Stirrup Queens Book Tour: Children of Men

Welcome to this installment of the Stirrup Queens book tour!  Per the rules of the tour, I’ve selected five questions from the list and you can see my answers below.  To find the rest of the participating reviewers, go here.  Now on with the show!

3. One of the story’s responses to mass infertility was that couples stopped having sex since there didn’t seem to be any point in it. How has IF affected your sex life with your partner? Did you have different experiences at different times along the way?

I’ll be honest: this was my question, and it was inspired by all of the different experiences infertile bloggers have described.  Some couples seem to lose interest in sex when it becomes obvious that it won’t end up in a baby, and some seem to take more interest in it for the same reason. 

For us, sex has always been important in and of itself.  Manly could not care less whether or not it’s going to produce a baby or not; for him it’s having a connection with me that matters.  For me, it’s more stressful.  I’m the one who has to keep track of dates and when we NEED to, and when it doesn’t really matter if we do or don’t.  I really do enjoy sex more when we’re not in the 2ww — and I’m not sure if that’s because of the hormones, or because of the stress of waiting.  I think it’s more of the latter, because I was much less hung up over sex when we were taking a break over the holidays.

4. Do you think this was based on James’ own experiences with infertility? Also, what did you think of the fact that Julian was a religious person and became pregnant. Is religion her solution, as it were, to infertility? Which is probably two questions…

I do not think that this book was based on James’ personal experience with infertility.  To me, the IF seemed to be a plot device more than anything else, a backdrop for the story about power.  Part of the reason I believe this is because most of us who have gone through IF know how much it fucking hurts, how much pain is involved.  The narrator, man or not, seemed to care less that HE Personally was infertile.  And all of the craziness that went on in the book was attributed to women, women who weren’t actually infertile!  I can’t believe that an entire planet full of men could have been so disassociated with their own problem.

I’ve talked earlier about my beliefs about IF and religion; you can find that entry here.

6. Would you be able to go through all that Julian went through in order to have her baby in peace and safety?

If I hadn’t gone through IF, I might have had the notion that having the ideal birth experience was worth anything to me.  But now that I’ve had to go through doctors and nurses and drugs and ultrasounds and all the crap that comes along with IF, I just want a healthy baby, no matter what the birth experience ends up being like. 

And if I was in Julian’s place, I would have milked that situation for all it was worth.  Being the mother of the only baby on the planet?  I guess I’m a selfish bitch, but I would have made damn sure that I got everything out of it that I could squeeze from the government, media, etc.

12. In speaking of Theo’s preparation to attend the Quietus, the author says, “It had been his habit all his life to devise small pleasures as palliatives to unpleasant duties.” Do you have any habits or coping mechanisms that have a soothing effect on days that you expect to be unpleasant?

Oh, yes!  My favorite thing to do to make myself feel better is to go shopping after an unpleasant appointment.  And it doesn’t have to be for clothes or jewelry; just going to the grocery store and picking out something to make my favorite dinner is calming.  A lot of times I’ll go to the craft store, or through TJ Maxx or Target and just look.  It’s not so much spending money that makes me feel better, as it is taking time by myself and doing something only for me.  It’s enjoying the beauty of nice things and daydreaming about how I would put them together to show off their quality. 

The other thing that I indulge with is a mocha from Starbucks.  They are so rich and so overpriced that I have trouble just going out and buying one for no reason.  But as an occasional treat, they’re perfect.

13. Once Rolf discovers the truth about his child, in his anguish, he rubs his skin raw against the bark of a tree. Do you think he is mourning his wife’s adulturous affair or his new-found knowledge of his own infertility (since he thought he had impregnanted his wife)?

I don’t think he was mourning either of those.  I think he had already planned ahead to how much power he was going to have as the only fertile male on the planet and was in anguish over losing that power (even though he never actually had it).


Now I’m going to add another question for discussion because I forgot about it when I sent Mel my original question.  In the book, there was absolutely no mention of using cloning as a way to save the human race.  Despite all the moral objections to the practice of cloning humans, do you think that it would be allowed if there was no other way to save the human species or would it still be considered an “abomination”?

