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What is The Handmaid’s Tale?

From one of our American friends…

By Tales & Typos

I read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood when it was first published in 1985. I thought it was brilliant then, and now it’s resurrection as a television series is even more eerie – eerily realistic.

When I began watching the Hulu television series, I was riveted from the very beginning. It had my attention from the very first scene. After watching a few episodes, I got uncomfortable with what I was watching, not because it was bad, but because it was so realistic and frightening.

In The Handmaid’s Tale, Gilead is the name of the totalitarian society that used to be part of the United States. It treats women as property of the state while dealing with climate change and environmental disasters, all causing the birth rate to drop. Desperately trying to repopulate their world, the few remaining fertile women are forced into sexual servitude. The main character is determined to survive the horrifying world she lives in and makes many discoveries along the way.

The Handmaids are prisoners of the State. They are denied the right to liberty and freedom. In “training” to adjust to their new lives, the Handmaids are threatened with violence and physically abused if they don’t submit to the ways of Gilead.

Women in Gilead are forbidden from reading and writing – the punishment for a first offense is having one’s hand cut off which enables the authorities to more easily maintain control over them. The Bible is banned. All citizens must follow Gilead’s own official version of Christianity. The ban of abortion in Gilead is a retroactive, meaning all who have performed abortions prior to the rise of Gilead are put to death or even sent to the Colonies.

What does Gilead remind you of? It reminds me of the state of Texas. Strict laws and rules unfavourable for women and minorities. Here are some similarities: Men controlling women, banning of abortion, banning of books, banning of voting rights, banning of freedom and liberty.

Although this is a fictional society, it has eerie similarities to our own society. It may be more extreme than our society, but the similarities are absolutely apparent.

So what do we do? We keep fighting for our freedom, rights, and democracy. Good vs Evil. Positive vs Negative. I’d like to think good supersedes evil. Voting is our superpower. We have to vote out evil because it is poisoning our country to death.

Link to the original article.

You can reach me on Twitter @kathrynresister.

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  1. New England Cocky

    Australian voters who are concerned that Australia is heading down the Handmaid’s Road to misogynistic totalitarianism have one last opportunity on 21 may 2022 to save Australian democracy for our grandkids.

  2. Michael Taylor

    Pauline Hanson and Craig Kelly would feel right at home in Texas.

  3. Anne Byam

    A very well written article and the subject ” The Handmaids Tale” is in fact a little too close to the possible truth, for comfort.

    What amazed me, both on reading the book some years before it was produced for TV viewing, and amazement at the story as told on the series was …. this was written in 1985 and described in awful detail a dystopian society that COULD well become a fact in the future or even near future. I have not read the novel “1984” written in the late 1940’s but apparently that is to a degree similar. It is certainly dystopian. Did Margaret Attwood rely on premonition or knowledge, or judgement based on global problems at that time, in writing this remarkable yet ‘awful ‘ book. She had a great deal to do with the production of the TV series too. Just as well, I think. The air of authenticity and proper scripting there.

    It is a very scary concept, and one that is not altogether outside the realms of possibility, especially when we look at what is horrid in the world today ( not much joy at the moment is there ) … and the fight that women rightly are putting up for equality, respect, and genuine kindness and opportunity, towards a large proportion of women. Some women who have themselves in top jobs … albeit having possibly displaced a male ( oh good grief ) would probably not find anything much disturbing about it. I repeat “ probably would not be moved too much – but many senior top exec. type employed women would indeed have some strong reactions .

    Well done, to the author of this article.

  4. leefe

    Given the news coming out of the US about the draft decision on Roe v Wade, Atwood’s story is all the more pertinent.

  5. Arnd

    Voting is our superpower.

    Not much of a superpower, then? “If voting could change anything, they’d make it illegal!”, goes a quote variously attributed to Mark Twain and Emma Goldman, amongst others. And Marx considered parliament no more than a committee to administrate the collective interests of the ruling class, and elections a process to determine who shall misrepresent the interests of the electorate.

    Not much joy, from those who have bothered to lift the bonnet of democracy and have a look at what really drives it.

    Unless and until “we the people” realise that voting can, at best, be only a starting activity, and that to enable real change requires a lot more effort than just that, western style “liberal democracies” shall continue on its inexorable downward trajectory towards the tyranny of manipulative populist majoritarianism.

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