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Today, it is evident that the society has made a distinction between a man and a woman. Ideas concerning these two gender roles have changed over time, but still have particular beliefs attached to them that reveal issues defining a particular gender, and the way such gender is ought to behave.
These beliefs and ideas have been presented in the book The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan. Particularly, his poem “Smoking” exposes the author’s perceptions about gender and sexuality which other authors create their own arguments about.
Sexuality/Gender in the Poem
In the poem “Smoking”, David Levithan describes his first experience in smoking with his lover Jed. The author is gay bringing in the issue of how a man should behave and what defines him. The fact that he is male does not necessarily make him have the same feelings as the society expects from men.
The author is deeply in love with a fellow man who gives him happiness more than what the society would think of him.In stanza 2, the author reveals the fact that he is gay, while in stanza 3 he reveals that he never wanted to be a cowboy like most young boys usually do. But the author still goes ahead and asks for Marlboros to be perceived as a man by others (Levithan 2-11).
The poem shows how the person who has never tried smoking. On the other hand, he has only known the vanilla scented smoke. In our society today, such a scent will most likely be known to a girl rather than male. Society has different expectations from the person when it comes to gender and sexuality matters.
This is why the person and his lover dare not hold hands in public unless they are out of sight. The female gender is generally or rather scientifically said to be more emotional as opposed to being logical like men. However, in the poem we establish that the person who is a man is also emotional like a woman is.
He displays his emotions when Jed asked him for a date the first time. The person says that he almost cried and became dreamy about the whole idea with his new lover (Levithan 2-11). The poem “Smoking” therefore brings out the issues of sexuality and gender that have become the matter of concern in the society.
Other Author’s perceptions on the Poem
According to Monique Wittig, one is not born a woman but becomes a woman. However, it is also argued that what defines a woman is her capacity to give birth. The author reveals how women were oppressed in earlier days and seen as a weaker sex which was treated inferior to men.
This is said to have been a political sort of constraint and therefore any woman who resisted was not viewed as a real woman. The author belongs to the lesbian group and wishes to destroy the ‘woman’ class because it is an oppressive terminology by virtue of its historical attachment. The author seeks to destroy “woman” because lesbianism does not category sex and thus has no oppressive gender affiliations.
It is further revealed from the article that, a lesbian is not a woman because for one to be considered a woman, she must have a relation in the social world with a man. This social relation is referred to as servitude in that one would have both physical, economic, personal obligations, conjugal rights and other domestic obligations.
Lesbians escape all this because they decline from being heterosexuals in order to join hands in destroying the class ‘women’. The author believes this class has to be destroyed because it is considered inferior; heterosexuality ought to be destroyed first (Wittig 128-134).
Monique Wittig has evidently a different perspective of what defines a woman. In relation to the poem in ‘realm of possibility’, this author would agree with the gay relationship in the poem.
This is because she does not believe that sexuality has to involve opposite sexes but rather that it can be of same sexes just as she is a lesbian. Sexual freedom is what she believes in, for purposes of destroying this society that has placed ‘classes’ of inferiority based on gender. This means that, as long as the relationship does not support the ‘woman class’, then it is acceptable (Wittig 128-134).
Another author (Williams 15-60) in his book highlights the resentment gay people have when it comes to payment taxes for married people. Married people are said to acquire lower taxes and thus unfair to the gay people who are also married. The fact that heterosexuals are given more privileges is annoying to the gay community, and they would also like to have such privileges.
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The heterosexuals also have the right to divorce while the gays do not posses that right and can thus remain unhappy when their marriages fail to overcome difficulties of married life. In relation to the poem “Smoking” in the book ‘Realm of possibility’, Williams would also have agreed with the way the gay are being treated differently in society.
In the poem, it is evident that, the two gay partners try hard to appear as normal males by buying Marlboro and also not holding hands in public. The gay community is not free to enjoy the rights that heterosexuals enjoy. This is because the society disagrees with same gender sex relationships thus making such relationships less valued and less accepted.
Keddie also brings out her perception of gender and sexuality (Keddie 20-34). In her book, she argues that there ought to be more attention given to childcare as well as birth, which are the roots of women inferiority and low income.
The author attests that, these problems still exist today and that employment equality that is advocated by feminists, cannot alone be a solution. Women are assumed to have the responsibility of making new beings and taking care of them.
This has for long been taken for granted and instead left women to be subjected to oppression. Just like the first author, Nikki feels that women are subjected to oppression and inferiority which ought to be addressed and thus same sex relationships would be perceived as normal.
In relation to the poem, this author would have agreed with the gay partners because there is no form of oppression involved (Keddie 10-64).
My personal view about the Poem is that women have for some time not enjoyed the rights that men enjoyed. Historically, women were considered less important or rather a weaker sex whose duty is to nurture children and cater for men.
In fact, the term ‘woman’ in some cultures is like an insult. This means that, what is taken to define a woman does not match or fit the gay relationship where the position of a woman has been given to a man.
The gay couple might continue with their relationship in secret because the societal expectations of the way a man should be like, are different. In a nutshell, it can be argued that the definition of a man or a woman is different and not the same as in earlier days.
Today there exists some equality before the law between the two genders, to a large extent. However, where there are loopholes, sexuality has been a problem especially with the lesbians and gay people. These groups do not enjoy freedom and equal rights with homosexuals because they have different sexual perceptions.
Keddie, Nikki. Debating gender, debating Sexuality, London: Blackwell Publishers, 1996.
Levithan, David, the Realm of Possibility, Knop Books for Young Readers, 2006
Williams, Christine, Sexuality and Gender, London: New York University Press 2002.
Wittig, Monique, “One is not a Woman”, Feminist Issues 1, no 4 (1981):128-134