Social Darwinism Reflected in Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde

Sociolgy

Stevensons theme of good versus evil reflects the belief system of the Victorian period, where nature versus nurture forms a frequent argument. This brings into question whether people are innately good or bad. Mr.Hyde is obviously bad but Dr.Jekyll isn’t all good. It is also a direct reflection of the role that social Darwinism played during this time. According to Miriam Webster dictionary social Darwinism is described as:

“A sociological theory that sociological advance is the product of intergroup conflict and competition and the socially elite classes possess biological superiority in the struggle for existence”

The theory applies biological concepts of natural selection and survival of the fittest to sociology and politics of this time. Stevenson uses duality to represent these themes, using Jekyll as the facade of man and Hyde as the primitive core of man. Social Darwinism separates the two sides when they are in fact one being, a primitive being constantly suppressed by the facade of society.

In a true representation of good versus evil Mr.Hyde would be entirely evil and Dr.Jekyll would be pure and good. This is not the case; Dr.Jekyll still continues to struggle with some of his less than favorable attributes. While Mr.Hyde is a representation of what man would be without the limitations Of society and self awareness. Mr.Hyde has no fear of public perception, which is what makes him inherently bad. For example when he stomps the little girl in the square in plain site (1679 nortons anthology). Dr.Jekyll struggles with substance abuse and a sex addiction both of which he attempts to hide. It’s ironic that MR.Hyde would have a second home in SoHo where prostitutes frequently roamed, and gin ran rampant. He goes further into detail about his indescretions during his full statement.

The concept of social Darwinism is directly demonstrated with the description of Mr.Hyde and his obviously ethnic features which are equated to to ape like features. As well as during their visit to Mr.Hydes second home which is located on a more diverse side of town where exotic women lay slumped over on stoops or walking the streets. Anglo Europeans or WASP (white Anglo Saxon Protestant) is used to depict the standard of beauty as well as the moral compass here. Mr.Hyde’s barbaric behavior is justified by his ethnicity and it is assumed that he doesn’t know any better. His entire description is very barbaric and archaic, his home is even described as cave like. He is also cruel and murderous with no regards to consequences. Celt’s and negroes were during this time period were viewed as closer to ape like and less like man, therefore they had no understanding of morals or societal expectations. Even in illustrations they are depicted with stronger jaw lines and hunched shoulders much like the description given of Mr.Hyde. This could be the reason that his deformity could not be pinpointed initially (1864 nortons anthology). Mr.Hydes small stature could also be a repress golf Dr.Jekylls suppression of his animal instincts.


Hyde’s primal desires seem to control his entire being: he is easily succumbed to violent behavior without being provoked. This is demonstrated when he tramples the young girl and later murders the old man. He felt no sense of restraint or remorse for either incident. Not only does he take part in violence but he evokes and inspires it in other people. Simply looking at him inspired people to take part in heinous crimes as well. For example after he tramples the little girl, Mr.Einfield mentions he feels an urge to kill him when he stops him after the heinous crime.

“Every time he looked at my prisoner, I saw Sawbones turn sick and white with the urge to kill him”

Not only did he inspire murder in Mr.Einfield but in the hearts of other bystanders as well.

During this day and age it seems ridiculous to believe someone’s intelligence level or moral obligations could be determined by their ethnicity. During the Victoria period the theory of social Darwinism was very popular, even comforting during a period of rapid change. Stevenson tears apart the stereotype of morality during this time by revealing that we are not all entirely good or bad, essentially we are a reduced version of our primitive selves. We are primitive at the core but are taught to suppress animalistic urges to conform to societal norms. Stevenson essential creates a mockery of the social infrastructure developed during the Victorian time period. Victorian society is perceived as very conservative when in reality they were quite perverse. Both prostitution and addiction ran rampant, they were not quite as conservative as they would have liked us to believe which is why Stevenson uses this novel to expose them as the hypocrites they are.

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An ode to Friday the 13th

Sociolgy

On Friday the 13th I found myself watching a Freddy Friday marathon… This is by far my favorite series of slasher films and for the longest time I couldn’t figure out why. Maybe because I frequently had nightmares as a child, and go through periods where I have them for weeks at a time or maybe simply because Freddy brought personality to an era of silent slashers. Now that I’m a little older I realize Wes Craven sheds light on the darker sides of society, the side that really scares people because it’s true, real, and gritty. Let’s face it, Freddy is in fact a child molestor and killer. The town parents take upon themselves to punish him and silence the dark nasty secret of elm street. He seeks his revenge in the dreams of children who long suppressed These horrible memories. Children that he essentially groomed, gross right? This is actually inspired by the mcmartin case in the 1980’s where dozens of children were coerced into saying they had been molested and tortured. 

