Most inexcilent news my dudes, the price of salt is plummeting! There is literally so much salt that we can’t find enough things to do with it! All the meat has been preserved, all the food has been flavored, and at least two new mountain ranges have been created. To be honest, I was about to stop commenting on all the salt because I can’t possibly keep up with and it’s starting to overwhelm even me.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned to a friend that I was in the middle of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. “It’s like 1984 for feminists, right?” he asked. Sort of, I said. But it’s a lot scarier…
Seriously my dudes and dudettes, if you think The Handmaid’s Tale is scarier than 1984, you’ve got issues. I mean, I couldn’t even finish 1984, I got to like a 3rd of the way into it and I had to set it down and I haven’t ever picked it up again. 1984 is about a world where the government controls everything, sees everything, knows everything, and if you make one tiny slip, you’re off to a reeducation camp if you’re lucky, and just plain dead if you aren’t. Hell, every Screen in that world has a webcam that is constantly on, recording everything you do. Imagine the Soviet Union, only on steroids, who has erased virtually all history except for themselves.
The Handmaid’s Tale, on the other hand, is about a world where women lose their rights due to theocratic shenanigans post some sort of terrorist attack. So already, at least 50% of the population still has rights…unlike 1984 where none of the population has rights. The Tale is about a woman who is basically a concubine and to be honest the entire story sounds like it’s set in Saudi Arabia. A place where…feminists and other women largely ignore the obvious oppression of Saudi women for…reasons. So I mean, I’m going to guess they don’t think that kind of life is so bad if they’re more willing to fight “manspreading” than literal slavery, it can’t be all that bad.
…It’s about how you’ll lose every right you have, and none of the men you know will care. Then I said he would probably betray me if they froze all women’s bank accounts. That was the peak of my paranoia, but it held on for several more days, as I read on the subway while half-consciously figuring out how I might theoretically escape to Canada. 1984 was for lightweights.
As a warning against totalitarian government, 1984 has become so culturally ubiquitous that it can cover almost anything. According to a recent check of Google News, net neutrality, GPS locators, a new U2 album, and “tolerance” are all Orwellian concepts. There’s a comforting, almost apolitical universality to it, because we can all happily agree that the world of 1984 is evil, then blithely map our own ideology onto how we’ll get there. Big Brother is anyone who disagrees with you — impersonal, unknowable, monstrous, and diluted into meaninglessness. The Handmaid’s Tale dares to name an enemy, and if you’re female, the enemy could be everyone you’ve ever loved.
Honestly fam, if 1984 can be applied to everything ubiquitously, that’s not a mark against 1984 as a book. That’s really a mark against the whole of society. But let’s break these examples down:
Google News: Well, given that the MSM very literally will present you the news it wants you to know, and seeks to ban all knowledge of the news it doesn’t want you to know…that’s exactly how the Media works in 1984.
Net Neutrality is all about “keeping the net unbiased” or something like that, which is a fancy way of saying they can shut down sites who publish information they don’t like. Like the Government in 1984 does, except they do it with non-internet sources because there’s no internet.
GPS locators? Gee, you think constantly keeping tabs on your location within 3ft isn’t a bit…much?
“tolerance”…yeah. Given that in the name of “tolerance” so many things have been labled “wrongthink” and”thoughtcrime” which quit literally will get you thrown in jail these days…it fits.
U2 album? Well, that was just evil to begin with.
But I love this: “The Handmaid’s Tale dares to name an enemy, and if you’re female, the enemy could be everyone you’ve ever loved.”
Yeah, 1984 dared to name “the enemy” but let’s just ignore that. Nope, let’s focus on the fact that Donald Trump is apparenlty going to usher in an age of theocratic rule where in women are kept as breeding stock due to the population dying out. And Every Man is your Enemy.
Seriously, we’re getting into “name the Jew” territory here.
The Handmaid’s Tale is an evergreen cautionary fable in the women’s movement, but not long after I read it in high school, I relegated it to the realm of poetic but gimmicky literary science fiction and a certain era of American politics. Set in a totalitarian, Christian fundamentalist regime called “Gilead” in which women are property, it was written in 1985 — when the Moral Majority was going strong — and I read it during the George W. Bush administration, when abstinence-only education, purity balls, and the Westboro Baptist Church were all part of the national conversation.
As the times changed, it stopped feeling relevant. But when I read it again, as the internet was debating whether gendered harassment should just be considered a basic fact of life, I decided that was exactly why it still mattered.
“We need feminism because there are people out there who still don’t believe we need feminism.”
