Saturday, April 4, 2015

Consent: Yet Another Concept RTCs Don't Understand

Hello and Happy Easter weekend everybody! Don't know what all everyone has planned for this holiday--I know I have readers of all backgrounds--but as for me, I'm going to do my annual viewing of The Last Temptation of Christ because I just love that movie so much. So much that I'm starting to wonder if I should put on a suit and go door to door promoting it like some kind of film student version of a Jehovah's Witness. Again, all the people who were up in arms about that film clearly never saw it, because it is a well-crafted and deeply reverent film. It has great respect for Jesus Christ. But then again, usually the best films about faith and God are usually made by the eeeevil secular directors like Martin Scorsese. Funny how that usually works.

Anyway, before we begin, I thought I should clarify a few of my views regarding adoption. I haven't gotten any hate comments or emails, but I always feel a need to nip those in the bud, just in case.

I am not opposed to adoption. In many circumstances, adoption is the best choice for the child in question. Like I said, my issue with the arrangement regarding Cheryl's child is one of consent. Rather than talking with her and giving her the necessary information needed to make an informed decision, Vicki basically made all the decisions for Cheryl at a moment when Cheryl was pregnant and scared and not entirely sure what to do. Vicki just up and decided of all the adults they'd met in their travels that Tom and Josey Fogarty would be the perfect people to raise the baby and she basically made said arrangements while Cheryl was still pregnant and with very little input from Cheryl. I could also point out that the last time Vicki had thought about the Fogartys, this series was in the single digits, so you have to wonder why, of all the adult couples she'd met, Vicki decided they were the ones who should raise the baby.

But anyway, like I said, my issue with this whole thing is consent. If Cheryl had been the one to decide on adoption (without any added pressure/lectures from the RTCs), if Cheryl had had a choice in who she wanted to adopt her baby and chose the Fogartys, I'd totally be on the side of the Fogartys and the others. I would think that Cheryl was wrong to take back her child. But like I said, since she never was given much of a choice and you just know the Tribbles have no issue with emotional blackmail (or in other words, going for someone's emotional vulnerabilities, though you know the Tribbles would bring in God on air support to really drive the message home), like I said, I'm totally on her side. After all, even under the best of circumstances, adoption is a painful event, even if the birthmother weighed out all her options and decided this was the best choice. No matter what, pregnancy and childbirth is a rough thing to go through, physically and emotionally, and the way the Christian Right tries to pretend like it's not, act like the birthmother can just drop off the kid and pick up where she left off with her life, is pretty damn sick.

Especially when, as many will tell you, Christian-Run adoption agencies have a pretty skeevy history of preying on other people's desperation by masking what is essentially a child-selling operation as adoption.

Like I said before, I know given Ellanjay's politics and love of hierarchy, that Cheryl will probably be made to see that Vicki is a Main Character; therefore she should obey Vicki's orders without question. After which she'll give back her child and go back to being a good, silent obedient member of the collective.

Yeah, sorry about the lecture, but felt there was stuff that needed to be said. Now let's get to it.

Vicki suggests they call Wanda aka that lady who helped deliver Cheryl's baby, but apparently Wanda :gasp: :choke: doesn't have a phone so they can't. And I thought Wanda was a good RTC. So they send an urgent email instead.

While they're bouncing along the back roads, trying to find Cheryl, Vicki starts reflecting on her life. I'm going to guess all this was thrown in as yet another attempt at an Author's Savings Throw, but like all the others they've tried, it doesn't really work. They keep trying to convince us that the Tribbles are totally suffering and on the verge of PTSD, but stubbing your toe seems more painful than the apocalypse they've presented.

For those trying to make sense of the screwed-up time scale in this series, Vicki mentions that her 19th birthday came and went and since she was 14 at the beginning of the series, that means we're five years in. The end is in sight, people!

Vicki thinks about how before all this happened, her goals for when she became an adult were mostly about someday going to college so she can escape the trailer park and settle down with a nice guy in the suburbs. Of course, she knew this wasn't likely going to happen even before the Rapture (her parents didn't have the money to send her to school and she wasn't scholarship material).

If you guessed from here, Vicki decides to indulge in a little self-flagellation by laying into herself for being an ordinary teenage girl, again, congratulations on being familiar with Ellanjay tropes.

Vicki wasn’t proud of the way she had lived before the disappearances. She had made bad choices in friends and in the way she lived. She had put partying above everything, and she knew she had to tell Judd about some of those things. Maybe he had skeletons too.

Before the vanishings, Vicki hadn’t thought of her life in the long term. If something sounded fun, she did it. If she thought something would make her happy, she’d try it. If someone suggested a tattoo or a piercing, she only thought of what people would say the next day at school.

If anyone ever doubted that Ellanjay see all women as either Madonnas or Whores, this paragraph should be enough to sway them. Before anybody says anything, I'm fully aware of all the dangers of teenage girls running wild. As many will point out, they could get pregnant, they could get an STD, or they could OD or who-knows-what. To say nothing of the many dangers associated with getting homemade tattoos/piercings (because either Vicki had one of her friends do it to her with a sewing needle or went to an extremely sketchy shop that didn't ask for parental permission). But like I said, I'm all about consent and giving kids the tools needed to make the right choice. Scare tactics work in the short-term, but eventually they're going to meet someone who did X yet didn't die and they're going to start to wonder if anything their parents told them is true. You can only browbeat and keep kids in the dark for so long. Eventually something will slip past you.

