Whether people like it or not, there will always be people who don’t fit into societies cookie cutter form. These people are people with disabilities, the people that others look down upon and people that are told their whole lives that they will never amount to anything. All this degrading of people with disabilities comes from a socially ingrained stigma regarding disabilities. With this stigma, people with disabilities are often viewed as people that are afflicted with curses, disease, dependence, and helplessness. Not only that but they are also victims of social avoidance, stereotyping, discrimination, hate crimes, and condescension. I argue however, that these people are the people that others should look up to, the ones that people should look out for. That’s because, more times than not, people with disabilities work harder than the standard person and they use their disability to their advantage. In fact, some people have such a grasp on their disability and know how to use it in such unique ways they can be perceived as having a superpower.
Many famous people we know about have done just this, take Stephen Hawking for example. Hawking had ALS or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and later became wheelchair bound and unable to speak without the help of a machine. Despite all that he still became a world famous physicists and used his disability has a push for the discovery of some of this theories. Another great example is FDR, even though he became paralyzed from the waist down and was wheelchair bound, that didn’t stop him from becoming president and becoming a great world leader. However, these great fleets are not only present in our world, but they are also present in the world of fiction. In The Gone World, we meet Shannon Moss, a female amputee who is hindered by her leg. Throughout the novel, she overcomes her disability, which isn’t an easy one to overcome, as it impacts almost every aspect of her life. Shannon becomes an amputee after her mission in which she encounters the Terminus.
However, after becoming an amputee, Shannon doesn’t let that stop her, in fact it actually drives her more to want to stop the Terminus and find the missing teenager. All throughout the novel Shannon is constantly traveling through time and pushing herself. Making herself willing to do anything to stop the Terminus from happening. In fact, by the end of book Shannon is essentially a time traveling badass who was able to figure out what event ultimately leads to The Terminus. This women single handedly did this, in fact she is so badass that she alone triggers the black hole that wipes out Libera and the IFT the entire story has been taking place in and ultimately saves the day, for now. With this action allowing her to reset the events of time, with her best friend not being murdered and with Shannon living happily with the man she loves with her unborn child. Overall, The Gone World doesn’t paint Shannon has a helpless person, who can’t do anything herself. Instead, it paints her as someone who despite having a disability can achieve things and even end up saving the world for the time being. Overall, she is painted as a hero and badass women. I believe this is how we should view all disabled people, has people who are able accomplish their goals. I hope The Gone World will be used an example of how we should view disabled people.
All my life I have lived in the United States, a country that works under a Capitalistic economic system. Because of this I have had the opportunity to see both the good and bad of Capitalism and how its effects have affected our country over the last few years. I for one am an advocate for Capitalism, but I can see the negative affects that it can have. That is why for this blog I will be focusing on the negatives of Capitalism. With a major one being the class divide and how people in these classes are worked and viewed. Starting with the lower-class, those born into this class are often doomed to stay in this class, often not due to their own fault, but the fault of the system. In Capitalism the jobs of the lower-class are often very labor intensive, repetitive, and don’t really offer ways to advance, unless your lucky. To make matter worse these jobs often pay very little, leaving people very poverty stricken and with little opportunity for advancement. However, the worst the part about being a member of the lower-class is the disrespect and crude looks members must endure on a constant basis. For the lower-class life is a constant struggle and because of this many members stop trying to advance and often lose hope.
The upper-class on the other hand, are often painted as the go getters, the people we aspire to be, the ones who work hard to achieve their goals, the ones we should be afraid of. This is because, like the lower-class, most upper-class people are born into their status. Expect the upper-class can advance in their careers and have a handful of opportunities due to their status and the money that comes with it. Not only that but, their jobs are viewed has having more meaning and are often not labor intensive. These classes and capitalistic concepts can be found all throughout the novel Zone One. Where Whitehall uses a virus and its variants to poke fun of and highlight the negatives of capitalism. In Zone One we have two different virus variants, the Skels and the Stragglers. The Skels are infected people who are very violent, active, and actively seek people to bite and infect. Skels will stop at nothing to infect others and they are always full of energy.