But the movie in this series that stood out the most was number 3, the Dream warriors which took place in a mental institution. It was a failing one, let’s start with that. It’s obviously understaffed for one, we see very few on duty as teenagers die one by one in very gruesome obvious deaths. One patient sleep walks past a nurse and plummets to his death from a tower window. The mental health facility was in fact inspired by facilities meant to fix your troubled teens in the 1980’s. They were essentially prisons and asylums.

This is where I also noticed Freddy’s trend for preying on disadvantaged youth. Another real world problem. Every movie he escalates and adjust. Choosing victims that would be ignored, such as this film where they assume these kids are just crazy. He progresses to kids that come from truly problematic homes and preys on their most intimate nightmares. He does what real predators do preys on those with little to no support system, this particular film features an addict, a mute, and a wheelchair bound boy. 

But their nightmares don’t stop when they’re sleeping, the nightmares are simply a reflection of real life. Freddy is adamant about holding this against them. Taryn the resident recovering addict receives sexual advances from a hospital employee, who offers her a trip to the pharmacy in exchange for her services. After turning him down and threatening to expose him, he tells her no one would believe her anyway. Freddy exploits this in her nightmare and kills her with an extremely sexual overdose.

Freddy doesn’t just haunt you in your dreams, he preys on your real life terrors and insecurities. They made Freddy the true predator, targeting and preying on the disadvantaged youth and knowing that no one would believe them. This is the true nightmare, Freddy is real and roaming the streets. He’s present anywhere children can be taken advantage of.

That, is the true terror.

(True) first wave feminism

Sociolgy

Although most modern day feminist credit the 1920’s and the suffragists as the original first wave feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft can be credited as the original founding mother of feminism. The vindications of the rights of women essentially lays the foundation of what feminism would ultimately become. This was in 1794! More than a century later! Wollstonecraft lays down yhe fundamental rights that all women deserve such as free education, equal job opportunities, equal representation, as well as encouraging the ambitions of women. Her ideals are obviously still relevant in this day and age, many we currently benefit due to the leaps and bounds we have made as far as progression. Yet we still remain stunted by patriarchy. The most relevant issues were free public education, slut shaming, and grooming of gender roles.

Wollstonecraf’s primary concern is the education of women and how it ultimately affects the lives and wellbeing of women. She briefly mentions our inferiority in terms of body stature and strength, but deterring education further oppresses women. Without proper education it’s impossible for women to even provide proper care to their children. The education of children begins at home, typically with the primary caregiver(their mother). A family with two educated and equally yoked parents is more likely to be well balanced and adjusted. Wollstonecraft proposed that boys and girls be educated together and receive the same education, for free. 

In an era where men and women were both constrained by strict gender roles and expectations, being a sexual being was not one of the limited roles that women held. It was considered sexual deviance for women to enjoy and look forward to sex with their husbands, sex was meant reproduction alone and that’s it. Men were excused from their sexual indescretions, it was almost expected of them. Men had desires that needed to fulfilled whether it was with their wife or not. Women only had worth if they maintained their virginity and chastity. Premarital sex diminished their value and worth. Women were shamed while men were congratulated much like slut shaming today. This is obviously a very relevant double standard.

Unfortunately patriarchy will continue to play a role in the upbringing of our children because we groom them to adhere to specific gender roles. These gender roles were established so long ago that they are addressed in the text!  We are sabotaging our children we are encouraging a vicious cycle which does nothing for women and their progression. Little girls are taught to be oblivious and adorable while little boys are ambitious and knowledge seeking. This ultimately makes them incompatible and creates a power struggle in households.

Wollstonecraft is obviously very relevant today; all the topics she touched on are highly debatable in this day and age. With all the progression we are still fighting for equality in classrooms, in the home, and the work place. Unhealthy gender roles further enforce patriarchy and continue the cycle of unhealthy relationships. We teach our children these double standards and reinforce the slut shaming, instead of derailing the cycle.these cycles further stunt the progression of women. As much credit as we would like the give the suffragettes of the 20’s, their work was paved by Wollstonecraft.

