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Turner Syndrome In Pop Culture

Amazon.com: The Condition: A Novel: Jennifer Haigh: Books

Jennifer Haigh || Author of Faith, The Condition, Baker Towers and Mrs Kimble

Books of The Times – In ‘The Condition,’ Jennifer Haigh Explores a Fractured Family – Review – NYTimes.com

Jennifer Haigh – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Believe it or not, there are a couple of instances in the past few years in which Turner Syndrome was portrayed, fairly correctly, in pop culture.  Personally I am glad to see it.  Let’s start with the book.

The protagonist of Jennifer Haigh’s 2008 novel The Condition, Gwen, has Turner Syndrome.  While the “condition” of the novel supposedly refers to Turners, it really, at the end of the novel, represents the human condition.  I won’t go into detail about Gwen’s family, all of whom are much more screwed up than she is, other than to say the entire novel is about family dysfunction and the million little ways in which we hurt each other.

For a time, I felt conflicted about the book.  For every woman with Turners who felt the book accurate, there were just as many who saw it as inaccurate.  From my perspective, it is fairly accurate; it just uses the physical and social characteristics associated with Turners to full effect.  After reading the book a second time, I still find it hard to fairly review the book.  I suppose in some ways it describes various aspects of Turners a little too well.

There are a few scenes in the book that I could directly relate to as a woman with Turners.  The scene in which Gwen is compared to a female cousin approximately the same age breaks my heart, as did the scene in which Gwen begs her Mother for a new bathing suit.  I could relate.  I have a slightly older female cousin who happened to wear women’s sizes long before I could.  I distinctly remember feeling left out, never able to catch up, and plain envious.  Jennifer Haigh captured the situation well, but I wish she would’ve included more from Gwen’s perspective, even if she was a child at the time.

One of the most perplexing and complicated relationships in the novel happens to be between Gwen and her Mother.  Again, I found I could relate to their relationship, unfortunately.  Gwen seemed to have the need to become her own woman, in spite of what her Mother thought best.  While I have a better relationship with my Mom than Gwen had with hers, I do feel she doesn’t even begin to understand where I am coming from at times.  While that may be true for many mothers and daughters, I do think a diagnosis of Turner Syndrome strains that particular relationship.  How can mothers help their daughters deal with almost certain infertility, especially at a young age?  I was diagnosed at age three and knew about infertility by age ten.  I don’t think there is an answer and I don’t think most moms know how to even begin to address it.

Most of the action in the novel pertaining to Gwen revolves around her finally finding love and happiness.  The details pertaining to the reactions of her family members, some of which are just plain awful, seem a bit far-fetched.  Then again, many people just do not know what to make of women with Turner Syndrome at times, especially when it comes to romantic relationships and sex.  While the book ended on very positive notes, the ending seemed forced.  I must say that I highly approve of the life Gwen created for herself in the end.  What more can anyone ask for?

Below is a video of Jennifer Haigh discussing The Condition.  I suppose I’m left wondering if she understands the role hormone replacement therapy plays in helping women with Turners Syndrome develop secondary sex characteristics, but I digress.

IMDb – “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” Clock (TV episode 2006)

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Clock – Season 8, Episode 2 – TV.com

Clock – Law and Order

It is now time to move on to TV.  Several years ago I was pleasantly surprised to learn that one of my favorite TV shows, Law & Order:  Special Victims Unit, dealt with Turner Syndrome.  In the episode Clock, teenager Janey Speer, who has Turners, disappears with a classmate while on a field trip.  While Benson and Stabler first believe Janey to be the victim in the case, it isn’t so clear cut in the end.

I won’t give away the plot – and Turners is central to the plot in this case – but there are a couple of things I found quite amusing about this episode.  First and foremost, this episode portrays Turners girls and women as extremely stubborn.  I certainly fit that stereotype, as does most of my family.  The amusing part is that most Turners girls and women I’ve met over the years also fit the stereotype.  We are a feisty bunch.  My theory is that we had to be stubborn even to survive in the womb.  As 98 to 99% of fetuses with Turner Syndrome are miscarried, we can truly say we are the 1%.