Stragglers on the other hand, are laid back, some might say they are lazy, they tend to keep to themselves and they are often stuck doing one mundane task. The major differences between these viruses are used to highlight the differences in the classes in capitalism. The Skels represent the upper-class, the upper-class are often people who are actively striving to reach their goals, they are always active, and they often have lively hood while performing their job. They also tend to have a lot of hope and ambition in their eyes, and they tend to step over people and belittle people to achieve their goals. Not only do the Skels represent the upper-class in the way that they act, but also in way they are viewed and talked about. In the novel the Skels are considered dangerous and are often seeked out and killed more than the Stragglers. This shows how the upper class are treated, the upper class are always talked about and seeked out. They are the ones we pay attention to.
On the other hand, the Stragglers represent the lower-class, they show the jobs and meaningless type of life the lower-class are subjected to. Their actions and attitude show the loss of hope and the meaningless life of the lower-class. They show and represent how the lower- class feels stuck and how every day is just doing the same task over and over with no advancement. Not only that but the stragglers show how the lower class is treated, the Stragglers are talked about less, not really considered, and are often avoided at all costs. This is how the lower-class is treated, they are cast aside and often not looked at. After taking all of this into account, it can be made clear that the novel with the virus, is trying to say that capitalism is a virus and one that spreads like a cancer. The novel is trying to say that if we aren’t carful, capitalism will become a virus and lead to our downfall.
The world has we know it is one that has been plagued by a deep history of war. Even today we constantly see and hear about war and we see it’s devastating effects on those who are caught in the middle. Often, it is the those who are caught in the middle who suffer the most. Those who are caught in the middle are often civilians, people who have done nothing wrong, the innocent. One of most common ways that civilians are caught in the middle is from the act of suicide bombings. Growing-up, I remember hearing and seeing the accounts and aftermaths of such bombings on the news. With the most rememberable one being 9-11, this attack on the World Trade center in New York took the life of more than 2,977 people and the effects of it can still be seen today. With people dying years later from complications and cancer, with even several pregnancies have been lost because of 9-11. Another set of bombings that I remember well are countless ones I have heard about in Iraq, where many civilians were killed, and children where often used as bombers. These attacks unfortunately, however, aren’t the worst things I have heard and see come from war throughout my life, that unfortunately would have to be the recounts of torture I have learned about throughout the years.
Many torture victims are civilians that have been captured as either a form of ransom because they are tough to know critical information or because they have been accused of a crime. Regardless of the reason these people are often put through hell, either by being beaten, waterboarded and even sexually abused. Most people after being tortured are killed, but some are returned to society, but at a great cost to the individual who was tortured. More times than not the person is unable to function in society and they have metal problems that will follow them for life, like PTSD. This flows into another common occurrence of war, the refugee camps, more specifically the mistreatment and poor living conditions of these camps. Often at times the people living in these camps have poor access to food and become victims of violence.
All these harsh realities of war can be found in American War and center around Sarat, a true civilian victim in the novel. She experiences all these horrible things firsthand, first her father is killed in a suicide bombing when filling out paperwork that will allow for work in the north. The bomber was a mentally ill person, on the road to suicide who was talked into doing the bombing. This bombing not only killed Sarat’s father, causing emotional damage, but it also caused her life and the life of her family to change forever. They are forced to move out of their home into a refugee camp that is riddled with violence and horrid living conditions. In fact, during Sarats time at the camp she is victim of violence, however not only is she herself assaulted, but her mother is killed, and her brother suffers brain damage from a bullet to the head.
To top off Sarat’s experience, she herself, ends up being a victim of torture and is released after. This has a devastating effect on her psyche, has she has had constant PTSD attacks and she is hardly able to function in society afterwards as a result. In fact, her psyche drops so much that she releases a virus on the world that kills millions of people. Overall, all of the things that have happened to Sarat parallel our real world and help to showcase a huge issue our world faces, civilians and their lives being changed by war. Sarat, like the people in the Iraq and 9-11 bombing attacks, has her life changed forever, she lost someone and her home. Not the mention the effects of these bombings followed her for the rest of her life and had alarming effects. Her time at the refugee camp reflects what those campus are like in real life and highlight some of the horrors that go down at them. Lastly, her time as a torture victim highlights the very real issues that arise when torture is used during times of war and the devastating effects it can have not only the person tortured by the societies, they live in. Due to all of this, I fear that if we don’t change the way civilians are affected during war times, we could face similar or worse outcomes as presented in the novel.
