Tag Archive: Sex


Be Your Trueself

In “My Words To Victor Frankenstein Above The Village Of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage” by Susan Stryker, she describes how she can relate to the creature in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. She goes into depth about her own life and struggles she has faced. Stryker says that terms like dyke, queer, fag or slut should be reclaimed by the people being called these names. Jessica Rae Fisher, a transgender woman writes her response to Stryker’s work in “I am Frankenstein’s Monster: An echo of Susan Stryker’s call to action” and agrees with what Stryker has to say and also feels like the creature. She agrees with reclaiming all the terms Stryker uses and wants to add monster and creature to be reclaimed as well.

Not being able to feel comfortable in one’s own body is a struggle we see from the creature of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. The creature discovers that he does not look the the rest of society, but he knows that deep down inside he is a normal person like anyone else. His appearance does not define who he is. Most transgender people can relate to the creature for this reason because they are also unhappy with the bodies they were born with. Some transgender people are lucky enough that they can afford surgery to make their physical body parts reflect how they truly feel. Society has a hard time accepting people who looked/are different from the “norm”, that is why the creature was isolated most of his life because people were afraid of him and labeled him as a monster. Transgender people have a hard time coming out because it can push the people they care about out of their life because they don’t understand. We see this when Victor abandons the creature when it is brought to life, Victor leaves the creature when he needed him the most. This is the same case with some transgender people when they are transitioning, the people they need the most leave them and don’t support them.

Transgender rage is “when the inability to foreclose the subject occurs through a failure to satisy norms of gendered embodiment” (Stryker, 249). This is not bad thing because we see the creature have rage toward Victor for leaving him and making him face the world by himself. The creature’s rage was logical and he had every right to have this. Not being able to fit into society’s norms can be challenging but once you find yourself and know who you truly are society’s norms do not matter anymore because they are a social construct anyways. Society wants to put us all in a box to act/look the same, when we’re all different, “it isn’t our responsibility to make the villagers understand or accept us, and maybe, in fact, we can’t” (Fisher) . We can’t satisfy everyone, so we might as well just satisfy ourselves and put ourselves first.

-Marycarmen Nieto

 

Advertisements

Be Open

 

Related image

Christopher Martinez

In the book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, there are multiple parts that show the injustices of being different. Jessica states with passion and dignity in her blog post that there should be a, “reclaim the word tranny. 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.” When she says that the word tranny should be changed and interpreted a different way it reminds me of Frankenstein’s experience as a lonely monster – maybe even part of the LGBTQ community like Jessica.

There is multiple parts in the book where the monster shows the willingness to try to be like everyone else, yet also having the idea of self-hate. An example of this can be found in chapter 15 when the monster begins to be eager to learn more about the world he is in and what he is in society. He reads books and discovers many different feelings. He states, “I can hardly describe to you the effect of these books. They produced in me an infinity of new images and feelings, that sometimes raised me to ecstasy, but more frequently sunk me into the lowest djection.” (115) Just like in Jessica’s post there is several mentions of wanting to be themselves, but society doesn’t allow them to. In addition, there is a connection between the monsters hate for the world he lives in and the world a queer or a lesbian lives in. When Stryker mentioned, “On January 5, 1993, a 22-year-old pre-operative transsexual woman from Seattle, Filisa Vistima, wrote in her journal, “I wish I was anatomically ‘normal’ so I could go swimming. . . . But no, I’m a mutant, Frankenstein’s monster,” this made me think of the ideas the monster had himself. The monster said, “Cursed, cursed, cursed! Why did I live? Why, in that instant, did I not extinguish the spark of existence which you had so wantonly bestowed?” (121) This gives evidence that the monster Victor created is no different from people who are homosexual or bisexual. They feel different like the monster in Frankenstein. Now I am not calling anyone a monster, but in fact, I am blaming the community for not allowing beautiful and unique ‘monsters’ into society. Just like Jessica said in her blog, “I can want to kill them with kindness, but their vitriol and hatred might wear down on me faster.” As humans, we aren’t seeing the right picture when interpreting someone. We saw the monster as a man, but is he really? Is the monster wanting to be himself, but the monster is furious about the close mindsets humans have.

