“Rose laughed giddily, then exclaimed, ‘There’s a whorehouse in Mason City, did you know that?'” (Smiley, 59).
“‘Rosie, lets eat at Golden Corral and see if we can get a look at what the prostitutes wear to work” (Smiley, 61).
After Rose and Ginny’s visit to the hospital for Rose’s checkup appointment, the two sisters are in good spirits as they discuss ways to celebrate the positive news from Rose’s appointment. Rose’s excitement about the whorehouse indicates an interest in a place where women live much more ‘scandalous’ lives than them. Lives where sex is more explicit. Although she calls it a whorehouse, the word ‘whore’ carrying negative connotations, Rose does not seem entirely turned away from the idea of visiting it. The excitement of the place’s scandalousness piques her interest. She is enticed by the idea of something that she knows is not typically expected of women.
Similarly, when Ginny suggests they eat at a place where they can see how the women dress, she expresses interest in viewing this alternate form of life in which a woman outwardly displays her sexuality. She calls these women prostitutes. Whether they are truly prostitutes or not could indicate either a sense of ignorance of what they really do or a sense of belittling on her behalf. It seems to be sincere interest, yet she still has the option to turn up her chin at this differing, more visibly sexual lifestyle.
Both of the sisters’ curiosity of the women that work in jobs laden with sexuality reveals a deeper interest in their own sexuality. This drew me to review the graphic poem “Belly Dancer” by Diane Wakoski and illustrated by David Heatley. In this poem, the belly dancer is a form of entertainment for the audience. She is expressive and connected to her sexuality. Attending the whorehouse or viewing how the prostitutes dress would be a way of entertainment for Ginny and Rose as well. “Belly Dancer” seems to identify two types of women: women who are comfortable with their sexuality (like the belly dancer) and the women who are not (most women). Despite Ginny and Rose’s interest in going to these places, I suspect they fall into the category of women who are not fully at ease with their sexuality. They would would be the woman illustrated in the audience who keeps herself put together during the belly dancer’s performance.
Despite the fact that Ginny and Rose would most likely be in the audience of “Belly Dancer” rather than on the stage, dancing out their own sexualities, I think their suggestions to visit these places signifies a desire to understand that part of themselves better. This connection allowed me to see how, while Ginny and Rose may seem like they play the roles of typical housewives while their husbands set out to work, they still have parts within them that would like to explore more. Parts that want to explore beyond their sexual and gendered expectations. The thought of other women being so comfortable with these parts of themselves creates wonder within them, and I wonder if these short instances of curiosity will become a trend throughout the novel. Will they continue to ponder what is outside of the gender boundaries set for them, and potentially act upon them? Will they, like the belly dancer, gain and accept the knowledge that their men cannot fully satisfy them, beyond a sexual sense, and take a greater control of their lives?