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The Babysitter: A Feminist Interpretation

LIU Ke-dong, LI Shuang-shuang
2014 Journal of Literature and Art Studies  
Sexual violence, a prevalent problem in the spousal relationship, is closely related to the issue of female consciousness. In The Babysitter, Coover (1989) tells of a teenage girl babysitting two kids and a baby and of two of her male peers and the children's father altogether exploring their obsession towards her and, moreover, traces the evaluation and devaluation of women to the presentation of TV exploring its influence on his heroines, namely Mrs. Tucker and the babysitter serving as
more » ... er serving as victims of the patriarchal society. Through a close engagement with the sexual objectification theory, this paper analyzes in detail men's aggressive oppressions upon women as well as women's compromise and rebellion towards the sexual violence, and investigates that the awakening of female independent consciousness is a key factor in effectively helping women achieve the gender equality between sexes. Introduction Robert Coover, a representative post-modern writer of "fabulation" and "metafiction" who harbors sincere fondness for weaving visual arts into his written works. When he was teaching at Brown University, Coover started doing experimental writing on electronic fiction, during which time The Babysitter (1989) emerges. The story is divided into 108 segments that are not arranged in chronological order. Generally, it is an account of events taking place in three separate places from 7:40 to 10:00 at night. With everything pointing to uncertainty or indeterminacy to the end of the story, "most of what happened before happens again with new variations" (Evenson, 2003, p. 92). The reader can be certain only that the babysitter arrives at the Tuckers' home, and that the Tuckers leave their home for a party, and Jack and Mark play pinball at a drugstore. The rest of the story amounts to an indefinite number of situations based on these givens. Generally speaking, the meta-fictional story tells of a teenaged girl babysitting two kids and a baby for a couple during one night, and of two of her male peers and the children's father exploring their delusional and realistic obsessions towards her. Within the framework of feminism, which challenges the patriarchal society, struggling for recognition of the claims of women for legal, political, familial, etc. rights equal to those possessed by men, this paper explores the concern of American contemporary life including the lust both in the real and imagined events of the modern man, the self-image of women viewing themselves through the lens of external observers, and the sexual violence repressing the growth of female independent consciousness or the opposite. LIU Ke-dong, Ph.D., professor of English, School of Foreign Languages, Harbin Institute of Technology. LI Shuang-shuang, master degree, School of Foreign Languages, Harbin Institute of Technology.
doi:10.17265/2159-5836/2014.07.004 fatcat:wmw3m7stfffovbbxp6h6i3czgq