Paper #1- Princess Leia and Molly: Cut from the same cloth

In a world where our dreams become realities, and cars start to fly, and light sabers start to emerge, society often finds itself manipulating and changing stereotypical gender norms. Social media, newscasters, filmmakers, and even political propaganda all contribute to a way society formulates viewpoints pertaining to gender norms. It is not until the 1980s when we see not just literature, but also films start to defy popular adopted gender norms. Leia Organa in Star Wars is not only seen as the Princess of Alderan, but also an amazing shot with a laser, and a strong leader in the resistance against the Empire. Back in the 1980s, a women would not be as easily considered a hero, and for a lack of better words, a bad ass in the eyes of danger. Similarly to Leia in Star Wars, Molly: the main protagonist in Neuromancer, by William Gibson is portrayed defying typically accepted gender norms. Gibson’s book Neuromancer, is a commentary on the effects advancements in technology can have on the transformation of gender norms, and stereotypes.

Molly’s first appearance in Neuromancer personifies her not as ladylike character, but rather rough and edgy. She states that she is “collecting” Case for her employer and that no one wants to “hurt” him implying that if it is necessary she will use brute force to do just that (Gibson 44). Right from the beginning, Molly is depicted as a character atypical to that of a “normal women profile” and Gibson shows that Molly is no average gal. Gibson portraying Molly as something other than ladylike is a comment on the way in which he thinks women could be like in the future, under the enhancement of technology. It is evident that in a time like the 1980s, this idealistic viewpoint of a woman is further from the appearance and actions for a typical women in the time the book was published. As a women protagonist, throughout the novel, Molly is constantly being described with using brute force and physical skills to get the characters through different situations. On one of their many missions together, Case reflected that he “doubted the three security men Molly had encountered in the corridor would live to talk about it” (Gibson 105). It is apparent that the characters acknowledge Molly’s particular skill sets.  Gibson’s characters are reflection of his viewpoint on the way technology will improve humans and their capacity to see apart from gender.

Gibson not only comments on the effects technology will have on gender norms pertaining to women, but he alludes to the fact that technology can affect human’s perception of gender as an entity. The people in Neuromancer are all so self-absorbed and consumed by this cyberspace way of life that leads main male protagonist, Case to view his body nothing more than just “meat” (Gibson 15). Although this passage of the story is mainly commenting on the fact that without his ability to hack his body is useless, another hidden message lies between the lines.  The fact that Case views his body as nothing more than a shelter of some sorts shows his disengagement with himself as a whole. Since gender is a standard or way to identify yourself, Case lacks the necessary mentality to classify himself without the help of cyberspace. This concept of not being able to identify yourself as a gender is often seen in the present day through the plethora of different genders and sexualities that the twenty first century fosters. Currently, it is fascinating to realize that Gibson accurately predicted through his literature that technology could impact gender norms. Through current day social media, it is so easy now to simply spread different ideas throughout a community of people. Neuromancer, as far fetched as its readings can be at times steps figuratively and representatively into the present, and therefore the future.

Going along with the allusion that technology affects human’s perception of gender, body enhancements and the roles they play in Neuromancer compliment Gibson’s viewpoint of atypical gender norms the future may hold. From the very beginning of the story, we are introduced to a plethora of different characters all with different body enhancements that  indirectly contradict stereotypical gender norms. Ratz tends the bar “with his prosthetic arm” (Gibson 11), Molly’s enhanced eyes, the Wintermule/Neuromancer complex, and a handful of other enhancements throughout the book hold many truths to a complex viewpoint of gender roles. Molly’s eyes giver her physical advantages over the men around her, which is contrary to typical gender norms where women are not as physically adept as men. Exploring Molly and her enhancements even further, may prove that Gibson believed that the future for women’s rights and opportunities could be greatly improved with the advent of new technology. However, it should be stated that Molly is also looked as “meat” (Gibson) at points in the novel, and shows that the men in her life only look at women for sex. A gender norm in today’s term is that many men are interested in women for pure sexual purposes, and that is something that it appears Gibson believes will not go away, even with the advancements of technology.

Whether it is Princess Leia fighting the stormtroopers, Molly being a tough, brute warrior, Case’s inability to perceive himself as an entity outside of cyberspace, it is clear Gibson’s ambiguous view of technologies potential societal affects are clear. Utilizing the two main protagonists of the novel, Gibson comments on the one potential future and how gender roles can easily change in the blink of an eye. Technological advancements, and body enhancement modifications may just be the determinant of the transitions that gender norms go through. Neuromancer, although science fiction, portrays a possible outcome technology can have on gender norms.

Works Cited

Gibson, William. Neuromancer. Ace trade ed., e-book, New York, Ace Books, 2000.

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2 thoughts on “Paper #1- Princess Leia and Molly: Cut from the same cloth

  1. I agree with a lot of points you made in your paper. I liked how in your introduction you included the comparison of the roles of women in Star Wars. “Back in the 1980s, a women would not be as easily considered a hero, and for a lack of better words, a bad ass in the eyes of danger.” I specifically really agree with this line. In my own essay I also explained how women are not usually portrayed the way Molly is in Neuromancer. Molly was a very rough and not lady-like character. She did come off as tough and ready to fight anyone. “Gibson portraying Molly as something other than ladylike is a comment on the way in which he thinks women could be like in the future, under the enhancement of technology.” I thought this point you made was very insightful. Gibson shows many interesting ideas of how the world could be in the future. Molly being portrayed as taking on the role of a man could definitely be his perception of how women will be in society in the future. It is true that as societies advance women obtain more and more important roles. You see women as CEO’s and running for President. The playing fields for men and women have been evolving constantly. Hopefully eventually women will have the exact same opportunities and chances as men to have high profile jobs. I think another valid point you brought up were the bodily modifications Molly had done to her body which ass to her ability to perform jobs men usually would perform. Her modifications do give her an advantage over the men around her, allowing her to be a successful samurai. Overall, you had a really thought out essay making great points all throughout. Neuromancer brings up excellent predictions of what our society could be turning into.

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  2. I think you made a good connection between the Star Wars reference and Molly and I agree with a lot of the things you mentioned. I do think Molly defies the gender norms that women are typically seen as weaker beings and what mentioned about Gibson’s vision of women having more power with the use of technology is very interesting. Everything you said about women gaining rights in the future is absolutely valid, though I think in Neuromancer, a lot of power is given to not only women, but anyone with technology. You pointed out later on in your essay that Case sees his body as nothing more than “meat” without technology. Here, Case thinks he’s powerless without his abilities. Molly, on the other hand, seems to have authority with her lenses, as well as other characters in the book who have body modifications on themselves. While I agree that Case viewing his body as “meat” shows a disengagement with his body, I think this also depicts Case’s character going against the gender norm of men being seen as strong and powerful. It is common to believe that it’s the male’s responsibility to be strong, fearless, and far from emotional. Though Case’s emotions aren’t shown too clearly in the novel, it’s seen in the beginning of the book that he doesn’t fall into the “masculine” example that society is so used to seeing. I do agree that Neuromancer conveys a possible future that might hold in the midst of technology constantly changing and becoming more and more advanced, though this future might not arrive as fast as we think. Right now, technology has become a huge part of our every day lives, but Gibson’s vision of the future that’s seen in Neuromancer seems farfetched. I think it can be possible and it can happen, but maybe under different circumstances.

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