M. Butterfly

David Hwang

The first paragraph is as “Butterfly,” the “woman” who seduced Rene Gallimard, the French diplomat, a male. The second is as Song, the man, explaining to the court why is was so easy to decieve Gallimard.

“Am I your Butterfly? Yes, yes I am your Butterfly. I am your treasure. Though inexperienced, I am not…ignorant. They teach us things, our mothers, about pleasing a man. I’ll do my best to make you happy. Turn off the lights….”
You ask how did he not know I was a man? He knew I needed the documents, and that was enough. And he never saw me completely naked. It is too simple. It was my job to make him think I was a woman. And chew on this: it wasn’t all that hard. See, my mother was a prostitute along the Bundt before the Revolution.  And, uh, I think it’s fair to say she learned a few things about Western men.  So, I borrowed her knowledge. In service to my country.  Would you like me to enlighten the court with this secret knowledge?  I’m sure you are all very curious.  Rule One:  Men always believe what they want to hear.  So a girl can tell the most obnoxious lies and the guys will believe them every time—“This is my first time”—“That’s the biggest I’ve ever seen”—or both, which, if you really think about it t, is not possible in a single lifetime.  You’ve maybe heard those phrases a few times in your own life, yes, Your Honor?  (sly smile)  Sorry, just trying to lighten up the proceedings.  Okay, Rule Two:   As a western man comes into contact with the East–he’s already confused. The West has sort of an international rape mentality towards the East. Do you know rape mentality. Basically it’s “Her mouth says no, but her eyes say yes.” The West thinks of itself as masculine–big guns, big industry, big money–so the East is feminine–weak, delicate, poor…but good at art, and full of inscrutable wisdom–the feminine mystique. Her mouth says no, but her eyes say yes. The West believes the East, deep down, wants to be dominated–because a woman can’t think for herself. You expect Oriental countries to submit to your guns, and you expect Oriental women to be submissive to your men. That’s why you say they make the best wives. When Monsieur Gallimard finally met his fantasy woman, he wanted more than anything to believe that she was, in fact, a woman., And second, I am an Oriental. And being an Oriental, I could never be completely a man. That’s why you’ll lose in all your dealings with the East.

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