The Perfect Woman

“Only a man knows how a woman is supposed to act,” states Song (49).  Throughout the entirety of M. Butterfly, Gallimard creates the perfect woman in his mind.  While Song helps perpetuate his notion of this woman as timid, and submissive, in reality the other women that Gallimard encounters and has relations with are anything but his ideal image.  Thus, when Song helps him to create the perfect woman he falls in love with the idea of her.  Since his first sexual encounter Gallimard was unsatisfied with the experience and the woman whom he shared it with.  Marc tells him “She loved the superior position.  A girl ahead of her time.” (29).  Here we see Marc serving as a an additional personality within Gallimard.  While he is his own person, Gallimard uses him often to explain and express himself in a different way.  Marc goes on to ask Gallimard about his experience and while he states that he enjoyed it, it is clear that the he was not completely satisfied.  In fact he explains how he was scared throughout the entire time.  In his first experience we see the woman Gallimard had sex with took the dominant position.  The dominant is of course always associated with the man and thus the fact that she took the dominant position made her less attractive to Gallimard because she was not “feminine” enough.  We see this conflict again when he has an extra extramarital affair with Renee.  “Renee was picture perfect.  With a body like those girls in magazines.  If I put a tissue paper over my eyes, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.  And it was exciting to be with someone who wasn’t afraid to be seen completely naked.  But is it possible for a woman to be too uninhibited, too willing, so as to seem almost too…masculine?” Gallimard ponders (43).  Here, although he is having this affair without Song’s knowledge and is cheating on her as well as on his wife, he is not as happy with this circumstance as he is with Song.  Song, unlike Renee, fits the image of his ideal woman more.  As such, even tough Renee is beautiful he is not as content because she is not as submissive, not as timid, and thus not as “feminine”.  Gallimard is in a way aware of his need to create the perfect woman and thus allows himself to be blinded by his desire to the point that he does not accept reality.  “Did I not undress her because I knew, somewhere deep down, what I would find?  Perhaps.  Happiness is so rare that our mind can turn somersaults to protect it” (47).  It is clear that Gallimard has a need to create the perfect woman.  Song simply provides him with the materials he needs to do so.  She is what he wants her to be.  Although she of course carries with her, her identity and her ethnicity, it is an identity and culture that aligns with Gallimard’s view of the perfect woman.  Song also knows that this is Gallimard’s fantasy and so she acts and behaves like a woman is supposed to, like only a man would know a woman is supposed to.  That is why Gallimard is unhappy with his other encounters.  None of these real women know how they are supposed to be, because they simply are without thought as to what would make them more feminine.

Vitruvian Woman 640px


-Basil Hallward


1 Comment

Filed under Week 8: Taiwanese queer fiction; M. Butterfly

One response to “The Perfect Woman

  1. I enjoyed your commentary on how Gallimard searches for a “perfect woman”, modeling them after his own ideals. Who is this perfect woman but an assembly of his thoughts, ideals, and perhaps stereotypes? It reminds me a little of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s response to audiences who had seen (500) Days of Summer as a love story, rather than a story about “love”: “[Tom] develops a mildly delusional obsession over a girl onto whom he projects all these fantasies. He thinks she’ll give his life meaning because he doesn’t care about much else going on in his life. A lot of boys and girls think their lives will have meaning if they find a partner who wants nothing else in life but them. That’s not healthy. That’s falling in love with the idea of a person, not the actual person.”
    – HSK

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