Required Reading: Tampon Utopia
It's 2012. Are you ready for TEOTWAWKI?
If you haven't been paying attention, 2012 is the supposed last year of worldly existence, according to an ancient Mayan calendar, and TEOTWAWKI stands for "the end of the world as we know it." Whether this end comes through nuclear collapse or magnetic pulses from space or a simple breakdown of social and financial systems, savvy survivalists are sharing their knowledge on panicky forums that sprout like radioactive mushrooms across the Internet.
National Geographic's television series, Doomsday Preppers showcases the very best of the extreme, like Megan here, who stockpiles handguns, canned asparagus and—revealed in a shot apparently necessary to the trailer's narrative arc—a stripper pole. There is even a Ladies Section on Survivalistboards.com, which really makes you re-evaluate the average tampon. After the apocalypse, everything -including blowdarts, DIY lamps, and deadfall traps- can be made with tampons.
And isn't building a new world out of tampons (or other materials of choice) the apocalypse fantasy? Consider Robert O'Brien's Z for Zachariah, classic apocaliterature for the middle-school set, in which teenage hero Ann Burden miraculously survives nuclear catastrophe. After living in isolation, Ann is surprised to see a single man in the distance, who approaches, gradually settles in, starts eating Ann's food, asking for her medical care, and planning the rest of their lives together. First, Ann is into it, but Loomis' imagination of the new world order is very much a women-as-chattel system. The novel's wonderful turning point in a feminist reading comes when the couple reads Pride and Prejudice together.
(Spoiler alert!) Ann suddenly realizes that Loomis has not been paying attention to the book, and seeds of doubt about his interest in her begin to sprout. Violence, hiding, and chase scenes ensue, but once Ann steals Loomis' biochemical protective suit and sets out on an adventure to find the rest of humanity, you get back into TEOTWAWKI utopia-building: leaving behind all the parts of civilization that aren't working. Bossy guys with plans to fertilize everything—plant and human— don't have to survive.
For the real apocalypse, try Elizabeth Colbert's alarming investigation of climate change: Field Notes from a Catastrophe. What's on your end of days reading list?
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