Whatever you are..

Rilee Hoch

It is certainly interesting to reflect back on the image found in the front of Frankenstein. In the image both the Creature and Victor seem to be looking directly at where the Creatures genitals should be, and show expressions of deep horror and concern. The Creature at first glance may seem to appear “masculine” which would confirm why the pronoun he and him are used in the novel, but in reality masculinity is just attributed to certain features that society has selected and deemed as “masculine”. The sex of the Creature remains unknown because the body parts that would be used, at least in this day and age, to determine what sex the Creature would be called is not shown. To be completely honest, who are we to say that the creature had any sex organs at all? Or to say that the creature did not have both sex organs? We can’t say, and this creates the idea of using gender-neutral pronouns when referring to the Creature. Neo-pronouns, “are new proposed gender-neutral pronouns made to replace singular they.” according to an online blog I found about gender discussion. They would be appropriate since we as a reader can not truly know how the Creature would identify or what organ or organs he may or may not have.

Image result for whatever just wash your hands

The main argument Jessica makes in her blog post is that as a Transgender person, instead of focusing all her energy on those who mock, and put others down in hatred, wasting valuable time energy, she should ignore all the negative things that people have to say. She goes a step further and says she is called to take the power away from those people by turning those hateful words into ones that empower herself. She puts focus on what Stryker says, “Like that creature, I assert my worth as a monster in spite of the conditions my monstrosity requires me to face, and redefine a life worth living,” (254). Instead of making herself feel exhausted, without changing the minds of those who persecute her, she can simply invoke that rage and take the power away from them. If the words can not hurt you then what use are they? Even more so, if the words make you feel empowered and strong they are doing good for your cause. She says, “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.” In this way she conveys an acceptance of this term “monster” and overcomes it.

Victor and Science

 

Image result for science in frankenstein

Christopher Martinez
Throughout Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, there is a sense of Victor’s affection for life made by women. Based on Anne Mellor’s conclusion that, “the scientist who analyses, manipulates, and attempts to control nature unconsciously engages in a form of the oppressive sexual politics,” I can interpret that Victor Frankenstein is in need for the desire of a woman’s womb. This can be clearly be shown when Victor Frankenstein is practicing science with his professor. He wants the power to control nature – It is his fate. We see examples of this when he says “Natural philosophy is the genius that has regulated my fate; I desire, therefore, in this narration, to those fact which led to my predilection for that science.” (45) This view that Victor has is a curse that keeps on haunting him. He won’t let go until he is completely satisfied. Unfortunately, that never happens to Victor.

 

Also, we see Victors encounter with science when M. Waldman gives Victor a set of things to do to possess powerful knowledge. After having some sleep Victor states he, “only remained a resolution to return to the ancient studies, and to devote myself to a science for which I believed myself to possess a natural talent.” (53) This shows the intentions Victor has. There is a connection between Anne Mellor’s statement and this section in the book since Anne Mellor says, “Moreover, in trying to create a human being as God created Adam, out of earth and water, all at once, Victor Frankenstein robs nature of something more than fertilizer.” (7) Victor Frankenstein seems to learn about the sciences in the wrong way. Anne Mellor mentions that he wants that power. Additionally, this can relate back to the discussion about psychoanalysis. Since we now know Victor wants his dead mother’s affection, there is a conclusion that Victor is committed to getting that power to life to pursue happiness. Victor Frankenstein is a bit greedy with his actions. He is manipulating his sexual desire.

By Isaac Gallegos R.

mwm07971

 

Anne K. Mellor’s essay, “A Feminist Critique of Science”, aims to explore the sexual politics of science during the 19th-century, and how it manifests itself within Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Mellor’s essay largely depends on the analysis of the gendered imagery and metaphors found within the scientific and literary texts of that time (Humphry Davy’s Discourse, Erasmus Darwin’s Phytologia, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein). This feminist lens, when applied to Frankenstein, creates an interesting understanding of our interpersonal/social relations with science and nature. Furthermore, Mellor’s essay can further demonstrate the consequences of having misogynistic sexual politics,  especially when applied to the character Victor Frankenstein and his hamartia of dominating nature.

