Esther’s Space- journey through my life

March 18, 2007

The Debt Collectors

Filed under: THEORY 330 — estherspace @ 6:50 pm

‘I think I am in their territory.  They have marked me.  They will come back for me.’

‘Then you can’t possibly stay.’

‘Why not?’

‘Because that would be an invitation to them to return.’

…’What if…what if that is the price one has to pay for staying on?  Perhaps that is show they look at it; perhaps that is how I should look at it too.  They see me as owing something.  They see themselves as debt collectors, tax collectors.  Why should I be allowed to live here without paying?  Perhaps that is what they tell themselves.’

…’Hatred…When it comes to men and sex, David, nothing surprises me any more.  Maybe, for men, hating the woman makes sex more exciting.  You are a man, you ought to know….’  (Disgrace, 158)

I think Gayle Rubin might both cry and cheer at this discussion between Lucy and her father.  Clearly, it confronts the ideas of women as chattel and a means of debt-solution.  However, here Lucy seems to recognize it’s inevitability, but not mind it to some degree and simply regard it as a fact of life.  Obviously, as a liberated, free woman of  northern New York, I was shocked at the level of submission that Lucy showed.  By the same token, however, she is fully aware of how dangerous her position is and may allow herself to maintain mental stability by emotionally removing herself from the sex that the men had with her.  I think that her homosexuality helps this removal in some way, because she does not expect sex with men to be pleasurable.  One difference between Lucy’s actions and Rubin’s theory is the fact that Rubin sees women as a form of gift given between males.  David is certainly not giving Lucy to these men in any way, she is giving herself.  Except she is not exactly giving, she is simply allowing them to take, which I do not consider to be the same gesture of good will.  This is interesting because Lucy’s actions do not necessarily create the “special relationship of trust, solidarity, and mutual aid” (Rubin 1671) that Rubin attributes to gift-giving.  So, Lucy obviously does not have the right to ‘give’ herself, and it will not create the link between her and her assailants.  Rather, I suspect that the situation is much more that Petrus, rather, feels himself to be the holder of rights over Lucy and has given her to the men who attacked her farm.  This neatly follows Rubin’s theory, for that special relationship due to gift-giving was certainly formed, and the woman (Lucy) had did not have the same rights to herself that the men had to her.

As for Rubin cheering, I thought that it was likely that she would share Lucy’s sentiments concerning men and sex.  And I think that she certainly may have struck a truthful chord in regards to her father’s attitude and need for sex.


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