Study Guide

Kindred Gender

By Octavia Estelle Butler

Gender

"I never thought you'd be fool enough to let a man beat you." (4.2.41)

Dana's cousin is disappointed to think that Dana is protecting an abusive husband by refusing to tell the police about him. Little does she know that Dana has been taking abuse as a slave 150 years in the past. Try explaining that one to the cops.

She also advised me to send the police after Kevin. She assumed my bruises were his work. (4.2.40)

Dana's cousin isn't quite ready to let up on calling the cops on Kevin. She believes that modern women should protect themselves from men by using the law whenever they can. This is a luxury that Dana definitely doesn't have as a woman back in 1815 Maryland.

I had helped [Tess] with the washing several times—had done as much of it as I could myself recently because Weylin had casually begun taking her to bed, and had hurt her. Apparently, she paid her debts. (4.10.91)

Race isn't the only factor when it comes to Tom Weylin's power over his slaves. Gender is just as big of an issue, especially when Tom Weylin takes a fancy to one of his female slaves and starts bringing her to bed. We find out later on that Tom has had several children with black women. But he doesn't acknowledge any of them.

"You damned black b—!" (5.2.61)

Tom Weylin is not a fan of being threatened by Dana. And as we can see from this comment, he's just as annoyed by a woman talking back to him as he is by a black person talking back. With Dana's, the offense is doubly frustrating for him.

I remembered suddenly the way he used to talk to his mother. If he couldn't get what he wanted from her gently, he stopped being gentle. Why not? She always forgave him. (5.6.85)

In this passage, Dana outlines how Margaret Weylin's spoiling behavior toward Rufus is part of what makes him grow up to be so horrible to women. His mother has taught him that a woman will give him whatever he wants and forgive him immediately when he's cruel to them.

"What you think your wants got to do with it?" (5.10.14)

Alice is quick to remind Dana that her personal desires have nothing to do with whether Rufus gets to take her to bed. That's the toughest part about being a slave and a woman at the same time.

"Some of his neighbors found out what I was doing and offered him fatherly advice." (5.13.5)

Butler's use of the word "fatherly" in this sentence is striking because it shows how deeply Rufus' sense of masculinity is connected to his power over his slaves. Rufus only thinks of himself as a man insofar as he can control his slaves.

"You mean you could forgive me for having been raped?" (6.2.44)

Dana can't believe it when Kevin tells her he could forgive her if she were raped in the past. Comments like this help reveal that, even though he's a nice guy, Kevin doesn't fully understand the concept of a woman's right to control her own life. Basically, it's not his right to forgive or not forgive her for being raped.

He had spent his life watching his father ignore, even sell the children he had had with black women. (5.11.26)

It's no wonder Rufus doesn't respect black women. He's spent his entire life watching a father who has children with black women and sells them off for a profit as though they were investments instead of people.