Xx, by Angela Chadwick, has been described as a feminist dystopia. It’s not, really. It’s just our current society plus a new medical advancement. Although I can see how watching the ugly machinations of a discriminatory media frenzy unfold could be interpreted as dystopian fiction.
Those of us who lived through the 2017 same sex marriage referendum in Australia will perhaps see some similarities.
But back to Xx…
In England, medical researchers have achieved male-free reproduction. They’ve figured out how to create a baby from two female eggs. No sperm required. Baby animals have been successfully conceived and birthed using the technique, now they ready to embark on a human trial.
Jules is desperate to give her long-time partner Rosie the baby she has always dreamed of. They’re thrilled to be accepted into the first trial group and ecstatic when Rosie conceives a baby using Jules’ ovum. It’s guaranteed to be a girl – no boy babies can be born from ovum-to-ovum fertilisation. Boy babies require a Y chromosome.
But Jules, a seasoned journalist, is horrified to discover that Rosie will be the first in the trial group – and the world – to give birth. She thinks she knows how to manage to media storm. But her underestimation and a mystery betrayal means they have even more than they could ever have anticipated.
What follows is a fascinating and frightening insight into how our fast-paced digital society deals with contentious issues. Spoiler: we don’t deal with them well.
Some fairly deep issues are wrangled with along the way – can you love a child who’s not genetically related to you? How should medical research funding be allocated? Is reproduction a right or a privilege?
Xx feeds into the male anxiety of being made biologically redundant. Men have always needed women if they wanted to achieve a level of immortality (aka reproduction).
Women have also needed men – but only as far as insemination goes. That’s where the patriarchy comes in – for thousands of years men have made damned sure that women need to rely on them for political and economic survival.
The problem for this societal model is that in the modern western world women can now be economically independent. We can own property, earn money, run businesses and obtain finance under our own name – all while parenting young children, thanks to high-quality, government-subsidised childcare.
Tom, the long-time BFF of Rosie in Xx, gives a voice to this anxiety in the context of ovum-to-ovum fertilisation:
“And then, what would men actually be for? They could use us for sex here and there. But in today’s world there’s nothing women really need us for.”
Poor Tom, it must really suck to feel like you might only be valued for what’s between your legs. That’s definitely something us ladies can empathise with.
Well, Tom, perhaps it means it’s time to pull up your socks, start treating women decently, do your fair share around the house and don’t complain when women demand equal participation in politics and the economy. Then maybe we’ll want to spend time with you anyway.
Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of review. This post contains affiliate links.