Before we apply Mellor’s feminist critique onto Frankenstein, it’s essential for us to understand the meaning of ‘sexual politics’ and how they played an influential role in 19th-century scientific ideologies. Sexual politics are the principles determining the relationship of the sexes; relations between the sexes regarded in terms of power. The sexual politics of the 19th-century dictated that men were vastly superior to women; this notion was then expressed in all parts of society: through the legislature, the etiquette, and even the scientific ideologies. The latter was one of the more surprising consequences of 19th-century sexual politics; this was attributed to the fact that nature is considered feminine (e.g., Mother Nature). And because of the perceived femininity of nature, male scientists contested for the dominance of nature; Francis Bacon even announced, “I am come in very truth leading to you Nature with all her children to bind her to your service and maker her your slave”, exemplifying how 19th-century sexual politics so greatly influenced science: scientists actively imagined to being the dominant, determined male and therefore perceived nature to being the dominanted damsel.

However, throughout her analysis, Mellor emphasized that her critique wasn’t towards all science — just ‘bad’ science. The 19th-century saw the rise of two scientific ideologies: ‘good’ science and ‘bad’ science. Good science was the hyperaware act to only observe nature and it’s mechanics, and to have an appreciation of such mechanics. Erasmus Darwin was the greatest advocate for this methodology that didn’t attempt to radically “change either the way nature works or the institutions of society”(Mellor 4). Sexual politics had affected their approach to science by viewing nature as a respectable (however feminine) entity; one could argue ‘good’ scientist’s had a perception of nature that was more akin to ‘mother nature’  and therefore saw nature as a complex and established matriarch. On the other hand, ‘bad’ science was the scientific ideology that the elemental forces of nature were to serve the private needs of men and that this power dynamic would be established through the manipulation and ‘abuse’ of nature’s mechanics.  Humphry David promoted this power-obsessed ideology, writing “to interrogate nature with power, not simply as a scholar, passive and seeking to understand her operations, but rather as a master, active with his own instruments”.(Davy 16). Mellor’s distinction of  these 19th-century  scientific ideologies (‘good’ science and ‘bad’ science) is beneficial because it demonstrates that Mellor’s critique doesn’t overgeneralize all the sciences; she condemns ‘bad’ science for it’s misogynistic and unsustainable approach to science while commending ‘good’ science for it’s holistic and sustainable approach to science. Knowing these distinctions can help us identify where Victor Frankenstein falls on the spectrum of bad-good science, and doing so can give us further insight into his actions:

 Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a tor- rent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me. (Shelley 57)

Victor Frankenstein saw nature as a tool for his own personal advancements; unlike Erasmus Darwin, Victor Frankenstein actively pursued to challenge nature and it’s mechanics.  This interjection was a grave mistake, because not only does Frankenstein challenge nature’s authority, he also challenges its methods. Mellor notes “Rather than letting organic life-forms evolve slowly […] Victor wants to originate a new life-form quickly.”(Mellor 6).  And through Mellor’s feminist lens, we understand that Victor was influenced by the 19th-century sexual politics, and it manifested in his participation in ‘bad’ science. His actions, like denying nature it’s authority and denying the creature maternal influences, show how greatly ‘bad’ science and sexual politics had influenced him: Victor Frankenstein tried, in vain, to omit the vitalness of the feminine figure in life, by rejecting Mother nature her powers and rejecting the power motherhood has on all of us.