The episode focuses on just how young Janey looks at 17.  In many ways I take exception to the portrayal of Turners girls and woman as always looking much younger than their true age.  That certainly isn’t always the case, although it would come in handy say at age 40.  What got me is the reaction from the cops to Janey’s relationship with her boyfriend.  He really did get treated shabbily.  One detective even tried to get him as pedophile.  While it would be easy to find that offensive, there was enough humor and humanity in the characters throughout the episode to put things in perspective.  Maybe I’m just partial to Turners girls and women being portrayed as stubborn.  Of course we are!

Cover of "The Condition: A Novel"

Cover of The Condition: A Novel

What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights? | James Russell Ament

 

Frankenstein (1931) film poster

Image via Wikipedia

What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights? | James Russell Ament.

Some great food for thought.

Of Jane And Elizabeth, Helen And Bridget

Sometimes there are characters that stay with you to the point of distraction.  Currently I am rereading Pride and Prejudice.  I’m reading it again as a prelude to Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James.  Don’t ask me why other than to say it has been over a decade since I last read Pride and Prejudice.

There is something I can identify with in the character of Elizabeth Bennet.  She isn’t considered the beauty among her sisters, but she is the one with an intellectual spark so underappreciated in women during the Regency period.  I love the fact that Elizabeth doesn’t easily fall for Mr. Darcy.  She holds out for more than just a comfortable marriage, she holds out for true love.  She isn’t willing to sacrifice herself, her true sense of self, for any man.  That is a trait to be admired.

I can’t imagine what it was like for Jane Austen to create such a formidable, well-developed female character at that time.  Today it is easy to forget what stringent social norms governed every aspect of a woman’s life.  It would’ve been difficult to be a successful female novelist then, under the best of circumstances, much less while creating strong female protagonists determined to have some say in direction of their own lives.  I admire the strength it must have taken to continue to create something so complex, and beautiful, which many at the time would have perceived as frivolous.

It continues to amaze me just how prevalent Jane Austen’s novels – and anything associated with them – are within modern society.  In fact, there is even a well-established blog dedicated to anything and everything Jane Austen.  It is called AustenBlog.  As the tagline used to say, “She’s everywhere.”  Sometimes you just have to look.

When Bridget Jones’ Diary first came out, I did not know to what extent it is tied to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  While I knew Colin Firth portrayed Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and later played barrister Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’ Diary, I didn’t realize that Bridget Jones’ Diary is nothing less than an update of major plot points in Pride and Prejudice.  I’m not sure whether or not that was author Helen Fielding’s intention when she created the Bridget Jones character for her series of newspaper articles for the Independent, but the evidence is there.

Just like Elizabeth Bennet, Bridget Jones does not realize Mr. Darcy’s true feelings for her until it is almost too late.  Like Elizabeth Bennet, Bridget feels compelled to marry, despite vastly different social circumstances – and for slightly different reasons.  Both also have the misfortune to have overbearing, but well-meaning, mothers who do not truly understand the inner turmoil experienced by their daughters.

Despite time and social progress, I believe many women still find themselves mirrored in both Elizabeth Bennet and Bridget Jones.  I have yet to figure out exactly what it is except to say that I can identify.  Maybe it is a longing for a sense of belonging within society as a whole, including a desire to create a family of one’s own, all against the backdrop of a screaming biological clock.  Maybe it is the deep-seated desire in every woman to be loved just as she is.  Or it may be the generational divide between mothers and daughters leading daughters to feel completely misunderstood by their own mothers.  Whatever it may be, it is universal.  I’m just glad I get to laugh along with Jane, Elizabeth, Helen, and Bridget.

pride and prejudice

Blog Tour: Spin The Plate By Donna Anastasi

Today I’m reviewing Spin The Plate by Donna Anastasi as part of the Spin The Plate Book Tour.

