Gather the Daughters

I just finished reading another good book. I really enjoyed this one. Even tho it was more than a little upsetting. Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed is a futuristic novel about an isolated island where the descendants of a small group of men have survived the war- ravaged, burning wastelands the rest of the world has become.

After decades of life on the island, the people have created a fairly stable community, even if they have to live without most of the things we take for granted. Not just electricity, and all the nice things we can have because of it, but even simple things like a decent piece of paper.

They’ve kept an elite group of 10 “wanderers” who, like the original 10 founders of the island, can leave the island at will. No one else is permitted to leave, at all, ever.

The wanderers search the rest of the world for useful items (and possible immigrants) and report back on the state of the world. It’s never good.

Culture on the island is based on the twisted religious ideology of the original 10 founders.

“When a daughter submits to her father’s will, when a wife submits to her husband, when a woman is a helper to a man, we are worshipping the ancestors and their vision.” 

It’s pretty much a paradise for the male population. Not so much for the women, although most accept it, one way or another.

This book reminds me of The Handmaids Tale. The same bleak outlook for society, the same lack of freedom and autonomy, the same religious based repression of (especially) women.

In Gather the Daughters, the men get especially ‘lucky’. They get to sleep with their daughters. At least until a certain age. More and more “defective” babies are born (and most are killed soon after), but the solution is to bring in fresh blood in the form of acceptable immigrants instead of reconsidering the ‘holy’ edicts of the founders.

Of course the women have some misgivings about the situation, but they keep silent. Previous experience with ‘shaming’ has taught them to protect themselves as well as they can. Young girls have no other experience to go by, so they accept these goings on as ‘normal’, at least until they start growing up when a few start questioning their situation.

When they enter puberty and become ‘women’, they are expected to marry and begin producing healthy offspring (but no more than 2- population must be controlled on an island of limited resources). Woe betide those who object in any way!

It’s a frustrating and sad story. I wanted to wring the necks of the ‘Fathers’ every time one of them opened their mouths. Yes, there were a couple of decent ones, but because they were in such a small minority they kept their ideas to themselves too.

I was so proud of Janey. I felt encouraged by Janey, who starves herself in order to delay menstruation. She fights to the death to avoid being forced into becoming nothing but a breed cow. Leading some of the other girls into self exile on the beach. They build shelters and hunt for clams for a few short days before a disastrous sickness hits the community and brings most of the girls home in an attempt to help their families.

I wanted to cry for all the girls (and women) on the island. For their lack of choices, for their lack of opportunity, for their lack of freedom, for their lack of information. Their lives have been stifled and cut short in almost every way.

It angers me that so many people still consider a womans’ life to be worthless unless she is submitting to some man and popping out babies at every opportunity. It sickens me that so many people think women are put on earth only to ‘serve’ men. We are nothing but sex objects, to be ‘seen and not heard’, to be somehow ‘pure’ receptacles for a mans sperm whenever he feels like depositing it somewhere warm!

It depresses me to know that the stories in this book are not just fiction. Things like this are happening to women and girls right now. Not in some remote, make believe island at some point in the future, but HERE and NOW.

Thank goodness it’s no longer supported by the majority of the population here in America, if it was it would probably be made into a ‘law’ (since so many people believe we are a democracy instead of the Constitutional republic that we are in reality).

BUT IT IS still happening here and all over the world regardless. Of course, there are still places where the community DOES still support these barbarous customs.

All I can do is hope people will somehow come to see there is a better way than to use half of the human race as nothing but breed cows and unpaid labor. I do support various charities to help women and girls improve their lives and take advantage of all the real opportunities to LIVE their lives, to follow their dreams.

One example is Women for Women. They help support and train women who have suffered through war zones, rapes, families killed, beatings, homes and crops destroyed. Women for Women helps with emotional support and gives them training to help these women make a new start on their lives. I wish I could do more.

I can’t change the world (tho I try), but I think I can help at least a few individuals change their lives for the better.

Advertisements

A Speck in the Sea

I’ve been reading some good books lately. A Speck in the Sea by lobstermen John Aldridge and Anthony Sosinski is one of them.

Subtitled “A story of survival and rescue”, it tells the story of how John fell overboard late one night and the subsequent search and rescue efforts.

I’ve always loved reading stories of disasters and survival. I like to see how people react to unusual circumstances and imagine what I might do if something happened to me. I read about nuclear wars and EMP attacks, alien invasions, the zombie apocalypse, global pandemics, environmental destruction and the more likely (for me personally) disaster at sea stories.

A Speck in the Sea is one of those.

As the Anna Mary motored out from Montauk late one night, John stood watch while his parters slept below. Instead of waking them up as planned, he decided to let them sleep a little longer and started to prepare for the fishing grounds instead.

One small ‘oops’ and he was over the side. In the middle of the night. In the North Atlantic. With nothing but the clothes on his back. With no one aware of his situation.

The book does a great job of telling the story from both sides: John tells what he’s thinking and doing while he’s bobbing around in the cold dark ocean. Anthony and the Coast Guard tell us what’s going on as they discover John’s missing and their reaction. The entire community gets involved. Yes, they would. The seafaring communities are still like that.