Sexism and Satire

Sociolgy

“Sexism and Satire”
After reading the article and conducting my own very thorough research I found myself very conflicted. All the titles I hold found themselves relating to every person in the article. I’m a parent providing for a child, a woman in a male dominating work force, a professional, and a feminist. How would I be able to take a side when essentially I could relate to everyone? Upon a little more research I realized I had more In common with Adria Richards than I realized. Adria Richards is an outspoken black women who has probably dealt with more sexism and rascism than we know. Maybe, just maybe this was simply the straw that broke the camels back.
In the article Adria Richards attends a tech conference where she is seated in front of two males who are making sexist jokes about the hardware being presented. She becomes very uncomfortable and instead of confronting them she turns around and snaps a picture on her cell phone and immediately post it along with the following statement “jokes about forking repo’s in a sexual way and big dongles are not cool”. It didn’t take long for her to get a response on the matter from an organizer for the conference who saw the tweet and pulled the men aside to discuss it, when they both admitted that the jokes were in poor taste and apologized. But the attention didn’t stop there; the tweet gained so much attention that it caused one of two men to lose their job as well as Adria Richards. So was her act of courage in vain?
As I read the article over and over again, I began to change my view on her lack of professionalism, when in fact she was using her techonological expertise as an outlet. Twitter was simply a platform for the point she was trying to make and what she essentially stood for. She knew the attention she would draw and she knew if she was going to make a change in her field of work she was going to have to expose the sexist of underbelly of it all.
Although initially It was hard to see the intent of the tweet past the lack of professionalism even after reading her blog and noting how calculating she had been. In her mind she was confronting them but in the mind of outsiders, all it would have taken was simply turning around and speaking on it. Maybe even if she had felt so compelled to make a difference or uncomfortable at the thought of speaking to them she could have spoken to HR about the incident. The conference made such an effort to diversify and make everyone comfortable, that I have no doubt that they would have acted immediately. As a woman in the military I have heard some disgusting and disturbing remarks from my male counterparts and I make an effort to assert myself by letting them know when something is inappropriate and if that doesn’t work there are always the resources to handle such a situation. The end result doesn’t always have to be a loss of job for either party, because most people don’t even realize they are being offensive until they are called out on it.
As a professional I always try to look for the correct outlet to handle a situation, in this situation there were several steps she could have taken in order to avoid the certain backlash that the tweet itself would cause. She could have spoken to an equal opportunity representative or HR about the sexist comments, or simply confronted them herself. Tweeting during a conference where everyone in the room is obviously connected to social media is completely inappropriate which is what led to the fast spreading responses that I’m sure she received. Using social media, as a platform to speak negatively about your company or a fellow employee is fireable offense for many companies, which is why I wasn’t surprised to hear that she had been fired as well.
As a parent, a single parent at that, I know how expensive children are and how difficult it is to care for them when you don’t have sufficient funds. Which is now the case for one of the two men involved in the inappropriate joking. Approaching them and having a mature conversation about the content of your conversations and the audience which surrounds you could have ended the situation immediately without the termination of a family breadwinner. I found it easy to sympathize with him on that front, but this was the only area in which I found any sympathy at all for the inconsiderate pair.
I began to read some of the negative responses and more extreme responses to her actions my feminist fire burned brighter and brighter. I was disgusted by what I read, and more disgusted by my fellow women than the men who posted there empty threats. How can you tell another woman to sit idly by in male dominated conference and pretend she doesn’t hear ill-made jokes that are making her feel uncomfortably? Then blaming her for the difficulty that you suffer in your work place because of other “overly sensitive women”. She’s making an effort pave the way for women to be comfortable in the work place, as well as to feel comfortable reporting this type of behavior. We never made any progress as woman by victim shaming. Most of all I’m disgusted by the author of this article who catered to her “professional white male” dominated audience by blatantly displaying sarcasm and the underlying theme that she also found Richards to be too sensitive for the field of work she‘s in. When did we decide as women to tear each other down for men instead of standing together and protecting each other in male dominated world?
I found myself conflicted throughout the entire article trying to choose a side and a way of thinking. Then I remembered being a feminist means having a right to choose and make an educated decision no matter how it may look. I could relate more to Adria Richards than the privileged white males that this article catered to. The article wasn’t exposing sexism but questioning whether its really relevant in the work place or if even exist at all. As a black woman I know that its very relevant and very alive. Adria Richards was only guilty of speaking her mind and in a field where she is already a minority based on her sex, she shrinks into a smaller demographic based on her race. Her abrasive attitude and lack of tolerance for this behaviour may be new to this particular field of work and they have no idea how to handle it. Black womem are oppressed in every area of life and Im sure she refuses to take it any longer. As a professional in her field she knew exactly what she had staged the platform for.

Works Cited Page
1. Hill, Kashmir. “‘Sexism’ Public-Shaming Via Twitter Leads To Two People Getting Fired (Including The Shamer).” Forbes.com. 21 Mar. 2013. Web.
2. Richards, Adria. “But You’re A Girl.” But Youre A Girl. 18 Mar. 2013. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.
3. “When Sex and Porn Are On-topic at Conferences: Keeping It Women-friendly.” Geek Feminism Blog. 1 Sept. 2012. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.