I am going to have to agree with Roger here. I also found it tedious and trivial that all we focused on was race. We were talking about a book that focused on the suspension of reality, thus nothing was what it should be. For instance, there were centaurs. Need I say any more?
Going through some parts of the book again, it only cements this idea that there is indeed no racism present in this book, although I can see why some of the students felt there was. The “Coast of Africa” chapter did use some stereotypes on indigenous peoples of Africa, but like I stated previously in class, these kinds of stereotypes were present for many groups and such in the novel. This is apparent with the Acrobats of Desire who all gymnasts. Now, these male gymnasts all rape Desiderio…so does this mean that Carter is stereotyping all gymnasts as gay and that all gay men would rape a straight men in a heartbeat? I’m pretty sure that is not the angle she is going for here. Once again, the angle here is the suspension of belief.
Now, if we were going for the stereotype angle towards females…well, that one is just easy. Look at Albertina, her name can be rearranged to spell “Trainable.” Coincidence, I think not. Albertina is literally a puppet for her father and sees things the way her father does. Furthermore, the female centaurs are basically alive just to be degraded. That is their whole reason for existence. Is Carter being a misogynistic writer? I don’t think so – she is just suspending the reality in the novel and allowing us to see a twisted world where everything is distorted and topsy-turvy.
On a final note, to just reinforce the idea of what Roger calls the “Unreality,” look at how sex is viewed: a lustful way of releasing one’s desires and sexual angst. Not once is it viewed as a beautiful thing, except when Desiderio is about to make love to Albertina, but that never comes to fruition because of the search party looking for Desiderio. Most would think of sex as a way to show their love for another, but in the novel, it is used as a forceful way to show dominance, power, and/or lust over someone (as in the cases with the Count and LeFleur, the Acrobats and Desiderio, Desiderio and Mary Anne, and the machines, just to name a few). Sex is distorted as a lustful and meaningless tangible object that has no emotional attachment to it at all.
So lady and gentlemen, this is why Carter is NOT a racist and is only perpetuating the “Unreality” and distorted world of that in "The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman."