recently finished rereading Megan McCafferty‘s Bumped, and reading Thumped for the first time. The series follows two twins, Melody and Harmony, who are separated at birth. The twins live in a dystopian world where a virus renders humans infertile after their 18th birthday. Teenage females are prized for their ovaries, and teenage males are only as good as their genes.
In reading this series, I couldn’t help but find connections to our own world and the attention the media places on women’s fertility and sexuality. As the He for She movement continues to gain momentum, and as celebrities are increasingly more public about the sexism they encounter from the media (e.g. #askhermore campaign), sexuality and sexism are taking center stage in a big way.
But are we doing enough, or are we headed for a world similar to the one McCafferty has created?
Certainly McCafferty has taken this theme to the extreme, but is she really so far off from where we are today? Naturally, this starts to enter dangerous territory. Who am I to say that teenage girls should not reveal themselves online (snapchat, etc.) or act promiscuous? Ultimately, it is their decision, as it is the decision of any female to show her body in whatever way she wants. But as a society, are we teaching girls that their worth is measured only by their sexuality? Are young girls made to feel that, to be likable, they have to bare it all?
McCafferty uses the concept of brand to refer to her characters’ clout on social media. Members of this society are constantly looking for ways to improve their brand – for some this involves attending sex-parties. For others, like Melody, remaining a virgin is part of her brand, but only until she is sold off to a compatible “donor.” In a world where we are constantly looking for the next great selfie, or obsessively checking our social sites to see how many like we can get, personal brand is as alive in the real world as it is McCafferty’s world.
Are we losing a part of ourselves in our race for more likes? Have we become nothing more than our social profiles?
I feel like we are at a pivotal point in time – if we do not make a stand about the portrayal of women and the dominance of social media in defining who we are (problems that I see as being interrelated), I fear we are on our way towards making McCafferty’s word a reality.
While Bumped and Thumped are works of fiction, they teach very real, very applicable values.