Does anyone truly have autonomy?

I, too, like Sandra, was struck by Katie’s post. It got me to thinking whether any of us are really truly autonomous. I would have to say no.

I consider myself to be very self sufficient–I pay for college by myself, I pay rent out of my own pocket every month, I pay for groceries without help from my family, and I even sometimes treat myself to a few new articles of clothing (not without justifying it first: “I’m entering the working world soon! I need nice clothes!”) or a concert ticket. However, I am also bound to this system of autonomy–doesn’t that make me immediately not autonomous? I am not free to do whatever I want with my belongings, or money, or life, really. I am bound to the system. I need to do well in school, because if I don’t, I will have wasted the money I worked so hard to get so that I could attend college. Still, not everyone is this lucky.

I can’t imagine being in the position of the ooloi–the necessity of being with humans. Or the mutual reliance of Shori and Wright in Fledgling on one another. Having to depend on myself is bad enough sometimes (Should I buy that Venti double shot espresso latte for $6+ when I have rent to pay in a week?)–imagine having to rely on another species just so that your species can survive.

Additionally, I consider a few weeks ago when I brought my 2 golden retrievers to get their pictures taken for a Christmas gift for my parents. I picked them up after my stepmom went to work, but before my dad woke up to go to his work. I left quickly so I could get my puppies back before my dad woke up, as to avoid questioning. My one dog, although typically very sassy when he has a camera in front of his face (especially if there are treats involved), was particularly horrible for this photographer that I spent a lot of money on to get these pictures. I will say–his pictures did not turn out well. On the way home, I mentioned to my significant other, “I wonder why Norman was so bad? He’s normally the good dog.” I realized about 5 minutes later that (since I’m not home all the time anymore) I forgot to feed my dogs their breakfast. He was mad because this strange woman was dangling a treat AND a camera in front of his face, just so I can give this super ridiculous, yet equally adorable gift to my parents. I have reflected since then, how unfair it is that these perfect creatures rely on us, yet sometimes we’re so wrapped up in our own gains to notice their own needs. Although this obviously doesn’t happen often and I love my puppies more than anything, I felt really bad. And almost a month later, I still think about how bad I feel that he was being teased with his own sustenance in front of his face for 45 minutes.

I cannot image what it would be like to have this reliance on another individual like so many of Butler’s characters do. To not have someone care about your immediate needs. Or to not have someone care about your ability (or lack there of) to consent to something.

One comment

  1. Hi Devin! First, I want to tell you how much I respect that you’re supporting yourself through college. I know you did not include that detail in your post seeking praise, but it really is something to be proud of. Also, I love that you included the story about your golden retrievers! Not only did I enjoy this little anecdote because of the puppies (especially since Goldens are the best dogs… I have one too!), but I also really enjoyed this story because you’ve connected it so well with the idea of relying on another being to have basic needs fulfilled, as some of the characters we’ve read about have had to do. I love when things that happen in everyday life relate back to what I’m studying and vice-versa; it makes me feel like I’m learning about something that is actually important. I know we’re both on the path to becoming teachers, and I hope we are both able to incorporate such relevant material into our future instruction so our students can have these same kinds of epiphanies connecting their pets with their English class! Haha đŸ™‚
    Also, I want to thank you for reading my blog post and building off it. I do appreciate it!
    –Katie

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