“Bloodchild” and Switching Gender Roles

In the short story “Bloodchild”, Octavia Butler brings us into a completely new world where aliens are in control of humans and men are now used to reproduce. She introduces us to a whole new way of creating life and giving birth, which consists of one member of the Tlics, or aliens, to implant their eggs into a male human host and eventually remove the eggs once they have grown enough by slicing the stomach of the host and digging them all out, in hopes that the host will survive. The brutal explanation of this process was disturbing to read, but how different is it from the way women used to give birth?

During the discussion we had in class, it seemed to many people that what happens to these host men is considerably worse than what women go through during childbirth, but in reality, they are about the same.

Giving birth to a child is one of the most dangerous and painful things a woman can do, and nobody really seems to talk about it. A century ago, around six hundred women would die during childbirth for every one hundred thousand births, and in the 1700’s, that number was more than doubled. Puerperal fever, hemorrhage, eclampsia (ridiculously high blood pressure), and obstructed labor are all causes of death during childbirth that many people aren’t aware of, along with infection and a list of many other things that could go wrong.

I think the way Butler created this process was very fascinating and I really enjoyed the way she switched these gender roles in her story because the way these births happen in her story are actually very similar to the way women give birth today, and allows the reader, mostly men, to see themselves in the story and compare this with what giving birth is like for women.

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