Monday, July 1, 2013

The TorchBearers' Book Club: Bumped chapter 12

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Chapter 12 is about a lot of self-fulfilling prophecies, economics, opposing believes and self-quoting. But first:

Texas tries to illegally pass a bill that would limit the legal abortion time to 20 weeks, and fails. Watch the livestream here, if you haven’t already, and read the follow-up on Ana’s blog here.

A part of the DOMA (Defence of Marriage Act) gets abolished by the Supreme Court Reports about the Gaypocalypse flood in soon after .

Rep. Tammy Duckworth - like a Boss.

Egads, USA, there might be some hope for you after all.
 
Trigger warning for reproductive coercion, rape, and economists fucking up people's lives.


When Harmony first told me that she’d changed her mind about tagging along, I was for seriously relieved because I didn’t know how I was going to break the news that she could in no way come with me to school today. We’re all supposed to stop stressing about opposing belief systems because we’re more, like, mature now and stuff. But guess what? The Churchies still freak everyone out. Not too long ago some Churchies from a local settlement took over Palmer Square and asked me, Malia, and Shoko if we had God when all we wanted to do was buy retro froyo. Then we all joked about how their godfreakiness could infect us and turn us from totally normal to totally not. And for days, even weeks afterward, the three of us laughed about it, like, “Ha. I’m going to burn in hell. Ha. Ha. Ha.” But the jokes are never really all that funny.

McCafferty, Megan (2011-04-26). Bumped (pp. 78-79). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

That’s a perfectly valid point, Melody. Unfortunately, this is also the reason why you’re really not suited to head any kind of Pro/Am club, be it one that promotes pregging or knitting.

Look, I appreciate honesty. Harmony’s belief system is restrictive in itself, let alone compared to what Melody’s used to, and it’s perfectly normal that she would have an averse reaction to it. But… that’s her reaction, and she doesn’t really frame it in that way. They freak everyone out. Who’s everyone? Everyone that isn’t part of Goodside? Everyone in Princeton? Everyone in Melody’s group of friends? Is this a common occurrence, or is she judging from an isolated incident? Through her generalising and framing, Melody refuses to own her feelings and blames it on everyone else - I’m not intolerant, she says, they’re the ones acting creepy.

As a person, Melody is perfectly entitled to whatever attitude her (European, upper-middle class, privileged) ass wants, but a leader should be able to commit to the higher goal - if not in truth, then at least in appearance.

Harmony was so calm and focused yesterday, remarkably so considering how jarring it must have been to leave Goodside behind. Since I found her on her knees in the common room this morning, however, she’s been acting kind of blinky. It’s possible she always wakes up like this. Maybe she’s got undiagnosed ADHD and she needs to self-medicate by, like, milking a cow or something to calm down.

McCafferty, Megan (2011-04-26). Bumped (p. 79). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

A leader should also check their disparaging commentary at the door, although, as we will see with Ventura Vida, that’s not a requirement.

Melody wonders if Zen tried to fulfil the pact by proxy-pregging with Harmony, and quizzes her about what they did. And… yeah, in case anyone is wondering, it is a pretty uncharitable thing to assume about anyone, and especially about your best friend and your long-lost sister. Harmony may be a virtual stranger, but Melody has known Zen for a great part of her life.

Part of it is jealousy, of course - it’s pretty clear that Melody and Zen are attracted to each other, but there is more to that. The clue was in the previous chapter, but I couldn’t quote that part because there wasn’t any space. From Lib’s rant(s):

“I’ve been selling everyone since you signed with me: MELODY MAYFLOWER IS THE FULL PACKAGE. Beauty and brains. I wish all my clients were as bright as you.”

I try to correct his mistake. “Actually, I’m not—”

“Oh, but you ARE. You must spend most your day fending off amateur offers from all the . . .” He screws up his mouth, just about the only part of his face he can move. “Opportunistic humpers at your high school.”

“But—”

“Do you have ANY IDEA how many of my clients break their conception contracts? They have NO appreciation for all the hard work I put in to making the perfect three-way match.” He snorts. “TOO HORMONAL to think about how their choices affect their OWN futures.”