I remember the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a world in panic, a world drenched in uncertainty and despair. This was truly a dark time for the world and many people, with people losing their jobs from shutdowns, the amount of death, and just pure isolation from loved ones. I know during this time I was struggling along with most of the world, I couldn’t talk to my classmates, I couldn’t hang out with my friends, and worst of all I couldn’t see my boyfriend. This for me, and a lot of people took a toll on my mental health. However, amidst all the darkness there was one thing that helped me, and many others get through the worst time of the pandemic and that was the arts. I remember during the beginning of the pandemic many artists where using music, plays, and other mediums of art to not only help their mental health, but to help the mental health of others. Artists used their respective mediums to help spread hope, give everyone something to relate to, and give everyone a way to come together.
One of the artists that did this was The Backstreet Boys who performed their hit song from the 90’s I Want It That Way in a virtual music video mash-up that featured each group member singing their part of the song from their home. This music video was part of the iHeart Living Room Concert for America, which was performed has a way to give America hope and a sense of coming together during these dark times. This concert also helped to spark a surge in Americans getting into arts and crafts as a coping mechanism and as a way for people of all backgrounds to come together. For many people were starting to use social media has an outlet to share their art projects and comment on others, giving everyone a way to socialize and bring forth a way to bring everyone together. However, this not only something that happens in the real-world.
Some fictional works highlight on the theme of the arts in pandemics, with a common one being Station Eleven. In Station Eleven art is seen has something that endures, something that remains, even when things like technology don’t. This is evident from the very first scene and last scenes of the book where the famous play King Lear is shown. By placing King Lear in these scenes, we get the message that even after everything is gone and even after a mass amount of death, art still exists and remains a part of the human soul. Not only does the novel imply this, but it also implies that art survived because it was vital and connected to human life. All throughout the novel we see many characters using art to relate to the world they lost and has a way to connect with others. For example, we see the members of The Traveling Symphony preforming Shakespeare to towns they visit and even just for themselves. They often rehearse lines and even play musical instruments. They also, when raiding empty buildings often look for musical instruments.
Another example comes from Miranda, before the pandemic she created the comic Station Eleven. This comic was her way of escaping life, while also drawing parallels to it. This comic book is another piece of art that survives after the pandemic and it acts as an escape and point of relation for many characters. For Tyler, it’s a way to go back to the past, it’s something that allows him to cope with the current situation of the world. For Kristen it’s away for her to remember the past that she so often forgets, while also giving her hope, giving her hope that things will return to normal. However, the biggest thing this comic does is connect people, think about the final interaction between Kristen and Tyler. In their interaction they both keep quoting lines from the comic, while quoting lines they form a connection and have a since of connectedness, in the end this saved Kristen’s life.
The parallels between the arts and pandemics in both Station Eleven and real life are easily seen. With artists in both using the arts to bring people together and give them that light in the dark they need. I for one believe art has saved a lot of people during these dark times and it’s something that is often overlooked.
The date is April 11th, 2019 and Governor Mike DeWine has just signed The Heartbeat bill into Ohio law. On this day, the reproductive rights of women in Ohio once again where shrunk. For those you who don’t know The Heartbeat bill prohibits abortion of a fetus if the presence of a fetal heartbeat can be found. Meaning that if a woman wants to abort her baby when a heartbeat is present, she can’t, she is forced to carry her baby to term. The only ways to get around this are if a physician deems the pregnancy to be a danger to the mother or if a method used to detect a fetal heartbeat malfunctioned. In none of these circumstances does the women get a say, another machine or person decides for her whether she will carry a baby to term. The other unfortunate part of this bill is that it’s not just law in Ohio, it’s law in many other states as well, making women all the over country forced to, in most cases, carry unwanted pregnancies. However, this not where this lack of rights ends, even in states where the heartbeat bill isn’t present, women still must jump through hoops to prevent and terminate pregnancies. I mean just think how hard it is to gain access to resources like birth control, the morning after pill, and other basics. Not only this, but women who seek these resources or those who seek abortion are often called names, looked down upon, and even are sometimes victims of crimes.
