Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Bloodchild" by Octavia Butler

YAY! So I am required to write a blog for one of my classes on what I am reading in class. Since I am doing a reading project in addition to that, I figured I probably should blog ANYWAYS. So. 

Okay, first story we read in my Sci-Fi (a term that apparently is quite offensive to "S.F." Snobs) Women's Lit class is "Bloodchild" by Octavia Butler.

SUPER weird story! At the end of the story I felt like I had bugs crawling through my skin and it just made me cringe. Anyways! The story is basically about how humans have traveled to another world (because earth has been destroyed... so conveniently!) and have become people who carry alien's babies. The main person of the story is Gan, who is a boy on the verge of "manhood". He is chosen by one of the aliens (I pictured a overgrown centipede in my head during this entire story because the author is constantly referring to the multiple legs) to be the human who carries their child. In the story he witnesses a "birth" gone wrong on another human male and becomes scared. Gan and his alien fight like they are high school lovers and eventually she ends up injecting him immediately after their fight, much like a high school relationship.... Get in a fight? That's ok! Let's make babies!


I found this story extremely interesting because of the way that the birth of the aliens are described. The only examples in the story of humans who are carrying the aliens young are those of men, and at one point there is a man who is basically being eaten alive by his alien/lover's young. He is pretty much cut open while an alien digs around his organs to find the babies... yeah... gross....

So Gan gets scared after seeing the horrific account of a birth gone bad and doesn't know if he wants to do it. But then there is the issue of whether he REALLY has a choice or not. This seemed to me to be EXTREMELY similar to the way that women in our society seem to be portrayed... sometimes.

When women give birth it is VERY graphic. There is blood and goo and guts and bleh. So, that being said, we (or me and other women) still choose to have children more than choosing not to have children. When the situation is straight out explained is gross and sounds like it hurts immensely. When looking at a baby, even a newborn, it's amazing to think that they came out of a hole that could not have POSSIBLY produced it... yet... it did. In this story Gan doesn't know if he wants to go through the experience and the pain, and the alien just says "ok, I will go elsewhere". But as women of this time/age/pick a word, if we chose not to have children we are constantly badgered. Quickly after marriage young couples are bombarded with the question of when they are going to have kids and start a family. If a woman chooses not to have a child, people are immediately wondering WHY. So do we really have a choice? Yes, technically, no one can force us to carry a child. However, if we chose to be nontraditional that is constantly thrown in our face, even by just using the term nontraditional! In the story Gan is basically an alien baby incubator, is that not how women have also been portrayed as and are still portrayed as sometimes?

That being said, I am ALL for being a mother and a even housewife. I am getting married in May and plan on start popping kids out right away, which kind of makes my argument seem silly. However, I have made that choice. I have friends who are in their 30's who are married and have CHOSEN not to have children. They enjoy traveling and independence and spending their money that they work hard for every day on themselves. That being said, I have heard numerous times people ask them why they are being so selfish. "So many people are out there who want to have kids and can't and you are just deciding not to". This statement makes me SO mad! If there is a man who is like "nope I am not having kids" it is PERFECTLY fine and acceptable. Women, however, obviously have something wrong with them if they chose to take this route.

I suppose my frustrations that this short story bring up is the fact that at the end of the day in many ways, we are a slave to childbirth. Let me be clear... I am not saying that having children is bad. I am saying that being EXPECTED to have children is bad. When I have kids I want them to know that they were my choice, not my requirement.

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