Misogyny in The Stranger and Trust (1990)

Both pieces of media, The Stranger and Trust (1990), center around men, these being Mersault and Matthew. These men both have love interests, the love interests being Marie and Maria, with Maria being more of the main character. My main issue is with Marie from the novel The Stranger. In the book, Marie is never a fleshed-out character, despite being an important character for the events within the novel. 

Marie is seen as merely an extension of Mersault, not as a unique individual. Furthermore, most descriptions of Marie are when he is having sex with her or thinking about having sex with her, illustrating that Mersault likely just sees her as a sex object. 

Trust is different in that regard, with Maria being a more fleshed-out character. However, Maria is also an extension of the male main character, albeit in a more subtle way. Maria’s development centers around Matthew, constantly trying to prove to him how smart and mature. Even conflicts with her mother heavily center around men in the story, that being her dad, her (ex) boyfriend, and Matthew. Matthew, on the other hand, has his character development rely not only on Maria but also on the events of his job and conflicts with his father.
 

In the end, Trust  is not a movie that criticizes the misogynistic troupes, leading to said troupes not being challenged and an overall misogynistic mi

Conformity in “The Secret Woman” and “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere”

The short stories “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere” and “The Secret Woman” both have one thing in common: the theme of conformity. The short story “The Secret Woman” deals with female expectations of sexuality. For context, “The Secret Woman” was written in the first half of the 1900s. In the short story, a man who attends a sex party on his own accord is shocked when his wife, Irene, sneaks off to a sex party. The husband uses the term “Imprisoned” to describe the arms of the men engaged with Irene at the party, suggesting a possessiveness to her sexuality. Furthermore, Irene’s hands are described as demonic by her husband, displaying that he views her sexuality as “sinful”, which reflects on puritanical views of women at the time that the story was written. While the husband goes to the sex party for his own enjoyment, he only sees a fault in his wife being there, displaying the double standards in female and male sexuality and how they are able to be expressed. Irene defying conformity exposes the harsh reality of how women’s sexuality was viewed at the time, and how it is in many ways, viewed now. 

Likewise, the short story “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere” shares the common theme of conformity. Dina, the main character, is a black woman at Yale. Throughout the story, Dina is shown to isolate herself, even from Heidi, who is portrayed as her only friend. She isolates herself by stocking up on ramen in order to avoid talking to others, denying her own sexuality, and describing herself as a revolver when asked the question of an object that she would be. These examples of her trying to stray away from her peers reflect her refusal to conform at Yale, a place where, throughout the story, it is evident that she feels isolated at. Her race, sexuality, and backround all contribute to this. She is one of the few black people at the PWI and faces a crisis of identity due to her sexuality that causes her to go through self-loathing. Her family life, with her dead mother, invertedly caused her to be harsh to Heidi, following the death of Heidi’s mother. Her isolation causes her to not conform to the other students at Yale, resulting in her moving back to Baltimore with an Aunt that she barely knew. 

Both “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere” and “The Secret Woman” deal with non-conformity as a result of identity, whether that be gender, race, or sexuality. 

Human trafficking and Semplica Girls

One aspect of human trafficking that isn’t known enough is that often times it goes unnoticed. In the case of the novel The Semplica Girl Diaries, the human ornaments called Semplica Girls are common, with nearly every single house in the narrator’s neighborhood having them. Semplica Girls are from impoverished foreign countries like the Philippines or Moldova, who sign a contract in order to become a human decorations. What can be said about human trafficking, whether that be for forced labor or organ harvesting, is that the victims are often from impoverished backgrounds, as those people are easier to exploit. Another aspect that ties the Semplica Girls into human trafficking is that towards the end of the novel, the detective mentions that activists cause the city a problem because they frequently interfere with the Semplica Girls by freeing them. If the Semplica Girls really enjoyed their job or were Seplica Girls voluntarily, why would they object to being free? Wouldn’t they fight back, or take another action to ensure that they would keep their job? It’s clear that since they willingly leave once freed, they are trapped in a job that they don’t want to be in. 

Furthermore, the narrator is careful to explain to Eva that the Semplica Girls aren’t actually being exploited, they choose their jobs and would have a worse situation otherwise. By showing the tragic nature of the backgrounds of the Semplica Girls, the narrator only further illustrates that the Semplica Girls are coerced into their job, that the people who run the company seek out vulnerable females for a cruel industry. With the combined exploitation of vulnerable females and the caging nature of the job, it is evident that Semplica Girls serve as a commentary on the pervasiveness of human trafficking