Essay #4 - Glazer 1 Jay Glazer Writing 140 Section#64750R...

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Glazer 1 Jay Glazer Writing 140, Section #64750R Mrs. Irwin November 13, 2007 Assignment #4 Out of the Kitchen and into Science Fiction It used to be said that women deserved no significant place in science fiction. Times have changed: today women are accepted in powerful and dominating roles in science fiction. When the genre of science fiction was born, women typically played weak and subservient roles, such as Lois Lane in the Superman comics of the 1950s. The women in these works filled the role of the damsel in distress, often requiring the assistance of a masculine force of bravery and courage to save them. However, hard- fought battles for women’s rights led to an expansion in what was considered to be an acceptable role for a woman in popular culture. A groundbreaking role for women was Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver in Aliens , and directed by James Cameron. The character of Ripley shatters the feminine stereotype of the inferior and vulnerable female lead, as she takes on a brave and physically dominant role. Aliens was released in 1986, when the role of women had drastically evolved over the course of the previous three decades, shattering previous gender roles. The film reflects society’s growing acceptance of the ability of women to assert themselves physically, to use technology, and to break free of the traditional and archaic expectations of the past. These science fiction works are significant because they reflect the evolution of the role of women within society. Although the Superman comics were meant for entertainment, they offer insight into society’s view of women through the lens of science fiction. The character Lois Lane reflects a sexist and limited view of femininity within a patriarchal society. The comic series often portrayed Lois as being weak, and a threat to Superman’s
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Glazer 2 independence and masculinity. Superman represents the idealized male fantasy. Clark Kent is unburdened by relationships and obligations, and he is free to take the role of Superman whenever he is needed. In the comic books: women are a nuisance; at worst, a threat not just to male freedom, represented primarily by crime fighting, but to the most important signifier of male power in the genre, the secret identity. Just as threats to the superhero took the form of either the literal loss of power or the loss of the secret identity, so the mere possession of the secret of the secret identity signified the power of the superhero (Best 20). The superhero secret identity represents the desire of men to be uninhibited by the burdens and responsibilities that women present. Lois’ threat to Superman’s identity corresponds to a threat t his masculinity. The perception that women endanger the independence of men is prevalent throughout the Superman comic series of the 1950s.
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