Spin The Plate by Donna Anastasi is not normally the type of book I would select for myself.  It is not the type of book I’d normally pick up while browsing the library or bookstore.  That said, I’m glad that I found out about the book and have the opportunity to share my reading experience with everyone.

We start out meeting Jo.  Jo is a loner who projects a tough image in order to protect herself.  In reality, she has shut herself off from most of the world around her.  She works as a tattoo artist in Boston and her regimented daily schedule includes work, spending time with several animal companions, and midnight excursions to help women and animals in need.  One chance meeting on her way to work changes all of that.

That chance meeting with Francis begins to change Jo’s life.  Francis is a very religious, mysterious man who becomes obsessed with Jo’s tough veneer.  He is determined to become a part of her life.  His persistence pays off.  Jo and Francis are two of the most unique characters I’ve come across.  The entire dynamic of their developing relationship made for wonderful reading.

It is through Jo’s relationship with Francis that we learn Jo’s horrific childhood story.  I won’t spoil the story, but it was satisfying to watch Jo finally deal with decades of baggage thrust upon her during childhood.  You can’t help but to root for her eventual happiness.

The ending of the book is satisfying in many ways and I ended the book wanting more.  I get the impression that this is not the last readers will see of Jo and Francis.  I’m glad.  I can imagine the new direction their story will take.  As a writer, I feel they may be even more interesting than the initial story.

In preparation for reviewing Spin The Plate by Donna Anastasi, I read many of the previous stops on the earlier blog tour.  One reviewer stated that she felt the book wouldn’t get the attention it deserved due to the facts it covered controversial topics and it doesn’t nicely fit into one genre.  I agree completely.  I can only hope that Spin The Plate continues to get some attention and gets picked up by readers.  The book does have a powerful message.  No one has to remain the victim of their circumstances.  Anyone can change for the better.

You can find more information on the blog tour, and additional stops, below:

Spin The Plate Book Tour

Blog Tour Round Up: Spin The Plate By Donna Anastasi | Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde

Why I Am Not A Feminist

Althouse at Japanese Restaurant

Image by Ann Althouse via Flickr

Althouse: “Feminism is all about taking control away from the individual woman…”

I have to agree with Althouse on this one.  Since when does feminism get to be defined by one political party?  When do you have to subscribe to a narrow set of arbitrary beliefs to be a “feminist”?  I’d love to know.  I am tired of people assuming my political viewpoints simply due to my gender.  After a while the assumptions are tiring.  Althouse is on to something.

Mr. Darcy… Among Other Things… Sigh.


This video just cheers me up.  “Bridget Jones’ Diary” is one of my favorite movies of all time, even though I truly disliked the sequel.  The very last scenes between Bridget and Mark Darcy are some of my favorite movie scenes of all time.  Bridget running after him in her underwear:  Priceless.  I think back to my college days and how we drooled over Collin Firth.

  • Bridget Jones's Diary (film)

    Image via Wikipedia

Equal Work, Unequal Pay

A Million Women vs. Wal-Mart: Battle May Go to the Supreme Court

It boggles my mind that this kind of sexism going on in the 21st century.  If it is true, I hope that Wal-Mart gets what it deserves.  As a woman who works in the retail sector, the very fact that these women have waited so long for justice angers me too.  Whether or not Wal-Mart is engaging in this unfair labor practice, I’m not naïve enough to believe that it doesn’t occur.

I have to admit, I don’t care for Wal-Mart.  Their products are inferior in many cases, and when you have an alternative like Meijer, it doesn’t pay to shop there.  I really missed Meijer when I lived in Texas.  Unfortunately, sometimes Wal-Mart was the only alternative for some items.

