The novel Earth Abides by George R. Stewart explores the rebuilding of a small society after a catastrophic event. Afterwards, the rebuild is chronicled through the generations of a family, Ish and his wife, Em. This book shows the progression of the generation that follows the one that survived the catastrophe and how, as the years go by, their children revert to a lifestyle more suited to their environment. While adapting to this rehashed hunter-gatherer lifestyle, however, what you notice about this novel is how quickly women fall to the wayside. In the development of characters, many women in this book, including Em, were relegated to the margins of their own story. Each woman is more or less a mere copy of the other ones mentioned, leaving a great flatness in half of the population of “The Tribe,” the women contributing almost nothing besides bearing more sons who become central characters. In this novel, Stewart does not do the women characters of his reconstructed world justice, especially Em.
Em who is given the title of “Mother of Nations,” is only referred to when she gives birth to children after the first part of the book. Besides the first section of the book, her involvement and actions seemed to be based solely upon birthing and raising children. While some may assume that this is reasonable in hunter-gather type societies, based upon the need to survive, most roles in these types of societies were actually egalitarian. Now, the argument could be made that if a woman is rearing children then it should be intuitive that they are relegated to restricted roles, because they would not be able to provide food. However, in studies of the origins of gender, such as the one done by Sandra Bowdler and Jane Balme, they say:
I have never had an issue or any fear surrounding death and mortality. That is when it comes to myself. I had honestly never considered living very long, which may be due to the large slew of deaths that occurred when I was 15-17. Three of which were murders, one of my dad’s best friend and my sister’s and I’s godfather (the other a distant barely known relative, and another of a kid who went to my high-school). My struggle has since been that of a wide range of ages of those who died, I realized that I too was very likely to die young.
In drastic contrast to this I have a hard time recognizing and handling people aging. Old people who slowly lose their minds is a realistic fear of mine. That is of no fault of those elder people. But in all my experiences with death I was not struck with any personal fear of my life ending. This may be due to the fact that I have been suicidal for a large part of my life, but I had honestly never considered living a full adulthood.
On the other hand I was deeply upset when other people dies and not for the reasons you would think. I find that there are two things that bring out the worst in people. Death and birth, for some reason everything begins to revolve mostly around the people who have very little of nothing to do with either event. Used to manipulate and falsely cite the wises of needs of the deceased or newborn, honestly it’s pretty fucked. Worse than that there is some solace in the people you love dying young. Now hold tf on, you say that’s so wrong. Let me explain that one of the most horrible things is have someone who was basically an immortal God in your young life, the person who you heard stories about die young and still some how your hero is better than growing up to be disenchanted. Currently I am watching the sudden decline of my father, and along with realizing he isn’t the person I remembered or idolized as a child, is much harder than the sudden deaths. Self actualization and realization is in some ways more horrible than having questions forever. You don’t see minds and bodies deteriorate, or the pain that aging into death brings. For the first time ever I saw a picture of my dad and he looked old, from the ages of about 22-40 years of bodily abuse, hard labor, depression, weight fluctuations, two cross country moves, and the murder of a best friend he always looked the same. Now the years and strife have caught up physically and with it the sole stability in my tumultuous universe I have realized is not going to bury me, before I do him.
I guess I had confronted the idea of my own death and mortality, an openly accepted it as a fact. I however have yet to come to grips with such as it applies to those I care about.
Mostly I craft, I have a severly neglected Etsy I should update…
Sorry for the mini hiatus! I picked up extra work hours so my brain has been mush!
As the Kween of complicated and intricate interactions I have somehow seemingly managed to sort out how to operate in this sea of emotional upheaval. Here’s how I have done so in some semblance of sanity: Continue reading
Isn’t it fucked that today I am glad I never reported any of the sexual assault I been through?
Aren’t I glad that a shitty white doctor thought when I was ten years old I was “faking,” my neurological disorders and never diagnosed me properly.
Ain’t I glad that Women of Color like me have attitudes and never depression, ptsd, or anxiety.
OH BUT WAIT I won’t qualify for coverage because I had a parent who physically abused me my whole childhood, and since it is court documented and counts as a “prior condition” no healthcare for me. Or my teenage sisters. Because somebody decided that trauma survivors and beaten children don’t deserve help. I am livid.