn together again in a shape other than in which it was born” (Stryker, 1). It is related to how Victor produced the creature, he performed a type of surgery applying science-based knowledge. Stryker engaged in a surgery for a sex change due to her not being content in her own skin and Victor’s invention of the creature was driven by his yearning of being the main producer and being envious of woman’s reproductive anatomy.

Based on your reading of Susan Stryker’s essay, students will write a blog post in response to a published post in the blog site by a trans woman writer, Jessica Rae Fisher (see the link below).  She describes how Stryker’s essay on transgender rage inspired her to come to terms with herself as a marginalized member of society and on how she has learned to appropriate the term “monster” to resist queer- and trans-bashing by bullies who abuse this term.

I am Frankenstein’s Monster: An echo of Susan Stryker’s call to action

For your blog post this Wednesday (10/17), focus on a particular passage or scene in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein that can further support Jessica’s reflections on the use of pronouns or “neopronouns.”  How can the novel’s engagement with issues of gender and sexuality enrich and expand Jessica’s views on transgender rage/kindness?  Use her blog post and Stryker’s essay to guide your analysis.  And while we want to inspire Jessica with our moral support and understanding, please refrain from simply showering praise or pity on her condition.  Instead, use the literary criticism you’ve learned in this course to help empower Jessica, and how she can better communicate her thoughts and emotions to an online public through a close reading of Frankenstein. I ask that students please write with due politeness and sensitivity to the personal concerns that Jessica is raising.  To spark some ideas, I’ve included below the original 1831 Frontispiece to Frankenstein.  Do you see anything odd in this image?

Please submit your post by 9:00am next Wednesday, 10/17, and categorize it under “Transgender Rage.”  And please create specific and relevant tags.  Please write your full name.