As a fisherman myself, with a brother who’s still trying to make a living out there, I could immediately relate. I admire John’s resourcefulness and will to survive. I’m not so sure I would react like he did. I have a much more pessimistic outlook on life. Still, it’s nice to know that it IS possible to survive.

If you’re into sea stories, or in how to survive the unexpected, you might like this book. I recommend it. 🙂

SoCS: Short

This post is for Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. It’s Sunday as I write this, but the events I’m going to write about happened yesterday so I’m counting it. 😉 And I don’t think it’s going to be “short“, so consider it the opposite of short. 🙂

I went down to the beach  yesterday for the St Patricks Day parade. The weather was overcast with a light rain. I was late leaving home and thought I might get stuck in traffic, but because of the weather I made it in time for the judging without any trouble at all.

I got a few photos before it started raining hard and I had to run for cover. I headed to the Jetty Shack to dry off and watch the parade through the window.

I was sitting at the bar, enjoying a yummy Patty Melt (they make the best ones around) and listening to the surrounding conversations. I joined in (where maybe I shouldn’t have).

I can’t really remember how it started, but something to do with how young people don’t have any respect. It moved on to how society has encouraged people to do things that are illegal and cause harm.  Continue reading

A to Z: Reading

Today’s post for the A to Z Challenge is: reading.

I’ve always loved to read. When I was a kid, I used to read everything I could get my hands on. I read the entire children’s section of the local library (and plenty of the adults). I read the encyclopedia of animals I got for a present. I read my fathers magazines. I would even read the labels at the table if I had nothing else. 😉

My brother is the complete opposite. I don’t think he’s picked up a book in years. Last I heard he checked out a couple of comic books, but that’s about it. I can hardly believe how little he reads and how different we are in that respect. Our parents were both voracious readers. I don’t know how my brother feels, but I’m sure glad I followed in their footsteps. At least in that respect.

It constantly amazes me how few people like to actually read these days (not to mention real books). People love their electronic gadgets. They’re on the phone, iPod, computer, electronic games, etc, I see it all the time. I rarely see someone peacefully sitting and enjoying a good book anymore.

I always bring something to read with me anywhere I go. It helps a lot when standing in line, or put on hold, or waiting in the Drs office. Thank god for e-readers! I can bring more with me when I ship out to work now- maybe even enough to last the whole hitch without overloading my luggage allowance!

I’m so glad I can relax with a good book once I get off watch. I can go to my tiny little cabin and escape to some insanely wonderful adventure. I can travel back in time to the world of the dinosaurs. Or forward to live on Mars. I can become a spacefarer, or a zombie hunter, a vampire or an elf, a beautiful heiress, a swashbuckling pirate, an arctic explorer, or anything I can imagine.

I can escape reality for a while and let my mind play.

I wish more people were able to enjoy reading as much as I do. I almost feel sorry for people who don’t read, they’re missing out on so much. The books are out there, just waiting for readers. You can even get them for free! 🙂

Have you read any good books lately?

Do you prefer real books, or e-readers?

I’ve been rather distracted the last couple of weeks with all the time I’ve spent trying to deal with my computer issues (it’s still not fixed), but here’s what I’ve been reading in April…

Magazines: National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Lonely Planet, AFAR, Professional Mariner, Workboat, Seaways, Sea History, First, Woman’s Day, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Money, International Living, Fund Your Life Overseas and Reason.

Books: Adrift, Know Your Boat, Born Evil, Oil Painting Techniques, Sand In My Bra, Paint It, Promise of Paradise, Bluewater Handbook, NOS4A2, and still working on Years Best Science Fiction, Horror (the best of the year 2006) and Off the Tourist Trail. 🙂

I really do have a never-ending list!

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I’d like to See Turned Into Movies or TV Series

Reblogging this.
Let’s see what people come up with. It’s always interesting to see what other people like enough to really want to share it. My comments were posted on Part Time Monsters post.

A Word A Week: Rainbow

This weeks Word a Week Challenge from the Word in Your Ear Blog is: Rainbow.

Here is one of my rainbow pictures. I took this one a couple of years ago, when I was working on the tuna boat. We sometimes went in to Tarawa (Kiribati/Gilbert Islands) to unload. We would tie up to a reefer ship in the anchorage off Betio (the main town on the atoll) and have a couple of days to get ashore there.

For such a small place, in the middle of nowhere, Tarawa had some interesting history. Some of the biggest battles of WWII were fought over these islands. There are still a lot of military ruins/wrecks/artifacts from when the Americans were fighting the Japanese there (Battle of Tarawa).

I’m not really into military history or how wars are fought, but I do understand the strategy of having those island ‘stepping stones’ for the US during WWII. The US still keeps an eye on things there. When I was there once, I met up with a US ship doing some ‘PR’ work throughout the Pacific Islands. A group of military people were cleaning up the war memorial and sent a medical team to help out the locals.

At this point in time, Tarawa has gone back to it’s sleepy small town ways. I really enjoyed myself there. The people were friendly and a lot of fun. A couple of years after I stopped working over there, I read a book “Sex Lives of Cannibals” by J. Maarten Troost. I highly recommend it. I laughed SO hard. Yes, it really IS like that there. 🙂