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Kevin Garcia

English 102

Ms. Batty



Discrimination has been an issue for humans throughout history dated since the 18 th

century to now. We have developed discrimination due to people having a different

characteristic, beliefs or having a different background then others. The most common

discrimination we have seen now is race, sexuality, and gender. People have expressed their

opinion through different medium of communication for an example tv, internet, blogs and

books. In the stories “Left hand of darkness” by Ursula K. Le Guin and “M. Butterfly" David

Henry Hwang both use racism, sexuality and gender to tell a story and the writers' opinion on the

topic. Both authors have similar and contrasting ideas on the topic of discrimination. M.

Butterfly is a fiction story told about a man that was relocated to a new country due to a job

opportunity and meets an actress in which opens his shown a new perspective to the culture and

gender roles. In Left Hand of Darkness is sci fi story is about a character that is also visiting a

new planet in which he is as to be a medium to convince this new planet to an alliance. There

both similar in plot but have different ideas of sexuality, gender and race.

In both David and Ursula Book have two different stories in which both stories have a

different opinion of how race is treated. David Henry Hwang uses race to show how other
cultures have prejudice to each other and how their race is superior than each other. An example

is when a character says, “You think you’ve been touched by the whitey god?” (Ursula 13). In

this scene the author explains how this character offends another person with a different faith and

different complexion by diminishing the other character god. In an article by Hsiao-hung Chang

named “Cultural/Sexual/Theatrical Ambivalence” wrote “the play seems to repeat and to

deconstruct at the same time the stereotypical representation of the Orient. (1)” shows how the

play itself is a stereotype. The author Ursula K. Le Guin describe race in the story to be more

neutral, there is still prejudice but it all depends on the situation. An example is when the main

character has a conversation with the king and the king says, "I don't know what the devil you

are, Mr. Ai, a sexual freak or an artificial monster or a visitor from the Domains of the Void, but

you're not a traitor, you've merely been the tool of one. (Ursula 19)” the king offends the main

character but still shows some unbiased. In an article by Mona Fayad she wrote “The very fact of

his existence represents an epistemological break for those Gethenians willing to believe--unlike

the King of Karhide.(4)” Mona explains that the people of Karhide’s see the main character as a

neutral identity, they do not fear him but don’t dislike him either. There also some similarities in

which both authors both shown in their books. In both books shows how the main characters do

not feel welcome in their temporary homes but feel more comfortable once they spend time with

the culture. There are also stereotypes between two different group of people which their race is

better than the race. In both stories they feel that their race is superior than the other race which

leads to the main issue in the stories. Racism is something people develop due to misleading

information or due to judging a person action and then building a stereotype to that race.

Racism is an issue that we are dealing today in several countries.

Sexuality was told different in these two stories one was more accepted and the other was

looked down upon. In the play “M. Butterfly”, we saw how homosexuality was a looked upon in

the story by one culture and how they perceive it. In one part of the play Song was talking to her

superior about her mission and her superior says “Shut up! And you won't stink up China

anymore with your pervert stuff. You'll pollute the place where pollution begins-the West.

(Hwang 72)” the commander knows that song is a male and tells him that that he is as toxic as

their country rivals. This show how homosexuality is not accepted in song’s country which is

also comes with a penalty, In the article “Cultural/Sexual/Theatrical Ambivalence in M.

Butterfly” the writer writes “these heterosexual Asian-American men's indignation against

"effeminate" stereotype should be read not only in light of the historically enforced feminization

of Asian American men but also in light of the gender conflict long existing in Asian-American

literary studies(2)” the article explains that homosexuality was look down upon throughout Asian

history and that is something that is still present today. Another topic in the left hand of darkness

is sexuality. In the book, kemmering is a term when two people grows either a male or female

part where the can have intercourse. In one chapter of the book it states, “In those days, as now,

full brothers were permitted to keep kemmer until one of them should bear a child, but after that

they must separate; so, it had never permitted them to vow kemmering for life. ( Ursula 10)”

kemmering is acceptable even it’s a sibling but it is not acceptable to do it for life. This show us

that homosexuality is not an issue in Winter but there is issue with incest. In a scholar journey

written by Wendy Gay Pearson she states “the Gethenians sexual/asexual nature makes them

responsive to monthly cycles, thus linking their experience of sex and gender to human women's

experience of menstruation. (3)” the writer states that both parties of the relationship will

experience the same sexual experiences. Homosexuality in both stories was shown to be
common, the main characters had to questioned if he was a straight man or gay man. Also, both

stories had side characters that was open with their sexuality and did not care what other people

care about them. Not every person will accept the freedom of choosing who they love due to

beliefs or opinion, but we have seen more countries accept it. Sexuality is not the only issue

where both stories take upon it also the issues with gender.

