Historically in most societies that exist or have existed in the world equality between the genders is a mere ideal. Even in the present world societies still have a strong element of patriarchy within them. In J.M Coetzee's novel Disgrace Coetzee depicts a South African society in which males clearly dominate the power in relationships with females. Coetzee uses rape as a tool to show how men treat women as inferior beings
[...] It is also interesting to note that it is not Melanie that originally confronts David about the sexual harassment: Melanie's boyfriend is the one who brings the issue to the surface in society. The boyfriend and David himself both treat Melanie as property: David uses her for his own pleasure, while the boyfriend is like a dog protecting his property from invaders. In David's case the boyfriend attacks his real property like his car, and also his reputation through revealing the relations he had with Melanie. [...]
[...] Lucy fails to see what Ettinger does about the changing African society: it is no longer safe for white people, and especially women, living alone. The gun which Ettinger carries represents the power that he holds, and the lack of one Lucy carries indicates her lack of power. Ettinger as a male is able to protect himself, but Lucy, without a gun, must rely on those who carry power (males) with them for survival. In all relationships that are established in J.M Coetzee's “Disgrace” males hold superiority over females. [...]
[...] The domination of gender relationships is revealed in a more direct fashion when after Melanie leaves David's house from spending the night there, and promises to come back to David's house at the end of the day David feels anger at his lack of power to enforce her promise stating is behaving badly he is the one who leads, she the one who follows ”(Coetzee, 28). Despite his actions, during the following committee meeting resulting from Melanie's complaint against him, Lurie is given numerous opportunities to continue his career with minor punishment despite the charges against him, which are never exactly revealed. [...]
[...] He already senses early on in the novel that his “height, good bones, olive skin, his flowering hair” (Coetzee, are slowly receding from him. Through Melanie David is able to feel young again until the world crashes down around him. Lurie's first impression of Bev Shaw is as dumpy old women with a shrill voice” (Coetzee, 79) who he immediately labels as an inferior person. Upon there David classes her in a “subculture” which he finds less than appealing (Coetzee, 72) without even knowing her as a person yet. [...]
[...] From after the attack on Lucy distances herself from all male characters in the book as if defeated by an enemy confiding only in Bev Shaw about her problems that ensue afterwards. The two rapes that are central to the story serve as illustrations of male dominance in society: neither David nor the rapists ever feel real punitive consequences from their actions. David refuses to accept what he did was wrong, claiming Melanie as a piece of property that he claimed as his as is any males right as beauty (females) are not in control of themselves. [...]
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