“Mr. Lib, sir, I—”

“They all proooooomise to keep it pure. They’re all like”—his voice gets higher—“Lib! I won’t bump with him! He’s my everythingbut! Then they do a little too much TOCIN DOSIN’ and the next thing I know these girls have forgotten the but in everythingbut and they’re BUMPING with some unaccredited”—he turns his head and sticks out his tongue—“WORM.”

<…>

“You know to what great lengths I went to make sure your file was flawless,” he says in an emphatic whisper. “I put my reputation on the line for you. I pulled strings. I called in favors. Let’s just put it this way, Miss Melody Mayflower, I earned my fifteen percent!” He wipes his immobile brow, sits back, and raises the volume. “And it worked! It’s a testament to all my hard work that Jondoe accepted the Jaydens’ bid. He’s very selective, he takes only a fraction of the offers that come along. You can tell Ash and Ty that getting into the number one college in the WORLD will be a no-brainer after Jondoe gets into you!”

He cackles wildly.

“I cannot thank you enough for all your efforts in keeping your EYES on the PURITY PRIZE.”

McCafferty, Megan (2011-04-26). Bumped (pp. 72-75). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

“Hey, Melody, not only are you only worth as much as what your uterus can produce, you can’t even enjoy some no-brainer physical release or emotional intimacy. You see, you’re so perfect, the other boys might try to rape you for a cut of your profits. Better keep your legs crossed for a good measure. Because boys are horny and it’s up to girls to control them. Those that can’t are too stupid to live. And guess what else? When you finally get to bump with the most selective man in the industry, you can’t even take credit for it, because if it wasn’t for me pimping you out, you’d have to settle for some unaccredited worm.”

A bit too melodramatic? I thought so too. But think a little about all what he’s said. Men can’t help but want sex. It’s women’s job to restrain them. Women who have sex, even without the purpose of procreation, are ruining their futures. It doesn’t matter what you are, but what a man can do for you.

Is this really that different from what we’re used to hearing?

And if that doesn’t convince you, this chapter introduces us to Melody’s parents.

“Wake up, Pell-Mel! Wakey-wakey!”

“Oh!” Harmony jumps, splattering a spoonful of batter across her nightgown.

“It’s just Ash and Ty,” I croak. “Right on time for their a.m. stalking.”

Every school day at seven a.m., my parents shout at me until I turn on the 2Vu to confirm I’m keeping myself alive in their absence.

“PELL-MEL. PELL-MEL. PELL-MEL.” So goes the chant in the other room.

“If I don’t respond within two minutes, they call 911.”

“It’s nice that they care,” Harmony says.

“Yeah,” I snort. “That’s one way of looking at it.”

Between the wake-up calls, the 24/7 stalk app, and the GUARDIAN (Guaranteed Under-Age Remote Detection of Illegal Alcohol and Narcotics) monitor, my parents are far more oppressive when they’re on the other side of the world than when they’re right down the hall.

McCafferty, Megan (2011-04-26). Bumped (p. 83). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

You know, when I was younger and lived with my parents, I wouldn’t have thought this behaviour all that strange. It ranks up there with Not-Knocking-Before-Entering as the kind of parental concern trolling that doesn’t really bother you until you actually go out and live on your own (or with roomies) for a while.

But Ash and Ty’s parental bullying goes beyond that. They know about Harmony, not because Melody told them, but because they stalked the twins’ chats. And, when Melody assured them that she wasn’t joining a cult and told them the truth, they did this:

“You’re certain she’s not on the market,” Ash said.

“She’s engaged to be married,” I assured them.

“She could counterfeit and undercut you,” Ty coldly pointed out.

“It’s against her religion,” I told them.

McCafferty, Megan (2011-04-26). Bumped (p. 85). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

And here is the thing I already mentioned - Melody Mayflower is valuable, as long as she is one of a kind. Her market value is in direct proportion to her availability, and so if there’s two of her, her price immediately drops.

