Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sexualization in Dystopian Literature (READ: Hunger Games)

So, on Tuesday last week, we had two presenters come to our class to talk about dystopian literature and sexual objectification in different works, like A Handmaids Tale, Brave New World, and Mockingjay. While it was really interesting hearing about the other two books, I had never read them, so I didn't really have much to say on the matter. When it came to Mockingjay and Hunger Games, though, I have plenty of opinions.

I mostly agree with everything that Dr. Carpenter and the other presenter said. I want to focus mainly on Finnick and Katniss and their sexualization. Finnick, when he won his games, was 14, attractive, and a hero. So, to keep him under control, President Snow turned him into a prostitute in the Capitol. Every year when the Games rolled around, he was subjected to performing sexual acts for whomever could afford him. And he made sure that he came at quite a cost. Rather than getting money for his sexual favors, he demanded secrets. In this way, at least he got something other than humiliation and deprecation from his forced prostitution. I think this is the only way he could have done what he was forced to do without going completely crazy. And of course, the only reason he did it at all was to save the woman he loved, Annie Cresta, from being murdered by Snow. Snow had slowly taken away everyone Finnick loved. But Finnick would not let him take Annie. I believe that Finnick is the bravest, most selfless character in the series because of what he did for Annie alone. Yes, there are other examples of his braveness, but the fact that, from such a young age, he was willing to sell himself to save his love means more than anything else.

As for Katniss, who we didn't speak a whole lot about, she was sexualized as well, and at at times by those supporting her. She was made into a love struck teenager by Peeta before her first Games even started. Making her more "desirable", he and Haymitch claimed, would help them win over sponsors. But nonetheless, it was still degrading. Then, after the Games, she was forced to be madly in love with Peeta in front of the Districts and the Capitol by Snow. He told her to convince him and everyone else of their undying love, or basically watch her family die. This is sexualization in a more innocent form, but she is still selling her body in a fashion. Then, she is turned into a symbol of the rebellion. Using her person as a symbol of hope. Again, not sexual in a crude use of the word, but still using her body somewhat against her will; she does not always like being the Mockingjay.

I had a great time listening to all of our speakers last week, but I feel like the sexualization resounded most with me.

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