My classmate Jess recently posted a blog post (What College Will Be Like) starting with: “Ever since the beginning of high school, teachers harped on my classmates and I about college expectations. Writing classes had papers on reading assignments due every week. I was told, “this is preparing you for college” and “professors won’t baby you.” And I can relate, as I’m sure many of my peers do too, to this exhausting and repetitive high school process. This quote pertains directly to our class discussion on consent and a question I asked myself after reading Bloodchild: “how much do we really know before we accept the ‘risk’?”
When those teachers gave us all of the “tools” they said were necessary to succeed in college, we as students assumed we were leaving high school prepared for that next step. Now, as a second semester freshman, I can say that nothing truly prepares you for the reality of college and the amount of work it requires until you’re actually there. I talk more about this unpreparedness in my previous blog post (Reflections, Relations, and Reality). A very similar situation is apparent in Bloodchild, when Gan thinks he’s prepared to become a host for T’Gatoi’s eggs and go through the birthing process. On page 13 of the text, Gan mentally prepares himself to bring in the animal sacrifice T’Gatoi demanded and witness his first live birth on a dying man. He states, “I turned to take the ache to her, then hesitated. For several seconds, I stood in front of the closed door wondering why I was suddenly afraid. I knew what was going to happen. I hadn’t seen it before but T’Gatoi had shown me diagrams and drawings. She made sure I knew the truth as soon as I was old enough to understand it.” However, after seeing the horrors of the birth that went anything but perfect, Gan questions his whole relationship with T’Gatoi and duty to be a host.
Both students and Gan were not fully aware of the risks of the partnerships they agreed to. Personally, I am told that by attending Geneseo and accepting this academic partnership, I’ll obtain a degree and get a job. No one tells you that even after graduation, I might not be able to find a job. I might not be able to pay off loans. I might look back on these years thinking of them as a waste, wishing someone had told me that the preparation in high school, hard work in college, and determination for a job does not actually guarantee a successful future. Only after experiencing this partnership in college do I see graduating seniors on my team struggling to find a spot in the real world after May. Gan is prepared for his role in similar teachings. He’s told what’s supposed to happen in the birthing process, how he will be helping the Tlic and his family, and how “painless” it is. He doesn’t even question his relationship with T’Gatoi until witnesses the birth that makes all of the diagrams and knowledge into a terrifying reality.
Would most students agree to the expenses and time spent at college if they knew personally how uncertain the end result is? Would Gan have accepted his duty to T’Gatoi from such an early age if he had been shown a live birth years ago? It seems that this innocence and in-exposure to all the risks of our partnerships lead us to leap into them without much question until reality hits. With all the discussion in today’s world regarding consent, and especially informed consent on college campuses, it seems like schools ironically break the very practice they preach. They fail to show us the outcomes of an imperfect college experience, just like T’Gatoi fails to show Gan the possibilities of an imperfect birth.
I challenge all students to ask themselves, “is this partnership I have agreed to a fair one?”.