Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Vampires, Politicians and Other Aberrations of Nature

This post promises to be rambling and somewhat pointless. Anyone who has known me for a while, in my various blog incarnations, won't be surprised by that. But I promise to at least touch on the subject of books and movies, which is -- after all -- the focus of this blog.

My daughter had all four wisdom teeth removed this morning. She is hammered on painkillers as we speak. On the positive side, she discovered that her oral surgeon is a fellow aspiring screenwriter. Today he gave her a book he said had helped him: How To Write a Movie in 21 Days.

I took my Nook with me, to keep me company in the waiting room, and continued reading Dracula by Bram Stoker. Oddly, I've never actually read this novel, though I know the story well through various adaptations in novels and films (including Dracula in Love by Karen Essex, which puts a very different spin on the story, from Mina's point of view.) 

The original Dracula is wonderfully creepy, even for someone for whom the story has already been spoiled, with gorgeous descriptive writing. I want to talk more about this book, and about images of vampires onscreen, but I'm saving that for my next post.

By the way, I am also still reading Boy A by Jonathan Trigell, which really has me hooked. It's so raw and painful and beautiful.

In the waiting room at the oral surgeon's office, the T.V. kept distracting me from my reading. It was cranking out CNN, which was going on ad nauseum about the Todd Akin fiasco


Sadly, so many misogynistic idiots have been coming out of the closet during the horror show that is this campaign season, that I'm almost over being shocked or offended. My personal favorite was Georgia's Terry England who insisted the already draconian anti-abortion legislation on the table needed to be expanded to prevent a woman taking medical steps to deliver a stillborn fetus. Because that's how cows and pigs do it. 

The cruelty of that stunned me. I had this experience myself when my son was stillborn in 1992. The only thing that could have made that grief, pain, and confusion worse for my family and me would have been if I'd been forced to carry my baby's corpse in my womb indefinitely. 

Due to my time spent in front of CNN today, I had the privilege of watching the commercial Akin aired, retracting and apologizing for his statement. Apparently, somebody had explained things to him in short, simple sentences that he could understand.

By the way, the oxymoronic term "legitimate rape" has already been added to the Urban Dictionary. And just so you know, Akin, misspoke when he used that phrase. He meant to say forcible rape. How anyone could think that absurdly redundant phrase is any better is beyond me. I suppose Akin's advisors decided they'd done all they could to reign in his stupidity and let that slip through.

This sort of thing would almost be humorous, maybe, in a very "black comedy" kind of way, if it weren't so chilling. It's not just that we elect stupid, misogynistic people into office. It's not just that I sometimes fear our country's political arena is the laughingstock of the rest in the world. (Though imbeciles in high office may be a universal problem.) It's what this says about society's attitude about gender, rape, and violence.

I remember reading an interview with Laurie Halse Anderson, author of the wonderful young adult novel Speak, which explores the subject of rape in an honest though non-graphic way. She said one of the most disturbing letters she received was from a boy who'd read her novel. He was confused -- why was the protagonist so upset about being raped?

What do we do about the fact that we live in a society that's handing down such a sick, twisted ethic about intimacy, sexuality, gender and violence, a mentality that does as much of a disservice to men as it does to women?

I don't know, but if anything positive comes out of the behavior of people like Akin, maybe it will get people asking and thinking about those kinds of questions. And perhaps it will encourage women to get out and VOTE!

On a lighter note, I was going to discuss vampires and sex, but it seems grossly inappropriate here. :-) Fodder for the next post.


  1. Loved this round-up post. I, too, haven't read Dracula - bits and pieces of it - and this is coming from a Vampire and horror fan (I should certainly feel ashamed!).

    Everything you said in the last few paragraphs about rape and still born babies, I completely agree with. It's such a sad day when a US Senate candidate is saying such ridiculous, outlandish things that (probably) a lot of people will agree with.

    My grandmother also experienced giving birth to a still-born child, and I would have hated - like you, too - to have heard that she had carried that child after it's passing. That's horrible.

    On the Speak subject, I've watched the film which I really enjoyed, and have been meaning to read the book for a number of years now. I can't believe that a boy asked why the main character was so affected by the rape, that is truly shocking. Sad to know that kids have grown up without their parents/guardians/whomever explaining these things to them so they can understand.

    1. I've heard the movie Speak is good, and I'd like to see it, though I'm not generally a fan of Kristen Stewart.

      I wonder how many people do agree with these ridiculous statements? I suspect most folks are somewhat moderate on the abortion issue. If they don't support open access to legal abortion, they believe in exceptions in cases of rape, incest, and other exceptional circumstances. If they do support legal abortion, they see it as a serious moral decision and certainly not something that should be "used as birth control."

      What puzzles me is that these extreme right-wingers are getting so much press and are, apparently, having a big impact on the Republican platform in this election. And I can hardly even grasp what these kinds of attitudes of rape say about our culture. Very puzzling.

    2. I've been puzzling over that boy who asked the question ever since I read about it, several years ago. Obviously I found it unbelievable too. Did he not understand what "rape" meant? Or had he been infected with the sick, twisted old "girls ask for it" mentality and didn't think it was a big deal? It's a mystery.

      I agree. Adults do need to talk to pre-teens and teens and make sure they clearly understand the difference between an act of sex (which rape is not) and an act of violence.

  2. Enjoy reading Dracula, I read it a while ago and I liked it. I found it a bit long for my taste though, especially towards the end. I look forward to your thoughts on it if you review it.

    My heart goes out to you about the baby.
    And I agree with you as well, it is unreal the things that have come out of his mouth. Like that sign says, you can't fix stupid!
    Yes, hopefully more women will get out there and vote now.

    1. Dracula is a bit long, but I'm reading it in spurts, along with another book. :-) I do hope to review it.

      Thanks for your thoughts about the baby. Of course, it was 20 years ago -- and a fairly common experience -- but still not easy.

  3. I'd love to read a post about Dracula and vampires on screen. I took a class in college all about Frankenstein in film that was fascinating.

    I hope your daughter's mouth is healing -- getting wisdom teeth pulled is miserable!

  4. I was looking forward to the post about vampires and sex, especially the sex. ;)


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