Being True to Yourself, Not to Society

In Swift’s two works that we read, we can interpret several hidden meanings he wanted to share within the text. One could read it literally and clearly see a disgust for women by Swift, or one could read it as a critique on societal expectations. By assuming the latter is what Swift intended to portray, I believe that he criticized women for altering themselves enough to match the expectations of society, and he also (and perhaps ultimately) criticized men for expecting these standards in women.

I actually had a harder time relating Swift back to Butler, although I did find some similar themes in the end. Since one focuses on homosexuality and the other purely on societal norms, it seemed as if they both had different messages. However, when addressing the themes in both works as a whole, I found that they were very similar. They both stress the importance of natural and true identity (“natural” meaning inner). Swift encourages people to recognize the absurdity of society’s expectations in A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed by describing her (before she goes to bed) as a “Muse” and a “lovely goddess” (Swift). These two descriptions are not descriptions of humans, they are ideal and impossible for any real woman to be. On the other hand, Butler takes it to a whole new level by criticizing society’s outlook on gender as a whole.

Our biological sex could be the original of some people’s true gender, but definitely not all. It depends on what you consider to be “original”. Does it include the genitalia one is born with, or is it the image you have of yourself inside? I agree with Butler when she says “if it were not for the notion of the homosexual as a copy, there would be no construct of heterosexuality as origin” (Butler, 723). I also believe that this whole idea of ‘original’ and ‘copy’ is an idea circulating through our society, and it is hard to step back from and alter. Now whether heterosexuality came first or not is a different question. I think that the heterosexual acts came first (for both biblical and evolutional reasons), but it’s hard to say whether or not people way back when practiced both or not. It’s just one of those things we will unfortunately never be able to find out. If we could, and actually did prove that homosexuality was apparent in the caveman days, maybe our views of sexuality would be different today.

Until then, we will have to continue to read people like Butler and Swift to get a better understanding of how our social system (gender-wise) could possibly be flawed.

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One thought on “Being True to Yourself, Not to Society

  1. Andrea,
    Well done! Thank you for addressing every aspect we asked of you in a clear, concise, and explicit way. You made grading your blog very easy.
    Grade:(S)
    -Ja’Nae

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