Just think of all the news stories that showcase the mistreatment of women who enter and even work at places like Planned Parenthood. Because these mistreatments of women and the mistreatments of their rights is so prevalent, we have seen people expressing their opinion on these mistreatments in forms of media. Future Home of The Living God, is a current example of this, all throughout the book themes of mistreatment of pregnant women and woman’s reproductive rights are discussed. Cedar and most of the women she encounters are stripped of all rights pertaining to reproductive areas. First, there is an amendment made to the Patriot Act that allows The Government to obtain the medical records of all women and use the information in them to track down pregnant women. Once The Government finds a pregnant woman, the woman is taken against her will and put into compound, to be treated like a prisoner. Not only does this violate a women’s right to privacy it also paints pregnant women as criminals, therefore giving them no rights. In the compounds, which where renovated jails and old hospitals, the pregnant women are confined to single room, with the bare necessities needed to live, and forced to live out their terms in this room. On top of this women are forced to eat rotten and discussing food, forced to have daily checkups where they are tested, they are not told any information on their baby’s, can’t see their ultrasounds, and the compound where they are held is heavy guarded. What’s worse is that is that these women can’t leave and if they try to, they will be punished or worse killed after delivering a child.
The number of rights that are stripped from pregnant women in this novel is astounding, they get no say in the care that their wombs receive, no say in the care they receive, and what I find to be the worse, they get no information on the health of their baby, they get no information or say about something inside of them, something they made. That’s just beyond nuts and to make matters worse, these women don’t even have the rights to their child after they are born, The Government does. Plus, if The Government deems the baby to be de-evolved or have some type of issue, they are killed, and the mothers never know about it. All of this would, very understandably, make women not want to children, however The Government in the novel doesn’t give women this choice. Most women are forced to have children, regardless of if they want them or not. This happens in a variety of ways; one is that The Government makes women sign up for draft to be womb donators. If a woman is picked they must be inseminated and carry a child to term while being held in a compound. To make matters worse there is no guaranty that once a woman has their child that they will be let free, especially if the women gave birth to normal baby. The women who gave birth could be forced to carry another child and live in the compound. The second way that women are forced to give birth is simply that if you get pregnant you have to have the child, you can’t get an abortion, for it’s outlawed.
In relation to our world, as stated above, we also have strict laws about abortion, and even though it may seem crazy, some of the things I have described in the book happen in real life. Take immigrants for example, here in the U.S. along the border we have a compound where we keep immigrants who are trying to enter the country. A lot of these immigrants are pregnant women or women with baby’s, often at times these women are treated like criminals in this compound. They don’t get medical treatment, are forced to eat terrible food, and live-in conditions worse than Cedar in the novel. They have no rights and to makes matters worse they often have their children taken away from them, sometimes to never see them again. Even minorities who are U.S. citizens have less rights and accommodations when it comes to reproductive health and they often get their children taken away from them too. Something that Cedar, being indigenous, can relate to. Lastly, many women here and around the world, are forced to carry babies they don’t want all the time, with an abortion being almost impossible to obtain. There are even women in our country, like in the book, who are forcefully inseminated like in the case of Rape, who, because abortion is either outlawed or because rape isn’t deemed an exception to abortion law, are forced to carry children they don’t want.
Future Home of The Living God, I think does a great job of highlighting the struggles women go through when it comes to reproductive rights and showcases what can happen when these rights are too restrictive or non-existent. We see a society in chaos, we see people turning a bigger blind eye to the issues at hand, and people who should be on the same side betraying each other. With the parallels this book has to real life, I fear that if reproductive rights are not taken seriously, we could see chaos like this unfold and it could lead to the downfall of society as we know it.
l Atwood’s, The Year of The Flood, a story of a dystopia suffering with the before and aftereffects of a man-made pandemic, paints its world using religious themes and ideas. One of the main ways this is shown is in the books title, The Year of The Flood, not only is this the title of the book, but it is also a commonly brought up phrase in the book. The main character that commonly uses this phrase is Adam One when he talks about the evil that resides in humans and their betrayal to God’s other creation of animals. The phrase/title, “The Year of The Flood,” in this context refers to a second Noah’s ark. As a reference to Noah is made in the novel, for those of you how don’t know, Noah was one of a few humans chosen by God to survive a great flood that God sends to wipe out most of the human race, due to their evil deeds. God then tasked Noah with creating a better Earth.
