Gender Criticism based on Feminism and Masculinism in the Book “Skin” Essay
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The book entitled, “Skin” is written by Ted Dekker and is a fiction novel about a killer who took as captives five people who each had stories to tell and had things about their past to confront. They were brought together by such deadly circumstances and despite their individual differences and suspicions drawn against one another, they had to work together somehow against a common enemy, their captor. “Skin” covers issues of feminism and masculinism in the details about how the captured characters – namely, Wendy, Colt, Jerry, Nicole and Carey – were victimized by the killer, Red.
For Wendy, it all started one rainy night when she was driving herself to the place where her estranged mother was. The horror of all that they have gone through, all five of them, turned out to be something none of them was ever prepared for. Thesis The novel “Skin” relates a story that supports the thesis that the gender-defined roles of the characters therein damaged both sides. The story also presented the question of what true beauty is, both masculine and feminine beauty.
Beauty is explored both as an external quality and as something that is more than what meets the eye – in men and in women. It turns out that beauty can be perceived by people as gender-defined. Beauty in men, thus, can be judged by parameters that are supposed to apply to men, and then beauty in women can be judged by altogether different parameters that, in turn, are supposed to apply to women. Feminism in the Story Wendy is an escapist from a cult where men reigned as the superior sex.
In fact, even decisions pertaining to her life – who she was to wed eventually, who she could date and kiss – were made by the acknowledged head of their tribe, a man much older that her who was even supposed to be her future husband. Her mom was in the cult, too. As a member of it, she submitted to such leader and went to wherever the group went, never deciding for herself where and how she wanted to live her life. Through it all, she allowed the cult leader to make decisions that she should have made for herself and her daughter, Wendy.
Wendy has become a prime feminist since her escape from the group whose members made up her world. She then became totally free – free to make choices for herself, free to make decisions concerning herself, her life and her personal interests. She has been equipped with good education and having been a scholar who made it through college by herself – with no help from parents, whose support usually comes in the form of financial resources to enable their children get through college as a way to have much better chances for a bright future.
During her traumatic childhood experiences in the cult where the male leader was practically the ruler of all, Wendy had known what it meant to be eyed or even “reserved” for an older man. In the story, there was the pre-arranged marriage that Wendy had no choice but to succumb to when the time for it would come. For this reason, Wendy was even punished at one time for having kissed a guy. Through it all, Wendy came to have this fear of men. It was the same fear that went in the way of her having a serious relationship with a guy even when she was already a young woman.
Thus, during years since her escape, Wendy had only female friends. Given the life she lived and the role of men in her life, Wendy has grown to be an independent woman who definitely did not need a man to make life easier for her. In contrast, Nicole had her brother, Cary, to adore her, to take care of her and to protect her. She grew up depending on the love and security that her older brother represented. Nicole represents the very image that present day feminists want to totally disassociate from women in general.
She’s a victim of men who, like her brother, have to be needed by the women in their lives as the only way they would feel strong, masculine and happy. In such a trap, the likes of Nicole have been raised to believe that women are weak and are in constant need of the protection and support that only men can provide. For an independent woman like Wendy, it was indeed a novelty to watch Carey carry his younger sister all the way and to see for herself how much Carey loves his younger sister, Nicole. And Nicole, loved him, too. He was her older brother who has always been her source of love and protection.
The same love and protection, though, can serve to curtail Nicole’s potentials as a person – a free thinker, a decision-maker and the master of her fate. Thus, the protective love of men – in this case, Nicole’s older brother – can be likened to a trap that can prevent women from going out into the world, making mistakes and learning in the process, and living their lives to the fullest. Curtailed freedom was one thing Wendy and Nicole had in common, but Wendy had chosen to break out of her prison cell and fly away toward freedom and self-realization.
Men, as oppressors, can clip the wings of the women in their lives either intentionally or not, either lovingly or not – the manner, though, does not change the meaning of what is going on. Masculinism in the Story Colt’s masculinity would seem readily obvious in the light of his being a policeman. His marked skill as a gunman would serve to give his masculinity an added boost. After all, his being an adept shooter can easily be surmised to mean his being a good protector of people under his wings.
As a great gunman, then, Colt has won the respect and admiration of his fellow cops in the police department, both male and female. And also as a great gunman, Colt would seem the kind of man who has little or nothing to fear. No one would guess, therefore, that for all his seemingly apparent masculinity, Colt has fears and has doubts of his capabilities and qualities as a man. In fact, the story says that having a woman around or being with one is enough to break Colt’s cool demeanor and to reduce him into a bundle of nerves. He therefore has neven been close to a woman.
His life has been lived and has revolved pretty much around male friends. The story has mentioned Colt’s mom who has been murdered but was believed to have committed suicide – she might easily have been the only woman in his life. One’s childhood always leaves its imprints on the person. Events during Colt’s childhood have caused him to have insecurities and doubts about himself. These self-doubts leave no sign in the policeman that Colt has become. Such doubts and insecurities have stayed within him but have been buried way under Colt’s demeanor.
In a way, Colt has been victimized by the way ladies ridicule guys they are not interested in, more so when ladies spurn those suitors whom they do not at all find attractive. Being rejected by a girl can have such an adverse impact on a guy’s confidence. Some guys even find it hard to recover their self-esteem after having been rejected by the ladies they loved. While Colt avoided women as characters he was not ready to have in his life, Cary was the type of guy who was instinctively protective of women he loved, like his sister, Nicole.
Cary has grown up believing that the male sex is the stronger sex and that the females are therefore to be taken care of and sheltered. While adhering to this belief, being in helpless situations would kill the likes of Cary in their insistence that they be the protectors of the women they love. Thus, in the story, it tore Cary apart to watch his younger sister in pain and so helpless. It likewise broke his heart that he could not do what had to be done to keep them all safe from harm.
Thus, independent women like Wendy would be a novelty to Colt, whose perception of women would be more of the clinging and needy sort. In the same way, frail and fragile women like Nicole would disarm Colt’s defense and lead him to overcome his fear of women, who in the person of Nicole can seem to be such weak, dependent and powerless creatures in need of somebody like himself. The story is adroitly set with twists that all served to help the characters eventually face their fears and find themselves.
Works Cited Dekker, Ted. Skin. Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2007.