The Absence of Gender Roles=Harmony?
In the reading, “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?” I was personally very attached to the presence of gender roles that emerged as a seemingly central theme to the story. In particular, I felt that the presence of excessive masculinity within the three male characters of the story was accurately representative of, not only some men of the time, but some men from the current day and age that we live in. While it is far from the norm of the times, the excessive nature of the theme was still purposeful (and not completely inaccurate in its nature) for the sake of symbolism.
The symbolism that seemed to come through the story, within my own interpretation, was one that criticizes the presence of gender roles. The women that the men encounter, and eventually interact with, are from a time when they successfully carry on a reasonably happy and pleasant existence without men on the planet. They live in a completely different social structure than our own, with the population mostly consisting of clones of 11,000 different genotypes. Outside of the most obvious expressions of the difference in societal structure that is discussed throughout the bulk of the short story, one of the more evident telling points that shows a difference between the worlds that the two separate parties are respectively occupying is the quote that Andy/Kay says in response to Connie asking how her face is after Bud punched her. She replies “I felt it! I felt physical anger, I wanted to hit him. Woo-ee!” (Tiptree, 217). The observation she makes upon experiencing the sensation of anger makes it appear as if it is some mythological, non-existent experience that is only spoken of in their time. It’s as if it doesn’t even exist in this future world of reconstructed societal structure, occupied by all women, and logically, complimented by the absence of masculinity/gender roles.
It appears that the author wants to say that we could possibly live in a harmonious world/future if the presence of gender roles disappears. In this story, the author creatively and symbolically makes this statement, with the world that the women occupy representing a world/future that doesn’t contain the presence of these sometimes poisonous and non-productive gender roles. Personally, I’d have to agree with it. While the world would need much more overhauling to create complete harmony and utopia than simply the absence of gender roles, the author’s point is still valid. Gender roles in this day and age are simply non-productive social constructs that limit our perception of what certain genders should act like. Much of the ideas about gender roles are continued to be forwarded in media through inaccurate misrepresentation of masculinity and femininity in advertising, movies, and television. This presence in media keeps the idea of gender roles moving forward.
Tiptree, James, and Joanna Russ. Houston, Houston, Do You Read? New York: T. Doherty, 1989. Print.