As people begin to pick up and learn habits, certain things become normalized. Perhaps saying “I’m okay” when a person isn’t feeling that great, or asking “How is the weather?” when there is nothing else to say. These sort of reactions become normalized. But what if a taboo, or something morally wrong, became normalized? In Utopia by Ahmed Khaled Towfik, the author tackles some pretty heavy ideas, and in a strange dystopian way, treats these heavy subjects as if they were the most basic of ideas.
In the novel, there exists two places that the narrators showcase the reader to. Utopia, and the Other. And although one might think, violence should show only in the Other, they actually occur in both, but the extreme is more often seen in the Other. Due to extreme poverty, people in the Other have become incredibly dehumanized, and sent into a living based off of drugs, violence, and sex. This is seen commonly throughout the novel as many women are seen as prostitutes, and although prostitution can be argued as dehumanizing in itself, it gets worse. At one point in the novel, one of the characters is speaking to a prostitute and she states as if it was common knowledge that “all men don’t get their full pleasure without hitting a woman,” heavily insinuating that abuse and violence to women is commonplace (106).
Not only is abuse a horrible thing, but it can be seen as even worse if it becomes as easy or as commonplace as breathing. One of the main characters in the story who is arguable the ‘good character,’ is tempted to rape a sleeping woman, and her sister who looks up to him and praises him says that he “deserves to enjoy [himself and] to take [his] time” with her, feeling “touched on [his] account, with moist eyes, her behavior akin to a mother’s affection.”(115) Not only was her sister okay with her brother raping a sleeping woman, but she felt that he deserved the moment, as if it his reward for his hard work.
Although we as human beings think this may never come to be, certain actions and ideals can slowly turn numb. Moral compasses can gradually fade away, and the extreme circumstance of numbing of the soul is represented in Utopia. Now more than ever, is it crucial to take a minute, and think about your actions, and what is considered “normal” before something like this could begin to take root.