The Handmaid’s Tale is truly captivating but I can’t help but put it down from time to time. Despite its label as a dystopian novel, I am absolutely shaken as to how shockingly, disturbingly possible this could happen, or if not is already happening in real life. I remember a signage held up in the recent Women’s March, “Make Atwood Fiction Again”. I didn’t quite get it then, but I definitely do now. It reminded me of the workplace, where having a “women’s league” is part of a company’s pseudo diversity machinery yet continues to systemically treat women as ‘special’ or different in a multitude of ways, the varying degrees of subjugation I’ve experienced, (I’m a childless, unmarried and middle-aged, so yeah! that makes me fall under the err, Unwomen category?), the callow yet knavish clique mentality women have to pit women against each other as a means of validation, the subtle and overt sexisms taken as normal or accepted, typical to a predominantly male organization. And I really wonder, would I have the courage, to stand up to take a stand or fight all this? I also think of my nieces and the state of womanity that they are now entering. How much have I contributed to championing women’s rights, or at the very least, not add to its backsliding? I feel like I suddenly woke up forty, my 20s & 30s whizzed past, with little to show for. How much have I glossed over, let pass, overlook, for the sake of uncomplicated, agreeable and easy?! How much of the freedoms that I enjoy as a modern woman, have I taken for granted or been flippant about? What would it be like if taken away? How will it be taken away? I’m still reading, to get clues, insight on how it got to this deplorable state, and what is in our present mores should we watch out for lest we become Gilead-esque.
Despite it’s disturbingly enthralling pages, there is a sardonic humor and a deft use of satire along the lines of A Clockwork Orange and 1984. It’s now wonder it captivated the interest of Bruce Miller, the creator of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale TV series. (starring Elizabeth Moss, I’m glad the tv adaptation tried to stay faithful to the book and all changes and creative input were actively taken with Margert Atwood.
In one of my breaks from reading, I came across this article, that further fueled my fears and apprehensions.
But then, I check myself and take heed from Atwood herself. I definitely must read on.
”Anyone who wants power will try to manipulate you by appealing to your desires and fears, and sometimes your best instincts. Women have to be a little cautious about that kind of appeal to them. What are we being asked to give up?” – Margaret Atwood