Discuss Coetzee's Presentation of Sex and Gender Roles in Disgrace

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English Literature Discuss Coetzee’s presentation of Sex and gender roles in Disgrace. This essay discusses Coetzee’s presentation of sex and gender roles in Disgrace through an analysis of David’s attitudes and actions in relation to sex, his relationships with women and the rape of his daughter. David’s views on sex and gender roles are major themes in the book and are seen entirely from David’s perspective. Although the book is written in the third person it’s David’s thoughts and perspectives that dominate the book. I will explore the contradictions in the way that David behaves towards and views women and his inability to reconcile himself to his daughter’s passive acceptance of her rape. Disgrace is set in the post apartheid period in South Africa, which as well as giving equal rights in respect of race, also introduced equal rights in respect of gender and sexual orientation in law. Violence increased in South Africa during this period and sexual violence was prevalent with young South African women likely to be raped twice in her lifetime. (Classic Notes on Disgrace - 2006). Disgrace illustrates, through David Lurie’s attitudes and actions and the rape of his daughter, that the reality for sex and gender relations was a long way from equality for women in South Africa. In the very first line of Disgrace David refers to sex as a ‘problem that he has solved rather well’. This statement at the very beginning of the book shows that “sex” is going to be a major theme. The referral of ‘solved’ and ‘problem’ suggests he views sex as a function alongside eating, sleeping etc almost as if it’s mechanical and not linked to any kind of emotion. (Coetzee-1999 1:1) He is a 52 year old man who has had two divorces. He cannot sustain a long term relationship, uses prostitutes and has been promiscuous throughout his adult life. He treats and views women as objects

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