Because believe it or not, RTCs, there is a middle way. You can educate your kids on how to make tough choices regarding issues like Sex and drugs without using scare tactics. In fact, study after study shows that scare tactics end up backfiring most of the time and make your kids more likely to go down on any hobo they meet, rather than less. Okay, I admit that the hobo example is a bit of an exaggeration, but that's how they think. Somehow they think if kids know about sex, they'll immediately start doing any person they can find.

:sighs: Yeah, I know y'all are going to hate me for foisting this upon you, but I can't help but think that just about any form of education is better than the kind given by Purity Balls and the like. I'm sure RTCs everywhere would be horrified by the prospect of their daughters reading Judy Blume's Forever... but I consider its attitude of "Sex is a big decision and you should really think about it and take precautions before doing it" a helluva lot healthier than anything in RTC lit.

Vicki goes on to think about God has changed her over the years, turning her from a wild party girl who did things like :gasp: kiss boys she wasn't married to, to a Sanctimonious little Church Lady-in-training*. She then thinks of a quote that inspires her. Surprisingly enough, it isn't a verse from the Bible, but that just makes it more difficult to figure out who originally said it and under what context, because I believe context matters. I tried Google, but that just got me one result: the book I'm currently reading. So I'm going to let my readers take a shot at this and see if they have better luck. Here's the quote:

“The world has not yet seen what God can do with one person who is totally committed to him.”

Anyway, Vicki finally stops alternating between patting herself on the back and self-flagellation and we finally get back to the business at hand. They're getting closer to Wanda's house but they still haven't heard from her. Ellanjay try to inject some suspense by having them notice a GC squad car following them, but it is quickly dissipated as the squad car passes them without even seeing them.

Mark is like "Why would Cheryl do this?" and Marshall says something along the lines of "She's having an emotional breakdown and not thinking clearly." Mark then asks whether that means Cheryl is no longer a Believer. I suppose I should be irritated by Mark's question, but I find Vicki's response to be far more rage-inducing.

Finally, Vicki broke the silence. “God hasn’t abandoned her. Cheryl’s turned her back on what she knows is true and good. I think she’ll come around—”

I suppose it's charitable that Vicki hasn't leapt to "Cheryl is a tool of Satan" but that "turned her back" line...yeah, I think a more accurate way of putting it would be that "Cheryl has arbitrarily decided that she's a Main Character capable of making her own decisions, rather than blindly swallowing the dogma we've carefully prepared for her."

Tom is all "What if they give my child the Mark?" and Vicki thinks about Chang Wong (who received it against his will) and prays that Zod will forgive a child for having one, before saying, "We'll find her." Yeah, I could point out that Cheryl hasn't expressed any signs of having forsaken RTCianity in favor of Nicky--she just wants her child back--but given their politics, Ellanjay probably feel that disobeying the dictates of a Main Character is equal to pledging allegiance to Satan.

After a lot of driving, Marshall and Tom get out and decide to search on foot. And the chapter ends with this:

A child cried out, and Vicki recognized Ryan. The officers had Cheryl against the front of the van, her hands cuffed behind her. A little farther up the street two officers laughed and pointed at something on the ground. Vicki crawled five feet to her left and gasped. Marshall and Tom lay facedown in the street, their hands behind them.

But for those of you wondering what horrific punishment awaits that terrible whore, Cheryl, I'm afraid you'll have to wait a few weeks. Sorry for all the lectures, but I felt stuff needed to be said. I promise to try to be funnier next time.

*Sometimes I find myself wondering if RTCs realize that the Church Lady from Saturday Night Live is supposed to be a joke, not a role model. Given that they seem to be incapable of noticing irony (just look at how Phyllis Schlafly has made a career out of saying women shouldn't have careers)or that outsiders might see a father going out on a date with his daughter, giving her a ring, and saying that any man who wants to marry her has to go through him first, to be incredibly creepy, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Happy Easter, Mouse!

In the Strange Quote you mention, is "him" capitalised in the source? I remember reading the first of the adult books and being puzzled that "God", "He", "Him", and "His" were never capitalised. Is this an RTC quirk/convention/whatever?

Mouse said...

I think it is capitalized in the source. When I started snarking this series, it was with a physical copy of the book, which meant there were more opportunities for me to screw up when quoting material. Eventually I got the eBook version which significantly cuts back on that; all I have to do is copy and paste. So chances are "him" wasn't capitalized in the book. But then again, I don't think there's an agreed upon convention regarding whether to capitalize Him or His when referring to God. Some do, some don't.

Firedrake said...

A good RTC has probably picked up three or four phones from the Raptured, just to be on the safe side.

I think that the problem with "don't" as a principle is that, by its nature, it cannot be accompanied by "here's how to do it safely if you do". And because teenagers will always have sex, they go into it without basic knowledge.

There's a related problem, which is that if the first step is a terrible crime, you're much more likely to take the second step because you've already done the thing. (If the first drink is the sin, you might as well keep drinking once you've started.) It's a bit like the mediƦval phenomenon: once a peasant had done something (fairly minor) for which he would be executed, he might well go off settling old scores until he was caught.

The line may be a misquote from Dwight L. Moody: "The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God's help, I aim to be that man." ("committed" in some versions; I can't immediately locate a canonical source.)

Mouse said...

That's true, Firedrake. That's one of the many issues associated with the RTC approach to sex education. Aside from the obvious issue of "what if your kid is raped? What are they supposed to think after all those lessons on virginity?" I wonder about how disappointed they must be on their wedding night when after so much fuss, they finally get to do it. I can picture them being like, "The hell?! This is what my pastor and parents made such a big deal about."