In every country, city, town and neighborhood in the world, there are stereotypes. We all live in a classified area where you can be regarded as rich, poor or middle class. Within those three types there becomes sub-categories, where ethnicity , gender and sexuality also become a part of the environment. The list goes on and on. In David H. Hwang’s M. Butterfly, the roles of men and women in the Eastern and Western society are extremely limited in that men and women are both expected to act there part.
Being a women in Eastern society, means basically, to do whatever possible to please your man. Song, although we come to find is actually a man, played the part of the perfect women. ” Gallimard: I have a vision. Of, the Orient. That, deep within its almond eyes, there are still women. Women willing to sacrifice themselves for the love of a man. Even a man whose love is completely without worth.”(Act three, scene three, pg.92). Song knew from experience that men of the Western world loved submissive women who would do anything to please the man they were with. Femininity is displayed as weak and passive. In order to find a man, a women had to do anything, even accept the fact that there husbands would find a mistress on the side. It was socially acceptable to be intentionally blind to what your husband was doing. The same also seemed to take place in the Western world as well, although not at such extreme cases.. Helga assumed that Gallimard took up a mistress while living in the Orient.
Masculinity in this novel seems to be, the more women you have in your lifetime, the more you are considered a man. “Gallimard: (To us): Toulon knows! And he approves! I was learning the benefits of being a man. We form our own clubs, sit behind thick doors, smoke-and celebrate the fact that we’re still boys….”(Act two, scene 4, pg. 46). The men in this novel seemed enchanted with the idea of women and the fame they got with friends when it was found out that they were having extra marital affairs. In the Orient and the Western world as well, masculinity wasn’t defined by hard work and a having and striving toward a perfect marriage and family life, it was defined by sex. Sex with other women than your wife. I don’t believe that Gallimard had this point of view before he moved to the Orient. He was to much of a realist to view women this way. He was never the popular one while growing up, and that made him see things in a different light. His friend Marc, on the other hand, saw women simply as toys to be played with , then tossed aside. Especially women who came from the Eastern world. “Marc: …It’s an old story. It’s in our blood. They fear us Rene. Their women fear us. And their men-their men hate us. And, you know something? They are all correct.”(Act one, scene 9, pg. 25) The Eastern men hate Western men because women were so attracted to the Westerners. Women feared them because they knew they would be dumped as soon as the fun was over. Gallimard quickly came to accept and like his new status with the men he knew an befriended. It seems as if the only way for the men of this novel to become respected in society, was with women and sex. This obviously put limitations on men growing emotionally. They were never able to put all there effort into one woman because it just wasn’t considered worthwhile to do so. So, if a man truly loved a woman, it must of been extremely hard to explain to his peers that he didn’t care about other woman. He would of been considered less of a man.
Gallimard fell in love with a man. He forced himself for twenty something years to believe that Song was a woman. He knew deep down inside what was really going on, but never let himself admit it. This was because he thought that Song was such a “perfect woman”, and also because the idea of homosexuality was simply unacceptable. If Gallimard was gay, which is a matter of opinion, the Eastern and Western society at that time would of completely shamed him and that lifestyle. “Chin: Don’t forget: there is no homosexuality in China!”(Act two, Scene five, pg. 48) Being homosexual basically meant not existing in that country at that time. Even during the trial, it seemed incomprehensible that any man would fall in love with another man. Gallimard even refused to believe that he fell in love with a man. “Gallimard: I’m a man who loved a woman created by a man. Everything else-simple falls short.”(Act Three, Scene three pg. 90). It is hard not to say that homosexuality didn’t take place, because in a sense it did, but it simply went unnoticed.
Gallimard and Song both lived lies for twenty years. This was not only because Song wanted to get information, but also because he thought that ‘being Oriental, he could never truly be a man.’ I don’t think that Song thought of himself as the type of man to get married and have women on the side as accepted and expected. So, he simple put all his effort in playing the part of the Oriental woman. In doing so, he never had to worry about not being the typical man. Every character in this play had to deal with the role that they had to play in society depending on there gender. Both the men and women became susceptible to the roles forced upon them, and in the end everyone got hurt.