Book Review – “The Condition: A Novel” by Jennifer Haigh

Cover of "The Condition: A Novel"

Cover of The Condition: A Novel

The Condition:  A Novel by Jennifer Haigh

I read this novel with apprehension.  The author chose to discuss Turner Syndrome via the main character of the novel, Gwen.  I have Turner Syndrome and naturally wondered how it would be portrayed in the setting of a fictional novel.  As an avid reader, an aspiring writer, and a woman with Turner Syndrome, I couldn’t help but be fascinated.  It took courage for Jennifer Haigh to add complexity to a main character of her novel, not to mention the novel itself, by including emotional and physical descriptions of a little-known genetic condition.

After reading the first chapter, my apprehension eased.  Not only did she get the physical descriptions right, which is amazing considering all of the inaccurate information regarding Turner Syndrome that can still be found in medical texts, she described emotional aspects of the condition correctly as well.  In fact, in some respects, it was uncanny.  I found myself relating to Gwen in ways that I never imagined I could relate to a fictional character.

There were certain scenes in the novel that eerily mirrored scenes from my life.  For instance, Gwen finds herself continually compared to a female cousin near her age.  At a certain age, the physical disparities become apparent and comparisons are made.  In the book, a day at the beach leads to discussion of Gwen’s lack of a figure.  She becomes almost withdrawn physically.

I can relate.  As a child, I naturally compared myself to my older cousins and my younger sister.  I distinctly remember being heartbroken when my older cousin, 10 months my senior, could fit into women’s clothing, and I still had to shop in the junior section.  I continually felt behind physically, and in some respects, developmentally.  For example, I did not feel comfortable behind the wheel of a car until I was 20 years old.  As I grow older, I now realize that it is both a blessing and a curse.  Unlike many children today, I actually had time to be a child.

One of the most important aspects of the novel involves Gwen’s love life.  At the beginning of the novel, Gwen leads a quiet, content life without any hint of romance.  I, too, could relate.  I really didn’t date much during either high school or college.  When I finally did enter a serious relationship, it simply was the one for me.  Gwen followed a similar path.  In the end, her love of water and scuba-diving led her to love.

First and foremost, one needs to be comfortable in one’s own skin before being able to commit to any type of romantic relationship.  As in many other things, it might just take women with Turner Syndrome a little longer.  High incidence of infertility doesn’t help much either.  Personally, I struggled with how to tell the love of my life that our marriage would most likely be a childless one (outside of adoption, anyway).  Fortunately for me, it was also one of the most anti-climatic experiences of my life.  He already knew that I have Turner Syndrome and all about its implications.

Gwen’s resolution of her romantic life is quite possibly one of the most satisfying aspects of the novel.  I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I will say that she does end up incredibly happy.  You can’t ask much more than that.  The novel almost hauntingly points out deficiencies in family relationships.  Gwen’s family is uniquely dysfunctional, and as a result, all too real.

I would recommend The Condition:  A Novel to anyone interested in family dynamics or sociology.  It is a strong book with characters that are all too human.

Ms. Meghan McCain!

McCain Blogette

This blog is great. Even though it is written and maintained by John McCain’s daughter Meghan (with the help of her brothers and sisters), it really isn’t all that political. It does document her time on the campaign trail and the promotion of her children’s book about her dad. It is a lot of fun. Check it out!

Lindsey

More on Palin

Palin: Bad Mother, Bad Woman | The Anchoress

I have so much to say on Palin being selected as running-mate. I’m still working out exactly what I will say. There are just that many layers to this. However, after reading this particular post by one of my favorite bloggers (even though I’m not Catholic), I needed to share it here. She addresses some of my anger at just how the Democrats have handled this so far.

As far as I’m concerned, ALL women, not just Democratic women, should have a right to speak their mind, to stand up for what they believe in (even if it goes against the Democratic party platform), and to pursue career and personal happiness. She would be hailed as a hero if she were a Democrat. Instead, we see people questioning whether or not she is a good mother just due to the fact that she is now on the national stage.

My anger runs so very deep on this one, but at least now I have someone to admire in politics.

Lindsey