In both stories gender roles are define differently, one is strict roles and the other one is

nonexistent roles. In a scene in “M. Butterfly” the author expresses the point of view of a

western role vs an eastern role which says “You've been very patient dealing with my ...

eccentricities. A Western man used to women freer with -- their bodies. (Hwang 51)” song is

talking to Gallimard about the stereotype of women in Gallimard's country, which are more

obedient to the male. In the article "Who's to say?" or, making space for gender and ethnicity in

'M. Butterfly.' by Karen Shimakawa wrote “It suggests that analyses of shifting gender identity

must also take into account the ways gender is projected onto geography, and that international

power relations and race are also, inevitably, inscribed in our figurations of gender.(2)” the

writer explains that gender roles are tied into the region they live and the beliefs of the person.

The story M. Butterfly explains the effects of stereotypes of race, sexuality, and gender from a

different perspective. In Ursula book gender is nonexistent, the people in winter are both gender

and there are not specific roles for the Gethenians. An example is when the protagonist says, “I

tried to, but my efforts took the form of self-consciously seeing a Gethenian first as a man, then

as a woman, forcing him into those categories so irrelevant to his nature and so essential to my

own.(Ursula 10)” this shows Ai the lead character being confused to of the gender and also

accepting who that person is. In Mona Fayad article there is a part where she explains on how Ai

is perceived from the people in winter, Mona Fayad wrote “he translates the "neutral" sexual
identity of the androgynes he encounters into assigned "masculine" and "feminine" roles.(4)” this

show how Ai is more stable role. In both stories the roles of the protagonist are very similar, in

the beginning they feel very masculine then later in the story they switch roles to the feminine

role. Also, there is a secondary character that changes the character from a masculine role to the

feminine role. Gender roles is very complex, there are several opinions on whether there she

should be roles or roles makes it simpler but it all depends on the situation or in this case the


In conclusion in the books Left Hand of Darkness and M. butterfly both describes the

issue of being different and the stereotypes that come with it. These stories tell us how people

feel when they are coming to a new county, love the opposite gender, or feel like they have

limitation due to their gender. In the stories written by David and Ursula talks about how each of

the characters go through the struggle of dealing with race, sexuality and gender roles. These

stories have their own lessons to teach the reader and have their own opinion of the situation but

also shown similarities in which character is introduce it in the stories. Discrimination is a huge

issue worldwide; some countries are heading to the direction to acceptance of whatever the

person chooses to do and other countries want people to follow whatever the culture or what the

government says. An example of countries on which have change their laws to battle against

discrimination is Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Sweden and Germany these 4 countries legalize

gay marriage and have accepted their beliefs. I believe that people can't not be judge or limited

by their beliefs, sexuality or by their gender. I believe people should be accepted to any place or

any environment if they are not going either hurt any person or do any that might endanger the

other person life. I hope we all become more open minded and more willing to learn different

cultures to help another feel welcomed.


1.Chang, Hsiao-hung. "Cultural/Sexual/Theatrical Ambivalence in M. Butterfly." Contemporary

Literary Criticism, edited by Jeffrey W. Hunter, vol. 196, Gale, 2005. Literature Resource
11e3. Accessed 6 Nov. 2018. Originally published in Tamkang Review, vol. 23, no. 1-4, 1992,
pp. 135-155.

2.Shimakawa, Karen. "'Who's to say?' or, making space for gender and ethnicity in 'M.
Butterfly.'." Theatre Journal, vol. 45, no. 3, 1993, p. 349+. Literature Resource Center,
70. Accessed 6 Nov. 2018.

3.Pearson, Wendy Gay. "Postcolonialism/s, gender/s, sexuality/ies and the legacy of The Left
Hand of Darkness: Gwyneth Jones's Aleutians talk back." Yearbook of English Studies, vol. 37,
no. 2, 2007, p. 182+. Literature Resource Center,
2d8. Accessed 6 Nov. 2018.

4. Fayad, Mona. "Aliens, androgynes, and anthropology: Le Guin's critique of representation in

The Left Hand of Darkness." Mosaic: A journal for the interdisciplinary study of literature, vol.
30, no. 3, 1997, p. 59+. Literature Resource Center,
115. Accessed 6 Nov. 2018.
Le Guin, Ursula K., 1929-2018. The Left Hand of Darkness. New York :Ace Science Fiction

Books, 19871969. Print.

Hwang, David H, and Giacomo Puccini. M. Butterfly. New York, N.Y: New American Library,
1989. Print.