Author Spike Marlowe's book, Placenta of Love, is a wildly entertaining narrative about love, a sentient placenta, the universe's largest theme park and a robo-pirate with a passion for creating artificial life.
Those that have read the book, published last November as part of Eraserhead Press' New Bizarro Author Series, know the amusement doesn't stop after the last page, because even the author's bio packs a few interesting morsels of information. For example, Marlowe has held a variety of odd jobs, including a performer in a wild west show, detective and Bigfoot researcher. According to the bio, she also fights crime at night.
Though this last statement sounds strange, the author is now showing her fighting skills by taking on a different adversary: the war on women.
For the month of August, the month during which Women's Equality Day lands, Marlowe will donate her royalties from Placenta of Love to Planned Parenthood. The author announced the decision on her blog on August 1. She also offered her reasons for doing it:
"During the past year, state governments have been taking reproductive and health rights from women. A lot of brave women and men fought for decades to provide women with these rights. At times, these governmental actions have made me feel like we’re regressing rather than progressing. This breaks my heart."
"Austin is one of the top ten American cities for women's health, environmentalism, arts, educational resources, infrastructure and so on," said Marlowe. "Austin sure seems to be doing something right and it has a lot to share with the rest of the country."
Mixing ideology with art, especially when dealing with issues that have political implications, might seem like a dangerous move. However, Marlowe thinks her personal philosophy and her art go hand-in-hand.
"I don't know that my ideology and my art were ever separated," said Marlowe. "Though I don't necessarily agree with everything my characters do and say, I think my ideology feeds my art. This isn't uncommon for artists. Other artists, like Cory Doctorow, Woody Guthrie, Madeleine L'Engle and Amanda Palmer often mix their ideology and their art with great success."
Choosing Planned Parenthood as a beneficiary was an easy decision for Marlowe. Planned Parenthood's reach, significance and impact on women's health all across the nation are things the author is fully aware of and thankful for. However, she doesn't think most politicians are aware of just how much the program achieves.
"There's a lot of misunderstanding as to what Planned Parenthood does, resulting in significant funding cuts in Texas, Indiana and Kansas, and threatened cuts in Arizona, Ohio and New Hampshire," said Marlowe.
"Depending on how the presidential election turns out, these cuts could be national. This is a problem. Planned Parenthood is the only national organization that provides not only education about sexual and reproductive health, but also provides preventative and diagnostic health services to hundreds of thousands of low-income women who wouldn’t have access to breast exams or Pap smears any other way. One-in-five women have received health services from Planned Parenthood."
On her blog, Marlowe mentioned feeling "like we’re regressing rather than progressing." When asked to explain more about that, she mentioned the sentiment comes from watching as rights that were the end result of long, arduous struggles disappear in a moment via legislation.
"American women have been fighting since the 1700s for equal rights and the right to make personal choices," said Marlowe. "We saw great success during the 20th century. However, now in the 21st century, our federal, state and local governments have introduced and passed more and more healthcare legislation that negatively impacts women — women’s health, women’s ability to make personal choices and women’s access to healthcare."
While Marlowe is fully aware of that fact that women's health is not the only problem needing attention out there, supporting this cause came naturally to her for a variety of reasons that go from a personal to a national level.
Firstly, I'm a woman. Secondly, I have a lot of women in my life who mean the world to me, just like all other Americans do," said the author. "The women we love have the right to health care. Right now, there are people who are trying to impact and control my body and my health, and the bodies and health of the women everywhere.
Thirdly, I used to work with low-income minority women. I saw how education and health services, like the kind provided by Planned Parenthood, resulted in healthier women and even prevented deaths. This is good for women, their loved ones and their communities.
Also, my book, Placenta of Love, is a love story about a giant pink placenta. How could women's health issues not be a topic close to my heart?"
Marlowe announced her donation plans in a post titled "Can art change the world?" Instead of allowing the question to remain unanswered, she immediately offered her thoughts: "I believe art can change the world." Given the impact art can have on society, Marlowe thinks cities like Austin need to play an important role when it comes to issues that affect us all.
"I would hope that citizens of creative cities like Austin would join together, perhaps with other cities, to develop creative solutions to all the issues our country struggles with," said Marlowe. "In this role, our cities could show the world that through creativity, cooperation and perseverance, so many issues could be solved. As the famed anthropologist Margaret Mead said, 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.'"
According to Marlowe, Austin is already doing a great job, and keeping it up or adding to it, can bring forth nothing but benefits.
"Austin is one of the top ten American cities for women's health, environmentalism, arts, educational resources, infrastructure and so on," said the author. "Austin sure seems to be doing something right and it has a lot to share with the rest of the country."
The royalties from Placenta of Love that will go to Planned Parenthood will help provide low-income women with Well Woman Exams. Buying a paper or e-copy of the book guarantees a donation. However, Marlowe said there are other ways of lending a hand.
"You can also donate your time or money directly to Planned Parenthood or other organizations that help women," said Marlowe. "You can talk about my fundraising project or the issues impacting women with your friends and family. Finally, you probably know a woman who needs a Well Woman Exam. Please encourage the special women in your life to have these exams regularly — they can positively impact their health and maybe even save their lives."
For updates on how Spike Marlowe's initiative is developing, visit her blog here.