Has anyone started organizing a national Handmaids' March yet? if not, let's do it! I would love to see thousands of handmaid clad women rallying outside the white house/capitol/trump towers....
DATE TBD (october 21st is just a place-holder)
Women's rights are still severely under attack and we will need to keep the pressure up.
Invoking the "Handmaids" is a reference to Margaret Atwood's novel "The Handmaid's Tale", which has just been produced as a Hulu series, airing this week. The Washington Post had this to say about it:
If there is an urtext of modern feminism, especially for those of us who prefer it in the form of juicy dystopian novels instead of lofty essays, then Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” is probably the closest thing we’ve got. It’s one of those books that people believe can tell a lot about another person based on what that other person thought of it.
Is your new boyfriend woke enough? Has he read “The Handmaid’s Tale”?
Is your new book club smart enough? How do they discuss “The Handmaid’s Tale”?
Has your relationship with your repressed Protestant mother festered for so long that you have never considered her as a complex woman with a rich inner life and her own unrealized desires and fears? Pour her a merlot and give her “The Handmaid’s Tale.” That ought to get you somewhere, even if it’s somewhere you later wish you hadn’t gone.
It means something to people — deeply, politically and almost spiritually. The new Hulu adaptation (Elisabeth Moss, Alexis Bledel) is a lot of things, but mostly it’s validation for those fans among us who don’t do cosplay as a rule, but who understand exactly the symbolism and the power of red capes and white bonnets.
Like a lot of good speculative fiction, describing the plot ends up short-selling the story, but for those who haven’t read it we’ll try: In a near-future universe of rising sterility and falling birthrates, the United States has been taken over by a right-wing theocracy. To rebuild the population, the new government has reintroduced the biblical practice of forced surrogacy (Remember Rachel and Leah and their fertile handmaids in Genesis?).
Rich women get to be wives to “Commanders.” Other women, if they can still bear children like the book’s heroine, Offred, are made into handmaids. Sent to training centers to learn obedience. Made to wear red. Not allowed to control finances or read. All told in spare, ironic prose with not an extra ounce of flesh on it.
The book was published in 1985 to near-glowing acclaim, winning the Arthur C. Clarke Award, nominated for a Booker Prize and a Nebula Award. One exception was the review written by Mary McCarthy, herself a famous novelist, who criticized “Handmaid’s Tale” for simultaneously being too unbelievable and not creative enough. “Nothing like the linguistic tour de force, ‘A Clockwork Orange,’ ” she sneered in the New York Times.
Which — thank God, because some of us can’t stand that book. And which, moreover, elaborately misses the point. “The Handmaid’s Tale” didn’t need linguistic cartwheels to transport its readers to an unfathomable new world. “Handmaid’s” world was meant to be fathomable — same technology, same cities, same fretting over women’s bodies — and its horrors were not all that new.