VOX: Book Review
Updated: Dec 31, 2019
Vox (2018) is a fast moving, dystopian novel by Christina Dalcher in which Christian fundamentalism is taken to its logical conclusion. In a United States where women are allowed only 100 words a day (including written), Jean McClellan, a brain specialist, must leave her position and return home. Under the new rules, all women must leave the workforce.
Jean's relationship with her oldest son, who is being indoctrinated by the thought police, is heart wrenching since readers can sense his innocence. He dutifully does what he thinks is right according to his new philosophy which is being pushed in his AP class in school. Jean, of course, sees through this, but she cannot stop the outcome. Even more heartbreaking is the impact the word limit has on her young daughter who is rewarded at school for talking the least. Readers get a glimpse of the negative fallout when science (studies in speech development) must bow to religion and what this could mean for young women.
No matter what the reader may conclude about the plot, the setting is unsettling. For women, it feels like a gut-punch. Dalcher uses Bible passages about the subjugation of women as a justification to silence them (try speaking or writing only 100 words a day). For those coming from a fundamentalist background, this is somewhat reminiscent. She did not make up these passages. The leap made from them to the word limit is not that great a leap.
Some may conclude this is taken too far, that women are not treated as subservient to this degree. Yet, I witnessed women who could not teach men in the church, could not voice their opinions in mixed settings, could not be on the church board. I remember a man who did like to sing songs written by a female. I recall being discouraged from contributing to conversations about doctrine. I remember wondering why my voice meant less simply because I am female. Working outside the home was discouraged, especially after children arrived. Recently, I spoke to a woman whose boss made the decision for her to quit work when she was pregnant.
The haunting question throughout the book is whether or not this could happen today. As long as Christians continue to read the Bible with "plain meaning" in which they take every cultural directive and apply it to today, then the question remains. As long as there are blind, cult-like followers, as we have recently seen, there remains an inkling of fear that this could happen.