Monday, October 7, 2013

The TorchBearer's Book Club: Bumped chapter 24

This chapter… oh, this chapter.

I’m very positive in my belief that this is where shit gets real.

Funny, right? I’ve just spent weeks upon weeks of talking how real this or that aspect of Bumped is, but when I look back, I notice that so many of the harder moments were offset by some kind of comic relief. Lib the pimp is portrayed as flamboyant and camp, shrill and implicitly gay, and mostly unthreatening. Melody’s parents like to indulge in Toxin brownies. Shoko’s always got jokes up her sleeve, and even Malia’s story, while tragic, is delivered through the lens of Melody’s narration, which strips it a little of its immediacy.

But this chapter is when we witness propaganda at work, first hand. And, holy shit, does Ventura Vida sell it.

“The Pro / Am has an image problem,” she says. “We’re just not sexy enough. I mean, rilly.”

We reviewed the fund-and-awareness raising success of “Why save yourself when you can save the world?” T-shirt sale. We signed a petition to have the caf services serve more fertile and high-folate versions of pizza and French fries because we’re all gagging on the spinach and chickpeas in the salad bar. It’s the last meeting of the year, and there’s nothing else on the Pro / Am agenda except to vote for the next president.

McCafferty, Megan, “Bumped”, page 137, Harper Collins, Kindle Edition

Nothing else, huh? Nobody noticed the obvious clash between those T-shirts and your assumption that teenage girls are now the most important people on the planet? How come “saving yourself” is a bad thing if those girls’ goals are to earn something, be it emotional fulfilment or a monetary compensation, from delivering healthy babies? To follow their logic, if you’re an amateur, you want your sexual experience to be a good one. If you’re a pro, you’d want the best possible deal. We had Lib praise Melody for keeping her legs crossed and keeping an eye on the purity prize (GAG!) and we have Ventura who calls her bump “Perfect” (DOUBLE GAG!) and then mock Melody for not bumping with Zen, even though everyone in that room knows why Zen can’t bump with anyone.

Melody then goes to talk about the bead necklaces girls wear – apparently, they get a bed per trimester, and then one for each delivery – and how the fact that Pros can afford diamonds while the Ams can only get rhinestones was one of the reasons why there was tension and a need for the union to be formed. And yet, the fact that nobody has yet introduced a “Rhinestones or no stones” rule for everyone makes me think that somebody on that committee isn’t really interested in eliminating differences as they are in insuring a temporary truce so that they can achieve their chosen political end.

Oh, sorry, we’re still talking about YA, right?

“The new man brands are getting too much attention. We’re all seen the Toxin ads…”

The room explodes with everyone’s studs for hire.

“For serious. How hot is Phoenix?”

“I want me some Finch!”

“Jondoe! Omigod, Jondoe!”

“Yes, they’re all major stiffies,” Ventura yells over the chatter. “But it shouldn’t be about them! It should be about us! You can’t PREGG without the…”

“EGG!” shout Tulie Peters (sophomore, amateur, thirteen weeks) and Dyanna Merril (senior, professional, fourteen weeks) in usion. They obviously practiced this call-and-response before the meeting. I have to give Ventura credit for getting an amateur and professional to chant together in the spirit of bipartisan pregging. I’d also like to point out that you can’t PREGG without the SPERM either, but highlighting such contradictions in Ventura’s logic would go over like a raging case of haemorrhoids.

McCafferty, Megan, “Bumped”, page 138, Harper Collins, Kindle Edition

And that, Melody, is why you will never excel in politics. Passionately standing up for your convictions has been a staple of politics before they were even called that, and if you need to play dirty to use your opponent’s rhetoric against them, then so be it!

Granted, shaking the boat does not always work, but here, Melody has a very valid point, and she has the potential to succeed, since her audience contains several fans of those so-called man brands. The fact that she doesn’t is consistent with her character (someone who doesn’t start conflict because she’s afraid of confrontation) but is also the reason why Melody lost this debate before it even began.

She puts on her serious life-or-death face.

“I know you are all aware of the unfortunate circumstances that led to the dismissal of our former president.” (…) “We live in frightening times, girls, and we need to be role models, not reneggers. (…) It is our duty to work together as professionals and amateurs to promote positive pregging for the sake of all the parental units who desperately want our deliveries. Do you appreciate how lucky we are to live in a true melting pot of races, ethnicities and cultures? In the United States, deliveries of every colour and creed are valued. Did you know that if we lived in the Middle East, or parts of Europe, we would be forced to pregg with members of our own kind to keep the gene pool pure?” A ripple of gasps moves through the group. “I know. It’s shocking to think that the government would try to stick its nose in our ladyparts.”

