YA and Reproductive Rights
Over at Slate they’re talking about how young adult dystopias are dealing with reproductive rights. Here’s a snippet from their article:
Welcome to the future, when condoms are illegal, orphaned teens are forced to bear children, and 16 is the mandated age to get knocked up. Is this what America will look like 25 years from now? In several recent post-apocalyptic young adult novels, young women aren’t battling to the death in a televised game or hiding from Big Brother. They’re fighting for control of their wombs…
Teens have so little power over politics, laws, and even their hormones that the loss of reproductive freedom is a particularly terrifying addition to the list of things they cannot control. With 944 provisions related to reproductive health and rights introduced in 45 legislatures in January through March 2012 alone, any apprehension that adolescent women might have about their reproductive rights and the future would be justified.
It’s impossible to predict what kind of world young women reading these novels 10, 15, 25 years from now will inhabit. Best-case scenario? Teens will be both amused and appalled by the idea of a society in which women’s bodies are not their own. Worst case? They’ll be living in one.
The three books the article deals with are Bumped and Thumped by Megan McCafferty, Eve by Anna Carey, and Partials by Dan Wells.
An important one left out is Wither. It’s world runs along similar lines to these other books, with a genetic disease rendering human beings dead after only 20-25 years of life. Wither’s (and Fever’s) stance on this issues focuses more on the idea of how much you can make of a life that only lasts 20 years, but having children, and how many you will have, is also a big issue of the book.
Slate is certainly correct though in saying that this topic for YA is not likely to go away. With the battle over reproduction and women’s rights still raging through this country, no one can know what our future as women and mothers might hold. And maybe what we need to make that a better future is a glimpse of the horror that it could be.