I think it’s easy to lose sight of the deal here, which is that as
much as Daniel is capable of love, he’s essentially a cold person who
sees other people as tools. The robot, the daughter. You can love
someone and use them at the same time: Just ask God. But while the
tenor of his speech — the very fact that he’s the only one talking —
might lead you to sympathize, to see Zoë through his eyes, as a spoiled brat, she’s only a brat insofar as she’s not doing what he
wants. And women are always the biggest bitches when they don’t do what
we want, aren’t they?
Which is the reason, always, that we have to hide. It’s easier and
more powerful to be an object when the alternative is hatred. Zoë’s
only power, and she’s said this more than once, is hiding inside her
magnificent new body. Pretending there’s nobody home. And I think probably it’s hard for some
people to understand how that works, because they never got the hang of
it — or never had to — for themselves. If your body, or your
sexuality, have never been commodified, then I think it’s probably
difficult to understand the alternatives, of which you’ve been lucky
enough to remain ignorant.
Which is the story of anyone who’s been abused, physically or otherwise: You think you can make yourself very still, very quiet, and maybe they won’t hit you. Maybe they won’t even notice you to mock you. Maybe you won’t screw up, if you just lay low, and don’t talk, and don’t move. So you make yourself smaller, and hide in plain sight, and try to be something nobody takes any notice of. You try to be Zoe, inside the robot, listening impassively as the person she used to love and admire makes a mockery of everything she ever thought he meant.
Problem is, it never really works to protect you. You always find a way to annoy your abuser. You always knock over a glass of milk at the dinner table. You always say the wrong thing, or the thing that was right five minutes ago, but is horrible now. You always, always, always break the eggshells you walk on. And eventually you realize the walls you built around yourself aren’t keeping the bullies out, they’re just keeping you in.