Sexism: a Thematic Approach to David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly

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  • Topic: Gender, Man, David Henry Hwang
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  • Published : September 25, 2005
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A Thematic Approach to David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly
Sexism, according to Webster's Dictionary, is the "discrimination against people, especially women, on the basis of sex" (588). Hwang uses a sexist approach in portraying the story of M. Butterfly. He accurately displays the thoughts of men towards women throughout the early and mid twentieth century in China. Sexism, a central theme of M. Butterfly, is prevalent from the beginning to the end of the play.

The first sign of sexism is noted on page 1678 of The Bedford Introduction to Literature Reading ∙ Thinking ∙ Writing edited by Michael Meyer in the retelling of Madame Butterfly by Giacoma Puccini. "Pinkerton purchased the rights to Butterfly for one hundred yen- in modern currency, equivalent to about… sixty-six cents" (Meyer, 1678). The idea of purchasing a wife is indicative of the absence of importance placed on women in the early 1900's.

In another scene, the time is 1947. Marc is discussing with Gallamard about an upcoming party. Sexism is still as prominent in the mid 1900's as the early 1900's. Marc states, Who cares? The point is, they come. On trucks. Packed in like sardines. The back flips open, babes hop out, we're ready to roll... Before you know it, every last one of them- stripped and splashing around the pool. There's no moon out, they can't see what's going on, their boobs are flapping, right? You close your eyes, reach out- its grab bag, get it? Doesn't matter whose ass is between whose legs, whose teeth are sinking into who. You're just in there, going at it, eyes close, on an on for as long as you can stand. (pause) Some fun, huh? (Meyer, 1680). Women are shown as sex objects, only good to please a man in the most primitive way. Hwang shows the sexist attitude toward women in this accurate description of college boys and their thoughts about girls.

Another form of sexism is noted on page 1683 of M. Butterfly. Gallamard discussing his marriage to Helga...
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