Feminity in the Male Dominated World of Science Fiction

Topics: Octavia E. Butler, Science fiction, Science fiction studies Pages: 8 (1828 words) Published: July 26, 2010
|Femininity in the Male Dominated World of Science Fiction | | | | | |Christel August Haygood | |Dr. Loretta Burns | |ENGL 400.01 | |April 26, 2010 |

Octavia Butler has used the nontraditional characterization of female characters in her various works to express the themes of sexuality, race, issues of social criticism, and the role of women in society. This can be seen in many of her works such as Kindred, Fledgling, and Bloodchild and Other Stories. Through her eyes, she uses her female characters to portray the heroes. With this, Butler uses her stories to explore the issues that face them at that time. Butler expertly integrates the use of science fictive storytelling as a means of awakening the world to the issues that face society, and especially society to the plight of African Americans.

In this study, one will analyze Octavia Butler’s female character “Edana” and how she uses this woman to explore the realms of sexuality, societal position and race in the world that Butler creates for them. It will be supported primarily through her work Kindred; it will also present evidence from outside critics of her works and authors who are also knowledgeable of this particular topic area. The main points to be presented will be: What is the purpose of using the elements of science fiction in order to engage readers in a particular story? How is each female character used to explain the various aspects of women in society? Why does Butler choose to use female characters to tackle such issues of the aforementioned social criticism that she makes a central theme in many of her novels? In the various articles that have been written on Butler’s characters, her main theme sequence has been represented wholly. Ruth Salvaggio, author of “Octavia Butler and the Black Science Fiction Heroine,” express that Butler consistently uses the themes of racism and sexuality for her characters to use their honed survival skills in order to overcome the social barriers that exist during the period(s) that she places them in. In Dana’s case, she is transported between both the 1970’s and the 1800’s. Butler allows her reader to be able to watch in first person how Dana learned to survive and not necessarily through blunt force, but through thinking and learning the important skill of adaptation. Author Hoda Zaki links her awareness of societal taboos as that of a Utopia/Dystopia atmosphere. In her book, “Utopia, Dystopia, and Ideology in the Science Fiction of Octavia Butler,” Zaki points out Butler’s ability to address the issue of racism in a genre that it is not typically made aware. She continues that Butler takes the views of Science fiction and adds a humanistic quality in which a non-scientific reader is able to comprehend and enjoy.

The groundbreaking story telling of Butler is profound in the sense that she is writing in a genre that is not populated by many female writers and definitely not by members of the African American community. Edana is the narrator and the readers have the opportunity to witness her experiences as she encounters them. The story opens with Edana and her husband setting up house as they are recently married and moving into their first house in the 1970’s. As the story continues, we find that Dana is called back in time to the plantation where her ancestors lived during the 1800’s as slaves. She soon learns that she is experiencing these “trips” in order to secure her future. What is...

Bibliography: Gates. New York: Meridian, 1990. 471-478.
Best, Allison Stein. “Octavia E. Butler.” Science Fiction Chronicle: The Monthly
Science Fiction & Fantasy Newsmagazine 17.3 (1996): 8, 42-43.
American Studies, Inc. 22.1 (2003): 16-20.
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Jesser, Nancy. “Blood, Genes and Gender in Octavia Butler’s Kindred and Dawn.”
Extrapolation: A Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy 43.1 (2002): 36-61
Fiction and Fantasy 43.1 (2002): 36-61.
Salvaggio, Ruth. "Octavia Butler and the Black Science Fiction Heroine." Black
American Literature Forum 18.2 (1984): 78-81.
Zaki, Hoda M. "Utopia, Dystopia, and Idealogy in the Science Fiction of Octavia
Butler." Science Fiction Studies 17.2 (1990): 239-251.
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