- I've actually read arguments that this society "wouldn't be all that bad," without even adding the caveat "as long as you're an Alpha or Beta." No, it just sounds like a lot of fun — everyone is happy, and everyone has lots of fun sex! Here's how supposedly sexually liberated this culture really is (doubles as Fridge Horror): Fertility is a "nuisance" to this society (as babies are made in factories and normal reproduction would seriously disrupt the system), yet they want everyone to be free to have the pleasure of sex as much as they want, whenever they want, with whomever they want. As they still need ovaries and sperm to produce their population, and a man can provide a relatively limitless supply of sperm compared to the limited number of eggs in one ovary, the simplest solution would seem to be to make most of their male population sterile, but what do they do? Make only 30% of their female population fertile and make the rest sterile and androgynous with a slight "tendency to grow beards." Say that again: Only 30% of all women are permitted to fully develop sexually, but all men are. All men are allowed to develop normally and enjoy their manhood to the fullest, but almost no women are — 70% of the female population have had so much of their femininity removed, they're not even referred to as "female" but as "freemartin." The World State's "ideal" version of a perfectly stable society is one where women only make up 15% of the population, and all males are permitted to be born whole but 70% of females must be born mutilated and the equivalent of castrated. It's only female fertility they villify, not male, and only women's bodies that are treated as a threat to stability and must be restrained; we know that women are drilled to take contraceptives, but we never see any indication that men are drilled to use condoms. This isn't some open-minded, civilized, advanced land of sexual liberation; it's just another society where female sexuality is regarded as disgusting and dangerous, like so many before it, except they have the technology to better guard against it. Oh, brave new world, where the threat of woman has finally been neutralized!
- Female femininity and sexuality don't seem to be under fire though, since the purpose of rendering her infertile is just to keep her from reproducing. The text makes it clear that a woman becoming androgynous is just an unfortunate side-effect rather than the desired outcome of their (outdated) methods of making her sterile, yet it's not one they're in a hurry to fix since social stability requires scientific/technological stagnation. (If someone were to look for a way to make women infertile without sacrificing her "femininity" they might discover a better way or that male sterilization is more effective and the whole system could get called into question!) However, it is a troubling Double Standard that only women have to take contraceptive measures while no men do. (Meaning men get all the fun associated with sex, while women get all the responsibility.) Also the troubling Double Standard regarding fertility: That being a Father is an embarrassment, but being a Mother is the most shameful, disgusting, humiliating, revolting thing that can ever happen to a person. It seems that a woman's femininity and sexuality is fine (since her looking pretty means he gets to have his jollies, and her having casual sex means he gets to have casual sex), but her reproduction is certainly considered "disgusting and dangerous." It is certainly yet another society where female sexuality and reproduction is controlled.
- 'Mother' is considered a filthy word, or even as a joke. Did this book predict Your Mom as a joke?
- Sending the "divergents" to the islands instead of culling them is not only in line with World State morality (since it allows them to attain their greatest level of happiness), it's also very smart policy for at least three reasons.
- First, it allows the World State to keep and make use of those divergent intellects. Even the World State can use true independent thinkers (to come up with new and better technology for propitiating the masses, if nothing else), and there is always the chance that some catastrophe or Outside-Context Problem may come up, in which case the World State may suddenly need that capacity for innovation. And if that day ever comes, those minds are right there on the islands, ready for use.
- Second, it helps ensure 100% divergent removal. If they culled the divergents, some at least would successfully hide themselves and undermine the system. But those who are smart enough to hide themselves are also smart enough to realize that the islands represent their best chance for a fulfilling life, and to deliberately get themselves sent there.
- Third, in the event of catastrophic failure of the World State, the islands act as a failsafe to ensure humanity's survival. They are the most intelligent and free-thinking humans on Earth, which means that in the event of a full failure of the System they have the best chance of being able to build a new civilization.
Fridge / Brave New World