Thoughts After Reading:
“The Handmaid’s Tale”
Written by: Margaret Atwood
I recently finished “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. It is a about a dystopian vision of a theocratic takeover of the United States. It centers around the role of women in society after a collapse in the rate of childbirths. Some women (handmaids) are utilized solely for their ability to create babies. They are given to high ranking men of the governing regime to create children, due to the fact that the wives of the men are infertile. In addition to this the book describes a society where women have had their property rights taken away from them etc. In other words a classic feminist vision of the so-called “patriarchy”. I found out about the book from an ad for a audio drama verison of the novel on the Ben Shapiro show. If you don’t have time to read the book I would highly recommend the audio drama, as it enjoys high production values.
For our purposes we are going to be looking at the book’s relevance to the current times we are living in. The Handmaid’s Tale is currently being adapted into a TV-series that is going to air on Hulu late April. I am absolutely 100% convinced that parallels are going to be drawn between the patriarchal dystopian vision of the United States in the book and America under the Trump Administration. I expect that actors from the show will make the usual rounds on the late night comedy and talk shows to promote the series. Since we already know that the late night hosts/comedians are almost unanimous in their hatred and contempt for Trump, I would be extremely surprised if comparisons would not be made. Before the 2016 US Presidential Election and during the transition period many on the left would most certainly have described Trump’s running mate Mike Pence as a religious “nut”. A lot of talk circulated about conversion therapy (electric shocks) to “cure” homosexuality and concentration camps for the LGBT population. The same hysterics will surely come back and rear its ugly had again one the show airs. Now I for one believe based on Trump’s demonstrated behavior during the campaign that this is all nonsense. Trump talked about protecting LGBT citizens during his nomination acceptance speech at the RNC (which got a loud applause), he invited openly gay Peter Thiel to speak at the convention, he held up a rainbow pride flag at a campaign event and since becoming president he has not (contrary to progressive expectations) rounded up gays and put them in camps to be subjected to conversion therapy.
Neither is the United States under Trump turning into a theocracy like in the book. Women enjoy all the same rights that men have and they are not forced into becoming surrogate wombs for the influential and powerful. There are women living in our world toady which do not enjoy the freedoms women have in the west. Just yesterday I saw a revolting video clip online of a bunch of women beeing herded by a man with a stick in Saudi-Arabia. Absolutely disgusting. Sadly the leftist narrative which will come from the discussions surrounding the story will falsely portray the west and the US in particular as hostile to women. I concede that they will (probably) not claim that the present is as bad as the world of the book, but they will still unjustly portray the Trump administration as hostile to women. I’m not going to rehash all the stories about Trump and women from the campaign. Suffice it to say that the stories are way, way overblown and to a large extent inaccurate. I recommend this video series if you are interested in delving deeper into the nitty gritty.
For a power structure that suppresses real victims, look no further than the Clinton family’s long and tragic history of abusing and demeaning real women. I suggest reading Roger Stone’s “The Clintons’ War on Women” for and in depth walkthrough of all the scandals.
Another striking similarity to our times is the book’s depiction of a demographic crisis. In the book the birthrate has plummeted significantly due to war (nuclear fallout). Abortions are banned and the role of women as lifegivers is elevated. The end result is the use of handmaids as baby “factories”. The western world in our own time is suffering from its own demographic collapse. The birthrate of native populations is crashing in many western democracies. If not for the importation of immigrants and their significantly higher birthrate the population of many countries would dwindle.
Another thought I have is that the book focuses on feelings and the inner life of the women. The book was written by a woman. As a man I found myself curious about the political structure of the regime and a more in depth telling of how the regime came into power. I want to point out this distinction. Obviously the inner life of the women and our protagonist especially is essential to the smooth flow of the narrative. I’m not disputing its deserved part as a centerpiece of the book. I merely found it interesting to note the discrepancy and the genders involved.
As a “fan” of dystopian fiction I found the book well worth my time spent reading it. Again I point out that if you want to experience the story, but don’t have time for a book check out the audio drama linked above.