If Ash and Ty, the only parents Melody’s ever known, treat her like a prize cow, it’s no wonder she’s paranoid about Zen trying to have sex with Harmony, or about people seeing Harmony’s face at all.

But wait, you ask. If Ash and Ty are so oppressive, why are they not there? Author shenanigans? DPS?

No. They’re just acting like businesspeople, spending money they don’t have. When Melody first signed with the Jaydens and got her six-figure bonus, they remembered all the things they hadn’t managed to experience, took the money and started touring the world. As you do.

Anyway, back to the present: Ash and Ty ask Melody if she’s heard back from Lib yet, and then surprise her by saying that they met a couple at a safari. Their son was Melody’s age, and their older daughter is looking for a Surrogette. You can see where this is going.

Melody, of course, assumes this is a joke - after all, her parents were the ones who groomed her to be the model for all models to come, the Pro of Pros, yada, yada, yada. But her parents aren’t laughing.

“Here’s the thing, Melody,” Ash begins.

And that’s when they tell me that it’s not about the money that they spent and don’t have anymore, it’s the money they spent that they never had.

“We borrowed against the equity on your Eggs.”

<…>

How could they let this happen? How could they have turned their only daughter into a toxic asset in need of a quick bump bailout? I expected more from them. If not as parents, then as economists.

McCafferty, Megan (2011-04-26). Bumped (p. 88-90). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Actually, Mel, that makes perfect sense. Economists focusing on a short-term perfect-scenario is the main reason why we have a financial crisis, education fails and medicine is constantly being undercut. Most politicians are economists, and they don’t like to think about things beyond their term. Why we aren’t electing historians to run our countries, I have no idea.

But yeah - basically, Ash and Ty couldn’t wait until the initial bid, borrowed money to “enhance her brand” and expected everything to be hunky-dory, but thanks to the Jaydens’ dallying, things turned against their favour. They expected the cash cow to deliver thrice before she died, and the bank wants its money back.

Remember the last chapter, where I analysed the quote from Ash and Ty’s paper and predicted only bad things to come? How adding monetary incentives to social incentives is just a recipe for trouble? See how quickly that pays off?

That, my dears, is McCafferty not holding discussion and plot back because she needs the space to wax eloquent about how hot the love interest is.

“How do you think we could afford to send you to that soccer training clinic in Brazil?”

“Or guitar lessons with a Grammy winner?”

“You think the Global U. summer camp comes cheap?”

<…>

“You’re still young!” says Ash with an edge to her voice.

“You can pregg with our new friends,” says Ty, eerily matching her tone, “and still have time left to deliver for the Jaydens.”

McCafferty, Megan (2011-04-26). Bumped (p. 89-90). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Melody’s parents, you will find, are masters of deflection. It’s everyone’s fault - Lib for not acting, the Jaydens not deciding, Melody for needing extra-super-special lessons, the trainers wanting money, the sky not being blue enough - everyone but themselves. You will also find that, upon examining their arguments, a very easy rebuttal - you didn’t have to do any of that. If you wanted Melody to improve her soccer skills, why not send her to a clinic in the country? Why not hire a private tutor to train her for Global U? And seriously, who gets a Grammy winner to teach anyone music? If you hired your equivalent of Taylor Swift to tutor your daughter, you deserve debtor’s prison.

But of course Ash and Ty will try these arguments on Melody rather than, say, Lib and the Jaydens. Melody is underage, inexperienced, and financially and legally dependent on them. She can’t fight back. The other adults can.

Holy shit, Melody’s parents are fucking abusive!

Now I’m shaking from the inside out. I take a deep, calming breath and repeat the words my positive energist taught me to say when I’ve got a problem and don’t know how to solve it.

I am smart.

I am stunning.

I am strong.

I am everything I need to be.

Hopefully the money they spent putting me in this crisis helped me develop the skills to get myself out of it.

McCafferty, Megan (2011-04-26). Bumped (p. 90). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

But hey, at least they provided her with therapy up front.



*Note: Image via Goodreads.

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