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Elliot and Yumi vs. Yumi and Lloyd

Porkchop's picture

And Daddy would chuckle. Pat your cheek. He was always as shy with his love as you were ferocious with yours, but even if its expression was tentative, the fact of his love was absolute. Then. So what the fuck happened? It wasn’t your fault! you wanted to cry. It was just life, filtering into your prattle at the supper table, that so offended him, and how were you to know? You’d always shared what you’d learned in school, playing teacher even then, telling him all about the Pilgrims, for example, or how the telegraph was invented, or the names for the parts of a flower. “Pistil, stamen, stigma . . .” He’d frown with concentration, repeating the names after you, slowly, as though he’d never heard them before. “And what does a stamen do?” he’d prompt, pretending to be confused. And you would proudly teach, “A stamen does this and such,” and he would nod and smile at you and say, “My, my, my!” like he just couldn’t believe how one little daughter— and his, at that— could be so bright. His love for you was absolute, all right. Until you changed the subject.

Ozeki, Ruth (2004-03-30). All Over Creation (pp. 19-20). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

This passage shows the clash between Yumi and her father, the relationship she has with him when it comes to her schooling and education.  She would play teacher and tell Lloyd all about the things she was learning in school.  This relationship compares to the one that follows between Elliot and Yumi.  The way that Yumi respects Elliot as a teacher, and the way she lets him teach her, mirrors the relationship she had with her father and the love he felt for her through their school-related conversations. It's disturbing to compare the two, because Elliot is a grown man having a relationship with Yumi, and there is a similarity between the relationship Yumi has with Elliot and the one she had with Lloyd as a very young child. The way that Lloyd used to look at Yumi when she was very small is almost the same way that Elliot looks at Yumi as his sexual partner.


He laughed. “You’re fantastic. This is what’s so great about you. You’re very mature for your age.” He reached for your hands again. “Yumi, Yumi, Yumi. . . . Life can be complex, but you understand that.” He played with your fingertips. “I’m glad we can talk about this stuff. It’s so important to stay open.” He lay back on the pillow, pulling you toward him. “Don’t ever change, lady,” he sang. Your heart swelled. You couldn’t help it. “Mmmm,” he whispered, nibbling your neck. “You’ll always be yummy to me.”

Ozeki, Ruth (2004-03-30). All Over Creation (pp. 27-28). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

This passage bothered me because Elliot interpreted Yumi's confidence to correct him as "cute". He sexualized her ability to be a strong woman who was willing to stand up to a man when he doesn't bother to pronounce her name right. Then, on top of that, Elliot sexualized her and her name saying that she'll "always be yummy to him", going against what she had just said, telling him not to call her "Yummy". He decided to make a sexual joke out of her name right after she told him not to. This is frustrating because he goes on to talk about how mature she is, and then treats her like a child without any respect for her wants and for what offends her. When he says she'll always be yummy to him, he is implying that he'll never respect her desire to be called the right name, and he also implies that he will always call her what he wants to call her, and that he'll always be sexually attracted to her.  I don't like that Elliot uses blatant sexual humor/flirtation to connote disrespect for the woman he just had sex with.