…as in wake of, or wake up.

so i’ve finished the handmaid’s tale and i thought it was artfully written, well executed, and frankly chilling. i also found the reviews of this book on Amazon interesting – there are a few that were like “It was not disturbing because it was so laughable and unrealistic” and “George Orwell’s 1984 was written much earlier than this book and yet still surpasses it in foresight, complexity, and language” – most of the more negative reviews are written by reviewers with male names, and just don’t get the gender thing. frankly that’s ususally my issue with science fiction – if gender roles are still that defined well into the future, i may as well give up now. this book is interesting solely because it deals with gender issues and the role of women in society and ask the women of Iran and Afghanistan if rights can be repealed once they are bestowed…duh.

in light of this i find the article, Virginity or Death written by Katha Pollitt in the Nation telling. here’s an excerpt from the short article:

…both Merck and GlaxoSmithKline recently announced that they have conducted successful trials of vaccines that protect against the human papilloma virus. HPV is not only an incredibly widespread sexually transmitted infection but is responsible for at least 70 percent of cases of cervical cancer, which is diagnosed in 10,000 American women a year and kills 4,000. Wonderful, you are probably thinking, all we need to do is vaccinate girls (and boys too for good measure) before they become sexually active, around puberty, and HPV–and, in thirty or forty years, seven in ten cases of cervical cancer–goes poof. Not so fast: We’re living in God’s country now. The Christian right doesn’t like the sound of this vaccine at all. “Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful,” Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council told the British magazine New Scientist, “because they may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex.”

the christian right is a well oiled media machine. their spin is incredible and most importantly – it’s working. getting this vaccine in the hands of doctors is going to be a battle should never ever happen and that’s going to take time from other issues like keeping abortion safe and legal. apparently my health, your health, your mom’s, your girlfriend’s, your wife’s, your daughter’s health isn’t nearly so important as controlling her actions.

  1. re: “license to premarital sex”– maybe i’m stating the obvious here: but doesn’t it seem like any (and i do mean ANY) reference to sex seems to send chills up the Christian spine? in any context? health or otherwise?

  2. bill said:

    One of the best science fiction books I’ve read was “China Mountain Zhang” by Maureen McHugh. It has a refreshinging realistic potrayal of sex and sexuality, which means it got a little grim, but I though it was great for not imaging a completely testosterone-driven future.

    P.S.: http://www.billville.org/bookblog/ :)

  3. sarah said:

    rob – yes.

    bill – i’ll have to check that out. but i don’t think realistic portrayals of sex really need to be more grim than sexual encounters are…

  4. bill said:

    That’s true. Some of the activity in the book is violent, which isn’t always the case in the world, and shouldn’t be oversold as essential realism, like you say, but it was the only time I’d encountered it in science-fiction. There’s a lot of neat, uncommom stuff in the novel as well.

  5. sarah said:

    it sounds really interesting – i’ll have to check it out. have you ever read octavia butler? i highly reccommend her work

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