In M. Butterfly, David Henry Hwang explores power and prejudice of nationality, culture, race, gender, and sex. He never tries to create a hierarchy, order, or separation of these issues: they are constantly interweaving. The West perceives Asian culture as feminine, thus perceives Asian nations as feminine and able to be (even desiring to be) dominated. The West considers Asian men inferior because they are feminine. Asian women are considered submissive because they are women, and because they are Asian. Rene’s sexual “conquest” makes him seem a man of knowledge and power for political “conquest.” Constantly Hwang inverts these prejudices and reverses the power dynamic, but he never separates them.
There is interconnectedness of all things. In our nation, we can’t separate the problems of poverty from the problems of race, we can’t prioritize eliminating sexism over eliminating racism or vice versa, and we can’t separate the nature of power from money, gender, or race.
And I do not make the heavy moral separation between types of violence. I see relationships between terrorism and war, between individual violent acts and terrorism, between war and individual violent acts.
And I don’t see the murders at Virginia Tech as entirely separate from any of these. We must always abhor violence. We should work to eliminate war in any way, in the same way we should work to eliminate domestic violence in any way. We should work to eliminate terrorism and crime and state-sponsored torture and all of it. I do not separate vegetarianism entirely from pacifism: our violence against animals may be tied into our violence against people.
The shootings at Va Tech should rightly fill us with sadness and horror. So too should all violence fill us with horror.