Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Love, Sex, and Power

Love, sexuality, power: what are the relationships between them?

Love is different for all people and especially differs from culture to culture. Sexuality is hard to define. Sexuality is part of who we are as human beings. Yet, in many cases sex is a taboo subject: we are not supposed to talk about it or admit we do it. In many cases sex is thought of as being only for procreation. Power is a need which not all people need or posses, yet sex is something all have the power to engage in, so comes the sex-power relationship. Sex is a very powerful tool, sexuality is how one portrays themselves toward others, lovers in particular.

Love and Sam
Sam’s love was reserved for Lydie. I believe he did not love his wives, which is why he always sent them home. Also, he always chose white women so they would not remind him of Lydie. Sam’s love for Lydie caused him to want to forget her. In forgetting her he could forget the loss of his one love. But his love would be viewed as sick, so he could never really have Lydie all for himself. His love for Lydie even caused him to, at least to believe to, kill the man who raped and killed Lydie. Sam loved power. He was a rich hotel owner who had white wives and could buy anything. He used his power to control situations. Sam’s lack of being loved and being able to love led to his need and love for power.

Power and Sam
Lydie had power when she and Sam had sex. She had to know what it was like. Sam had power in the situation, he did the act. This sexual encounter with the woman he loved left Sam empty. He knew he could never be with Lydie full time, for one she would not want it, second the relationship would never be accepted by society. Sam became to have a strong need for power to substitute his loss of love. His unyielding sex drive came about from his need for power. In his mind his ability to have sex equated with how much power he had. Sam used his power to control his life and his families lives. He thought he could buy anyone, and many times he could. But for all his money and power he could not silence Moani. Moani put a strain on Sam’s power, his power of forgetting the past. Moani’s insistence on finding out about her family caused Sam to crush her dreams of renovating the school for Hawaiian girls. He used his power to hurt her since she was relentless in her pursuit of the past which hurt him.

What can we imagine from this scene of incest is the writer’s purpose? I have done much thinking on this and one thing I come up with is shock value. A good story sells books. But there must have been more reasons behind the author’s purpose for including Sam’s sexual encounter with Lydie. Incest, we found out in class, was not looked down upon for many years. What can this tell us about the scene’s importance? It could be that the writer wanted the reader to think about the incest as a product of Hawaiian culture, but that does not seem to fit. Maybe she wanted us to decipher Sam’s character and his lack of love for Hawaiian women.

The relationship between sex and power is a strong one. For someone to give themselves to someone else there must be a release of power from one to the other. In giving oneself to another one loses power. That is they give the other person power over them by choosing to engage in sex with them. Sex can also be used to gain power over someone, by promises of intercourse one may gain power. The sex-power relationship is different for men and women, and even more different in same-sex couples. For men the power may be a result of getting sex, while for women the power lies in giving sex. In same-sex couples the roles may be different than described above. One thing is sure, there is a dynamic relationship between sex and power. Some give up power to get sex, some give up sex to get power, and then there is always the concept of rape in which no one gives up power, but instead power is taken.

The dynamic love-sex-power triangle is one which gives a reader much to think about. In School for Hawaiian Girls this triangle is full of mystery and complications. There is much mystery around why Sam loves so deeply his sister Lydie. This love leads to many complications in his life, from his inability to love, to his denial of the past.


Jordan said...

This Blog, as well as the discussion we had in class yesterday got me to thinking about the power in sex. In class, sex was labeled as taboo, private, and embarrassing. High society has led us to believe that sex and sexuality go hand in hand with sinning because ultimately, it is but a means to procreate. In contrast, the mass society we all contribute to today feeds off of sex and sexuality; scantily clad women in MTV’s music videos, billboards of women playing poker in Casino’s, and exotic women on travel brochures all contribute to societies dependence of appearance in the media. Because of these contradicting views, it is difficult to decipher the way in which individuals are to handle sexuality.

SamFelsing1 said...

I agree that Sam choose white women because he wanted someone very different from Lydia. However, I think there is also an element of distance to it. White women are not in his culture. If he chooses them, there is already a hump that the relationship has to get over. They have to learn to understand each other. This puts the distance between them, one that is hard to get over. Sam probably does this purposely, that way, he doesn’t come close to loving anyone like he did Lydia. It seems like a logical answer. I believe he only started dating white women after she died. If he tried to date a Hawaiian girl, she would be too similar. The distance wouldn’t be there and he would come too close to falling in love with a woman similar to his sister.
The book also takes a lot of time to discuss the differences between mainland and Hawaiian. Moanni never seems pleased with the mainlanders who go on her Kayak trips. Sarah isn’t portrayed very well, and she is mainlander. There are several incidents of a them and us theme, which backs up the idea that Sam dates white women to distance himself.
There could also be another answer as well. You talk a lot about power. If he dates white women, he has the upper hand in his culture because he knows more about it. Thus, he can feel dominate.