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“My Year of Meats” by Ruth Ozeki Review Essay

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Updated: Sep 14th, 2021

Introduction

While regarding and analyzing the issues of the race, gender and reproduction, it would be relevant to refer to American burgeoning novelist – Ruth Ozeki, who has been expressly noted for her valiant efforts in favor of cultural as well as social causes, and to refer to her primary creative novel “My Year of Meats” (1998). Following the topic under consideration, it is necessary to say that this highly committed novelist’s major concerns and ideas define her writing style and, thus, explicitly affirm her strong and valuable social outlook in her works.

Discussion

The novel of the interest – “My Year of Meats” unequivocally represents some most fundamental aspects of modern American life – race, reproduction, and gender. In this regard it is significant that the novelist, through the bi – racial Asian American woman character signed up to produce documentaries on American white – bread families for the Japanese market, connects to some important questions such as racial and national identity, the issues related with reproduction, and gender.

In her attempt to make reader get the message of her concern, Ruth Ozeki centers on the issues concerning human health, especially women’s reproduction, in a racial and cultural context. That is to say, “the novel links modes of production that shape our experience (meat and media) in order to address the critical role that race and racism play in reproduction.” (Sheffer, 2008). A close reading of the novel unambiguously confirms this attempt of the novelist as she skillfully and creatively uses the original Japanese American character Jane who is six-foot-tall, green-haired rebel for such an effect. The character who identifies as “polysexual, polyracial, and perverse” and speaks “men’s Japanese” is an obvious illustration of the novel’s concern for the questions of race, reproduction, and gender. (Ozeki, 1998, p. 9).

It is through the character of Jane that the novel deals with the pertinent questions of race, reproduction, and gender. The plot of the novel suggests that Jane makes certain attempts to investigate on the problem of using meat as it affects the health of individuals and especially the reproductive organism of the women is essential in an understanding of the question of reproduction in the novel.

Other than this primary theme of reproduction, Ozeki’s novel directly focuses on the question of race and gender. At this point, it is essential to understand that author aims to show the problem of reproduction in the politicized female version of the problem under consideration. Thus, the novel forges a collective “form of resistance to the individual, patriarchal, and corporate agents that endanger women’s bodies and attack their sexuality worldwide.” (Black, 2004, p. 226 – 256). Following this, it would be relevant to suggest that the novel has significant concerns addressed through the actions of the protagonist. All the attempts of the character, therefore, lead ultimately to some of the primary questions developed through this paper.

In this analysis, it is important to comprehend that if one fails to make connections between consuming and desiring, the result will be, as the novel suggests, disastrous. Through the narration of the novel, the author has been effectively disseminating the central ideas of race, gender and reproduction and an element of interrelation among these themes is evident to the reader. “Ozeki links corrupt market forces to the destructive deployment of stereotypes and power relations based on gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and nationality… With pathos and humor, Ozeki’s work suggests the necessity of environmental justice as a collective movement in a global economy that uses gender stereotyping, animals, marketing, and media manipulation to feed the insatiable modern desire to consume and appropriate otherness for profit and power.” (Fish, 2003).

Therefore, the novel’s explicit concerns for the questions of race, reproduction, and gender is clear and a more pertinent question for the future research can include an investigation into the relationship among these crucial concepts of the novel. In such a research, presumably, a better awareness of the basic concerns of the novelist becomes possible. In fact, there is an inevitable relation among these questions as the issue of reproduction when feminized reaches a stage where the questions concerning gender are part of the attempt. And the cultural background of race of the novel contributes to the complete picture of the analysis of the novel.

The life story of Jane identified, as “polysexual, polyracial, and perverse” surrounded by the various stereotypes and faced the unfairness of the corrupted market, helps to understand the author’s key idea and message to reader that the issues of gender, race and reproduction are profoundly linked and should be thought together, because this is, actually, the way how they operate (Ozeki, p. 9). It is important to state that while investigating on the questions of race, reproduction, and gender individually, a wider research incorporating the relation among these questions makes the effort more fruitful.

Bibliography

Sheffer, Jolie A. Guns, race, meat, and Manifest Destiny”: Media-Mediated Identity in Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meats. 2008 Web.

Ozeki, Ruth. My Year of Meats. New York: Penguin, 1998, p 9.

Black, Shameem. Fertile Cosmofeminism: Ruth L. Ozeki and Transnational Reproduction. Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism. 5.1 2004. p. 226-256.

Fish, Cheryl J. Environmental Justice Made Manifest: Toxic Comedy, Documentary, and Ecofeminist Resistance in Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meats” 2003. Web.

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IvyPanda. "“My Year of Meats” by Ruth Ozeki Review." September 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/my-year-of-meats-by-ruth-ozeki-review/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "“My Year of Meats” by Ruth Ozeki Review." September 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/my-year-of-meats-by-ruth-ozeki-review/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) '“My Year of Meats” by Ruth Ozeki Review'. 14 September.

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