September 8, 2010

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 2:05 pm by Gina

This is the first time I’ve done a “review” but I wanted to share with you a book I just read. Let’s call it something catchy like “G’s Book Club” (or does Oprah already have that one?) Okay you get back to me with suggestions for that..

The book is the first of a trilogy by Stieg Larsson, a Swedish author who delivered the manuscripts shortly before dying of a heart attack. (interesting fact no?) Set in Sweden, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is crime novel with surprising amounts of depth. It is a multi-faceted book that touches on murder, family secrets and, of course, love. I also noticed a reoccurring feminine theme- one that we are going to focus on.

The novels protagonist, Mikael Blomkvist, is an investigative journalist recently convicted of libel. He takes a job investigating the disappearance of a member of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families. He is the typical protagonist- gentlemanly, moral, conflicted and suave. His predictability doesn’t take away from the story though, as he has many influential supporting characters to back him up. He seems to be surrounded by a posse of women throughout the entire novel, prominently his longtime lover and best friend Erika Berger and his eventual coworker and semi-girlfriend Lisbeth Salander.

Split into three parts, each part begins with a different fact involving women and crime in Sweden. Part 1 states, “Eighteen percent of the women in Sweden have at one time been threatened by a man.” Part 2 begins with “Forty-six percent of the women in Sweden have been subjected to violence by a man.” And finally Part 3 tells us that “Thirteen percent of the women in Sweden have been subjected to aggravated sexual assault outside of a sexual relationship.”

Though it is not the first issue one may think about while reading the book, in fact the plot can get cumbersome at times from the amount of story lines running through, I believe the author purposefully sheds a light on the mistreatment of women. Abuse and sexual abuse are common instances in the book that are never sugarcoated, ignored or disguised, even to characters as independent and powerful as Salander.

While this and the other negative themes can be depressing, the book comes off as realistic to me, even if it is a bit raw. Alex Berenson of the NY Times shares this about the novel’s title: “The book’s original Swedish title was “Men Who Hate Women,” a label that just about captures the subtlety of the novel’s sexual politics. Except for Blomkvist, nearly every man in the book under age 70 is a violent misogynist.”

Was this Larsson’s real vision of men and women in Sweden? Was his motivation to, as I said, “shed a light on the mistreatment of women” or simply to write an intriguing novel? If you read the book- tell me what you think!!

June 17, 2010

Midwives

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:07 am by Gina

Hi all,

The title of this post comes from the title of the book I’m currently reading, recommended and lent to me from an avid reader and elementary school teacher, by Chris Bohjalian. The book has been slightly difficult for me to get in to, but I can respect the descriptions and appreciate how different of a topic it’s about–midwifery.

It made me start thinking about midwives. How many are there? What do they do exactly? Benefits? Cons? It’s natural, but how safe is it really?

The Columbia Encyclopedia describes midwifery as “the art of assisting childbirth.” It continues to say that originally in ancient Greece and Rome these women had some formal training. During Medieval times however, the medical arts declined and midwifery became a trade learned solely through experience and oral tradition (two things that shouldn’t be deemed unimportant.)

Now, most midwives are certified nurses and can practice in all 50 states. Lay-midwives, usually trained through apprenticeship, are regulated by state about what duties they can perform.

Why choose a midwife over a safe, regulated, “normal” hospital birth? While reading the novel one of the things that most struck me (all while keeping in mind that of course it is fiction etc etc) is the level of emotion. The woman can choose who is in the room, who will deliver her baby. A midwife who chose to deliver babies because she believes in the absolute beauty of birth and life and believes in doing that in the most natural way possible. Still, other benefits include payment plans, sliding fees and a high number of accepted insurance plans. Also natural methods, choices, and low-intervention rates (cesarean sections.)

MANA, the Midwives Alliance of North America, has a list of definitions of the various types of midwives and their differences among one another.

Would you use a midwife? Is it something that ever even crossed your mind in today’s science, institution based world? Would it surprise you to hear that the United States provides the world’s most expensive maternity care but has worse pregnancy outcomes than almost every other industrialized country? Let me know!

~Gina