Edited to add: I got to thinking about cloning after reading the sci-fi short story Houston, Houston, Do You Read? by James Tiptree, Jr.  (whose real name was Alice Sheldon).  Written in 1976, it is another story about universal male infertility — but the human race saves itself by cloning females.  A very good comparative read for Children of Men if you can find it, and only about 50 pages long.


11 thoughts on “Stirrup Queens Book Tour: Children of Men

  1. Just for your last question, I really don’t think it would work. Cloning entire human beings would result in the same situation that currently plagues domestic livestock and pets, which is a limited gene pool, and poor outcomes for those involved. Right now, if damaged animals are born, (which is the norm among purebreds right now, rather horrifyingly) they are killed, and not allowed to reproduce. That’s what inbreeding (the closest we have to cloning right now) does.

    Cloning may work someday for growing individual organs, for people to use if their organ wears out or is damaged, but reproduction using two people’s genes is actually the best way to avoid genetic disasters and ensure a healthy stock of traits are passed on.

    I can’t see it ever working properly. There may be scientists who disagree? Any thoughts from anyone?

  2. It’s an interesting thought–the cloning one. I could also be that it wasn’t on PD James’ mind as it is on ours because she wrote the book in 1992. But it is a good question–years later and you’d think the scientists would be working on that route after creating new fertility treatments failed 🙂

    I like what you said about Rolf–I hadn’t thought about that. The moaning coming from the loss of power.

  3. My opinion – if cloning were available you’d have a vocal minority who objected for scientific or ideological reasons. But there would be a figurative line around the corner of people begging, “Clone me first!” Since clones are sterile I think, that wouldn’t exactly solve the problem, but it would certainly provide for some notion of “posterity.”

  4. Interesting question about the cloning. My guess is that it would still leave the problem of infertile males, and an eventual thinning out of the gene pool.

    I love your answer to number 6 – I’m with you on that one.

  5. I liked your comments on the Quietus – it has taken me almost 3 years of parenthood to realize that I still do need time for myself and the things I enjoy. That I deserve some time to nurture my soul.

    I forgot how to do that in being a 1st time mom and also TTC a second child – the “older” generation has always told me that there will be time for self-nurturing later on. But, man, do they have it wrong!

  6. As to cloing… I do not know about sterility but I do know that cloning causes a lot of DNA damage. This leads to shorter lifespan and higher likeliness of disease or health issues.

    I don’t necessarily have a ‘moral’ issue about cloning but I think there is a huge amount of research that would need to occur in order to make cloning a viable option.

    Thanks for a new and interesting question!!

  7. Really interesting answers!

    As for the last question, perhaps that would be the “tipping point” toward more work on human cloning. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but that would be a possible solution to global infertility. And I agree, it’s a long, long way to go from where we are now to get there.

  8. I too didn’t think about Rolf’s reaction being because of his loss of power. But I think that makes sense!
    Love your answer to #6 too. 🙂

  9. Ha! I laughed at your note that “I can’t believe that an entire planet full of men could have been so disassociated with their own problem.” Because that lack of address by James of the men and their infertility really troubled me, but you summed it up beautifully, here.

    I think IF does prepare us for birth in totally different ways than if conceiving came easily, and because of this I’m much less surprised by Julian’s insistence than I might have otherwise been. If nothing else, I’ve seen the inside of malfunctioning hospitals, dealt with clueless residents, struggled with overscheduled doctors–I’m pretty clear that you have to work, sometimes fight, for the birth you want. I’m not talking about some overromanticized, idealized birth. But one that I’m a full partner in. Because all of this “crap” you mention tends to separate us so much from our own bodies and wills. And this is one thing I’m glad of for the whole IF experience (talk about lemons out of lemonade…), that I’m going to try my damndest not to have the birth taken away from me by overmedicalization (even if that means taking meds, but that that’s a decision _I_ get to come to rather than one made for me) and by not being there as full,fighting partner.

    I’m interested in your cloning question, because one of the most depressing parts of the book for me was the idea that we might be right where we are now with regards to infertility diagnosis and treatment. I have to say I’ve actually looked forward to the day when a lot of our “unsolvable” or indiagnosible fertility issues are simply addressed. I’ve always wanted to believe, somehow, that the next generation, that a child of mine wouldn’t HAVE to suffer through what I’ve gone through with infertility and loss. I’m not sure where cloning fits in, but I certainly hope medical science gets off its collective ass in the next 25 years.

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