McCafferty, Megan, “Bumped”, page 141, Harper Collins, Kindle Edition

You mean, more than it already is? Didn’t this book start with a quote from the President of the United States? Isn’t the government working right now to limit women’s access to birth control and abortions? How much, exactly, is this not interference?

Second, “ladyparts” is a pretty transphobic term, coming from someone who insists that teenage girls are the most important people on the planet. Would you like to amend that statement to “teenage girls with functional uteri?” Or how about “real women”, to ham that message in clearer? Then again, this was never about the joys of sex, is it?

Finally, I notice that the only people running for this post are Pros. Both Ventura and Melody’s matches have been hand-picked for the best result, and in Melody’s case, the sponsors insisted on the purity of the gene pool anyway. Shoko and Raimundo had a “surprising” bidding war for their delivery, considering they weren’t marketable enough before the result was visible, and they both have Spaniard names. Amateurs rely on a post-delivery offer that depends on what the parental units are willing to offer. So no, I really can’t see where this “melting pot” comes in hand. The only difference here is that capitalism and monetary incentives give the illusion of choice, while the Middle East and Europe dispense with that bullshit from the get-go.

And Ventura manages to spin it like it’s some kind of racial empowerment.

The woman is a born politician!

“Our mixmatchy preggs are the best way to promote peace around the world. Who are you going to hate if you have blood from every continent running through you?” She casts a sly glance in my direction. “That is, unless you’re like Melody here, who’s so pure no swimmers are worthy of her womb… Just scamming!”

McCafferty, Megan, “Bumped”, page 141, Harper Collins, Kindle Edition

And that is from the one calling her pregg “Perfect”; Who is waxing eloquent about the prowess of her donor.

As for world peace through racial equality, I’m pretty sure you’ll quickly find some other reason to hate others. War, as we know, is very profitable, and we can’t dispense with it, or else we might actually have to rely on diplomacy to secure natural resources, or get humanitarian aid when the government can’t handle things. Also, you can convert to religions, sexual orientation and gender-identity still exist and diverge, and classism isn’t going anywhere. Also, don’t forget the main cause of tension Melody mentioned in this chapter – the fact that parental units are willing to pay a higher price if they model their own baby, rather than take the risk with something that some amateurs randomly threw together. Do you think that’s incidental?

Markets depend on competition to drive the prices. And pregging is a market, regardless of how the conception happened. If amateurs and professionals dispensed with their rivalry and demanded equal opportunity for all, and some kind of price control, everyone profiting from this endeavour – from Fun Bump makers to RePro agents – will take the hit. Tensions will rise between surrogettes and industry, industry and parental units, parental units and surrogettes, and someone in the government will have the brilliant idea to play Taylor and suggest mandatory inseminations.

I mean, duh!

“Whether you’re an amateur,” –she pauses to look meaningfully at Celine and Tulie—“or a Professional Surrogette,” –she stops again to lock eyes with Dyanna and a captivated Shoko—“our nation needs all our preggs, girls, if we have any chance of reclaiming our undisputed status as the most powerful country in the world well into the twenty-first century and beyond. If we hesitate,” –and now she slowly turns her head in my direction—“our multicultural American society, a shining beacon of tolerance and empathy around the world, will die. I mean, like, rilly, rilly die.”

McCafferty, Megan, “Bumped”, page 142-143, Harper Collins, Kindle Edition

Hey, teenage girl, are you in possession of a functioning uterus? Well, guess what? You need to start working towards pushing out as many babies as possible, regardless of whether you have the monetary means and emotional maturity to look after them, and if nobody is willing to pay you for your troubles, you must still do it, because it would be a betrayal to the nation and world peace everywhere!

Ventura’s chosen her ambitions well.

Even before the votes are cast – all but two (thanks Shoko) in Ventura’s favour – there’s no doubt in my mind that I’m rilly, rilly, humped.”

McCafferty, Megan, “Bumped”, page 143, Harper Collins, Kindle Edition

Yes, Melody. All of you rilly, rilly are.

Note: Image via BookLikes.

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