I mean, people are going to be assholes and there’s nothing you can do to stop that. Plus, both genders get sexually harassed in different ways, but you only ever hear about it when it happens to women and it only has to stop when it happens to women. But hey, please tell us why a book about a theocratic society in which women are the property of men is still relevant while ignoring the fact that there are nations where this still happens and feminists do nothing?
Everything that I originally remembered from The Handmaid’s Tale was from its somewhat shallowly drawn dystopian future. The book’s America has been locked off and strictly gender-segregated, with women divided into classes based on fertility and obedience. Environmental disasters and war have ravaged the country, and Gilead’s leaders rule through tactics lifted from history’s worst dictators…
So…the world according to Hillary Clinton?
…A woman named Offred (literally “of Fred,” the head of her household) is a Handmaid, one of increasingly few fertile women; she’s a surrogate womb for her de facto owner’s wife, but constantly in danger of being sent to one of the remote concentration camps where the old and infertile are worked to death. Under its flowing prose, it uses intentionally derivative ideas, and it was written a decade after the wildly original feminist science fiction of writers like James Tiptree, Jr. and Joanna Russ. Novels like A Walk to the End of the World and Swastika Night had already addressed similar premises, with less literary flair but more interesting speculation.
So what the author is telling us is she’s sperging off on the worst book in this genre…okay then.
Now, I’ve only got the wikipedia page here, but at the risk of making this “about men” there’s some questions I have about this situation. So women are classed based on fertility, because almost everyone is sterile and people are needed to keep the population alive. These fertile women are handed off as surogates until such time as they can’t have children anymore (and then they’re sent to camps? ok). But…only the top men in society are then getting women? So what about the other men? I hate to speculate, but honestly it seems like most men would be sent off to the camps as well because there is literally no point in their existence.
Still, Swastica Night actually sounds like a cool title, I wonder what that’s about…
Margaret Atwood is often credited with the quote “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” But killing, in The Handmaid’s Tale, is indirect. Unlike in any number of other gender dystopias, most men don’t oppress women because they hate or fear them, but because they can’t empathize enough to love them when it becomes inconvenient…
Well, I mean, you know…the death of their entire civilization to to widespread sterility being a thing…
Honestly though, I can’t help but feel this book actually has some Marxist undertones? I mean, sure it’s told from the perspective of a handmaid, but when you look at the larger world in which she’s living in, you’re faced with a society where in only a few select women can produce children. Now there’s two ways this could have gone.
- A Matriarchy where in those women capable of having children become the absolute rulers of society due to possessing the rarest of all resources. Making them wealthy beyond all means and the literal mothers of the civilization. Not unlike Queen Bees. (Honestly, could be an interesting story).
- A Marxist society where in the populace has “seized the means of production,” taken ownership of it, and distributed it through society as “needed.”
The author is focusing on women’s “rights” and giving into their paranoia that Trump’s America is going to just yank away all those rights, based on this book. But the author is ignoring a fundamental fact that the reason for women losing their rights in The Handmaid’s Tale is not Misogyny…but Sterility. The people do not care because they’re indifferent to the plight of women…but because to them the plight of women is secondary to the plight of extinction.
…We can’t even imagine what an equal world, a world where men and women face the same dangers, get the same opportunities, and have the same amount of power, would look like…
I know, right? Imagine a world where instead of suicide rates being 80% Men, it was 50%/50%? How many rants and articles would we see about the plight of women and why are women killing themselves so often? Or work place deaths? Where 50% of all hard labor jobs were done by women? Where women had to sign up for the draft in order vote, like men do? Or where men actually had an equivalent number of refuges to women?
I mean, the horrific, misogynistic dystopia!
If we can’t even be trusted to name the obvious, how can we say with any conviction that we’ll be able to recognize a dystopia when we see one?
At this point I could just go full MRA Statistics and point out the “dystopia” that the author is ignoring, but believe it or not this is most of the article and despite screaming about Trump in the title…he doesn’t make any appearance. None of his policies get mentioned. There is literally nothing to connect Trump to this “dystopian world where women are cattle” except…
Well except the author’s own paranoia.
Baring some catastrophic Inferno situation there is quite literally no way the “handmaids” tale is going to come about…except if Islamist Muslims manage to take over power in the USA and turn it into a series of Islamic States like you have in the middle east. I mean, fucking Hel, No one in Trump’s camp wants anything like this. Not Trump, Not Pence, no one. This is the ravings of a paranoid lunatic given a public, paid platform to scream about sexism based on a bad experience with a terrible, over the top book.
Why? Presumably because a candidate who quite literally treated women as second class people good only for being raped by her Husband didn’t win the election for president! And now our Author is mad and scared when faced with the reality that someone who has no interest in creating the “handmaids tale” is the victor over a woman who acted like she lived in it!