September 1, 2010

Parasitic Relationships [review time]

“Bloodchild” and “Passengers” attempt to convey very different messages through the use of a parasitic relationship. However, a similarity between the two texts is the inappropriate transference of responsibility from the “host” to the parasite. In Silverberg’s story, the parasite personifies drunkenness to alleviate the responsibility for actions committed in a state of intoxication. “Bloodchild” treats males as parasites and women as hosts for their offspring. It ignores the female role of the biological imperative to put all of the blame for childbirth on the male. Both stories make use of alien parasites attached to human hosts to allegorically represent the things that enslave us, while there is a blatant absence of acceptance of responsibility.

“Passengers” shows the fallacy in the argument that a person who is intoxicated should not be held accountable for actions committed in a state of drunkenness. When considering the allegory, it is clear that the person being “ridden” by a parasite is not doing so voluntarily. The choice of becoming intoxicated is usually voluntary. This comparison does not satisfactorily represent the experience of intoxication and loss of conscious judgement because the characters in the story are helpless victims to the Passengers. They do not know when a Passenger will ride them, and have no way of preventing it. We are not helpless victims enslaved to alcohol in that we can choose not to consume amounts that will lead to loss of judgement. The Passengers relate more closely to involuntary intoxication such as date rape drugs. When applied to voluntary drinking, the allegory emphasizes the omission: responsibility.
In “Bloodchild” there is a deference of responsibility for childbirth to the male. The parasitic nature of the male role as insinuated by the story removes the female’s choice in the matter, making her a child-rearing slave. But if the male role is being stripped down to the primitive roots of the biological imperative, so too should the female role. Biologically speaking, women will go to the same lengths as men to perpetuate the species, and it is completely inaccurate to compare the mother-child relationship to that of a parasite and host. Butler’s story suggests that females are helplessly entrapped in a male dominated world in which men impregnate them and they must suffer through the labours of childbirth without any choice in the matter. Again, there is an omission of responsibility that prevents the allegory from being relatable. Perhaps this is how Butler and a small percentage of women feel about childbirth, but it ignores the responsibility and freedom of choice that women have in our society.
A parasitic relationship implies that the host is a helpless, involuntary slave to a parasite that enjoys the benefits, but not the consequences, of a shared experience. The extremely painful nature in which the parasite extracts its young from the humans in “Bloodchild” and the chilling societal repercussions of the Passengers’ actions are exaggerations of childbirth and drunkenness, but both omit the elemental of accepting responsibility.

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