In the novel, this story of Noah and the title, The Year of The Flood, is used to, first, showcase what the flood in this novel is. The flood in this novel is a reference to the pandemic that breaks out and kills almost every human on the planet, just like the flood in the biblical story. Not only that, but the title is also used to represent the ideas of rebirth and regeneration. As stated by Adam One, the people who will parish in the flood will be those who don’t treat animals with respect and those who have separated themselves from animals and have given into humanity. When the flood hits, this in way happens, as the only people left are Gardeners, ex-Gardeners, and some Pantballers. However, the elements of rebirth and regeneration start to come into play when the remaining survivors run into the humans created by Glenn. These humans seem to be perfect and immortal and symbolize the rebirth and regeneration aspect the title is hinting at and shows a parallel to the story of Noah. These lab created humans came about after most of the normal humans had died off and they show the rebirth of the human race, but better and improved.
However, religion and its notions are not the only themes and ideas presented. One of these other themes/ideas is sex work and the way sex is viewed and used in this dystopian world. This idea is explored through the way the book structures and tells its story through the voices of women. To me, sex in this novel is not viewed has a romantic or intimate act, but an act of trade and survival. Through the course of the novel women are treated terribly are often sexually abused. Recall the sexual actions that took place with Toby and Blanco. Blanco viewed her as nothing but a sex machine and someone who would bend to his every whim, because of this Toby was raped and abused on multiple occasions. This not only happens to Toby, but lots of other women as well and not just the ones who were victims of Blanco, even women living in The Compounds deal with this on a constant basis. While another women named Amanda is forced to give sex as a form of trade for survival, as she explains to Ren and even demonstrates this throughout the book. Amanda is even used to convey that this is a common action as men often ask for sex from a woman as form of payment, this is evident after Croze asks for sex after supplying Amanda and Ren with some drugs.
Another way Amanda showcases the sexual abuse and abuse of women is that when the painballers capture her during the flood they simply keep her alive because of her reproductive abilities. The painballers (which are men), parade her around as a trade, as they view her as something men would want for sex and reproduction. Amanda in this situation is being treated not as a human, but as a tool. Which is a common way that women are viewed in this novel. Then you have Ren who is used to show the hardship and poor treatment of sex workers. Ren’s hardships in this job show how people, even people in the real-world, view sex workers. Ren is abused by clients, called names, and treated as someone who is less than human. This how many people in real world view sex-workers as well. However, Ren also shows the side that many people don’t take into consideration in the real world when it comes to sex-workers, the story of how many women become one. Ren showcases a typically case, she never wanted to do sex work, but she was forced into it in order to survive.
The last main theme that I find is important to highlight is the theme of government control and how too much of it can lead to collapse or in the case of the novel, a pandemic. In the novel, the CropSeCrops (CSC) appears to be in charge of everything from punishment to science. Atwood, in novel uses the actions of the CSC to showcase how dangerous this can be, in the novel the CSC create and disperse a pill with the help of researchers at WeizerHealth that contains a hidden virus. Once the pills have been dispersed it causes a worldwide pandemic. With this Atwood is saying that when a government has too much control bad things can happen and that we need to keep The Government out of some particular things. Another example where is happens is in a game series called Resident Evil. In the game a medical company called Umbrella, that is heavily controlled by The Government, created a virus and leaked it out into a small city, this city was then infected with the virus and caused a zombie outbreak that led to a worldwide outbreak. Both forms of media are showcasing what can happen when the government has too much control and I think with this Atwood is trying to warn us about the modern day.
For many scientists need funding for projects and often have no choice but to go through The Government and then The Government takes over the project. This really started to become an issue during the Cold War when The Government started using science for the advancement of the military. Ever since then The Government has had huge control on the science that takes place in this country.
Overall, Atwood with her novel is using these themes to tell us the dangers religion, mistreatment, and government can have on us and how if we are not careful, we will cause our own demise.