 

 

Momma’s Boy Forever

Sigmund Freud’s theory of “the uncanny” is presented in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein through Victor Frankenstein’s Oedipal desires in his “wildest dream” (Shelley 60). Victor Frankenstein has a vivid dream in which his beloved Elizabeth turns into the corpse of his deceased mother as he kisses her. The description of Victor’s feelings within the dream, while also illustrating his shock at seeing the transformation, hints at his lust for his mother. The passage is loaded with sexual imagery, like “the grave worms crawling in the folds of the flannel” alluding to vaginal intercourse and the “cold dew [that] covered [Victor’s] forehead” like the ejaculate released from the head of a penis (60), demonstrating the level if intimacy Victor unconsciously wants to have with his mother. More importantly, this reveals the reason for his fixation on creating life and the monster. He wants to give life to the monster the same way his mother gave life to him. In doing so, Frankenstein also gives life to his mother through memory by dedicating creation of the monster to her and literally giving her life in his dream through his ejaculation into her. This is the result of what Freud calls the “Oedipus Complex.” The Oedipus Complex claims every man is attracted to their mother since infancy and strive to develop a relationship with a woman reminiscent of their mother, since the mother is already taken by their father.

While the idea of a person, especially an infant, being attracted to their parent may be a strange concept for people to, it is not uncanny to Freud. Freud views it as normal and crucial to the social development of the child innate in all “normal” heterosexual humans. Therefore, it is canny, at least in a Freudian context, because of its rationality and existence in the unconscious. Freud writes in his essay “The Uncanny” that something is uncanny “because it is not known and familiar” (Freud 418), meaning it diverges from the common perception held of it while also abiding by it. The uncanniness in the scene that causes Victor to awake in fear is the uncanny appearances of his dead mother and his continued attraction to the corpse. In his dream, Victor’s mother is not fully human. She is no longer human because she no longer has a pulse and is decomposing, but her features indicative of a human gives the feeling that she could potentially have life and is simply not engaging at the moment. The case is the same for Frankenstein’s monster because he has human traits and body part but his deformities give the impression that he is an undead monster at the same time. Because of the uncanny appearance of his mother their relationship becomes uncanny as well. Victor is still attracted to his mother, which is seen as acceptable under the following of the Oedipus Complex. However, now that she is a corpse, she is no longer the same mother Victor fell for. Nevertheless, she also is because she is literally Victor’s first and continued love and is the same body and being. He finds comfort in his love for his mother while also dreading that he loves a corpse.

-Wendy Gutierrez

A close reading of the passage where Frankenstein’s creature first sees his reflection in the pool reveals that this experience represents the uncanny and Freud’s theory of the double. The creature desperately wants the cottagers to overlook his physical deformity and accept him, however it goes far beyond just that. The creature states that he “should first win their favour, and afterwards their love,” demonstrating that it isn’t just acceptance or assimilation that he desires, but rather love as well (Shelley 105). This is further emphasized when the creature mentions that he yearns for their “protection and kindness,” presenting the possibility of the cottagers serving as a mother figure (Shelley 118).

The creature was aware of his deformity prior to seeing his reflection, but he was suppressing the reality of the harshness of his physical appearance. He was practicing denial as a defense, or the “unconscious repression and refusal to recognize something,” (Parker 130). However, when he does look at his reflection the subconscious reality comes to life in the form of his double. He also becomes aware of the reality that he might never be able to compensate for his physical appearance, and therefore never find love or any sort of sexual pleasure. Evidence that part of what the creature is seeking is sexual pleasure comes from his desire that the cottagers “sweet looks be directed towards (him) with affection,” because of Freud’s belief that the “look” or “gaze is highly erotic (Shelley 118).

The creature goes on to detail that sometimes he allowed his thoughts “unchecked by reason, to ramble in the fields of Paradise, and dared to fancy amiable and lovely creatures sympathizing with (his) feelings, cheering (his) gloom; their angelic countenances breathed smiles of consolation,” indicating that it is only when he discontinues his repression that these feelings come out (Shelley 118). This passage also tells us that it is a female creature he is speaking of, because he continues to say that “no Eve soothed (his) sorrows,” alluding to the female biblical figure of Eve. After discovering the reality of his physical appearance through the vision of his double, the creature realizes that he will never find love and this realization can be described as uncanny. His desires do not match up with his reality, which causes immense frustration and disorder. This disorder is the cause of the uncanny.