Sunday, March 8, 2009

Tiptree / Sheldon- T/ruth is in the system

Tiptree Sheldon manipulates the relationship between man and woman, man and science, woman and other, and woman and science. Perhaps she does this for the reasons Jameson discusses in Chapter 8: the impossibility of comprehending that which is unknown. If this is so, she uses this trope of "unknowabiliity" to show the inability of man in contrast to the ability of woman. I assert this because, in Tiptree/Sheldon short stories man's perspective is often restricted to and wholly influenced by a "closed" prescriptive paradigm that relies on religion or on traditional male stereotypical behaviour and the thought patterns that support such behaviour. In contraposition to man's perspective is woman's "open" descriptive paradigm.
This is most explicitly seen in "houston, houston" and the "women men don't see". In Houston Houston the crew of the Sunbird all exemplify different yet related systems of belief. All three are grounded in science however are varied beyond that central sytstem of belief. Bud holds a male-centric, woman as chattle and secondary viewpoint, Dave holds to Christian doctrine that imbues man with power while placing woman in servtitude, and Dr Lorimer, though not holding to any belief aside from science, does not understand life and civilization without a male-centric system in place. Close in resemblance is Don. His belief with regards to women, extrapolated from his observations of Ruth and her daughter, hold men as being naturally dominant and the purveyor of reason, safety, and the undeniable center of survival.

The antagonists of the men are woman who are self sufficient and have found ways to survive beyond the limits of the system of beliefs the men hold to. In addition, they have embraced potential of technology and in the case of "women men don't see" a completely foreign culture(that of the aliens) and with it their beliefs.

By Tiptree/Sheldon enacting a positive relationship between woman and belief systems aside or beyond those that the men function within, she also enacts an oppositional relationship between men and women so much so that both find the other - replaceable. This last fact is seen in Ruth and her daughter's opting to go away with aliens in lieu of staying with the men at the crash site, it is also seen in the woman of Gloria(and the civilization they repesent, in their reliance on cloning and their extermination of the men, given that they now had means to survive without them.

In an alternate way the same relationship between woman and man are played out in "girl plugged in", "screwfly", "love...", "Your Faces". In the first story man literaly embraces/ falls in love with science and technology and allows it to displace woman all together. In screwfly - religion is seen as annihilating the already delicate relationship between man and woman. In "love.." and "your faces.." alternate takes of reality displace the male/female relationship.

What is evident in all of the previously discussed work is the fact that the male/female relationship is not fixed as society proclaims it to be. It is in fact malleable, captive to those beliefs we choose to view as truth.
This last mention of truth is purposeful as Tiptree/Sheldon refers to it in "women men don't see" via Althea (Heidegerrian notion of truth?) the daughter of ruth - who is searching out her/society's missing T... Truth is in the system

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