Despite a slow start, I’m getting through my summer reading list and recently finished the Handmaid’s Tale. Near-future dystopian novels are always my favorite (other than personal development — what does that say about me?), and this is definitely one of the most grim.
If you’ve heard anything about the book or the TV show, it’s pretty easy to imagine the plot. Government failure results in religious authoritarian regime that makes all women second-class beings strictly for reproductive purposes only. The book is grossly specific, and it’s sad. There is no happy ending, and much of it forces the reader to come up with their own conclusions. Cognitive closure at best.
I highly recommend reading it, but I don’t foresee myself watching the TV show. For one, I seldom watch TV and don’t have Hulu to watch it anyway. Secondly, I don’t want to see the imagery. Imagining the dark plots is enough for me, but I also don’t want the plots to change while watching the TV show. Shows are never consistent, and especially since the book was written in the 1980s, I like the perspective of Margaret Atwood. You reflect on behaviors that have changed since, like smoking while pregnant, or haven’t changed since, like Playboy bunnies.
Most of my reflections on the book involve people’s courage to speak up. With Trump growing increasingly violent, I feel like more people are unfortunately afraid to speak out against his behaviors. Those who have been against Trump since Day 1 are getting louder, but they’re losing their rationality. More people are becoming extremist, and that’s going to prevent any sort of compromise. The people who are passively supporting Trump are the ones who are allowing the alt-right to become stronger. This is not just America, though — this is the rise of nationalism worldwide.
Upon reading the Handmaid’s Tale, I reiterate the importance of staying true to your own values, but also questioning your values in regards to other humans. At what cost do others need to be hurt that you sacrifice some of your own safety?
“Freedom, like everything else, is relative.”
I encourage you to look past your own privilege and consider the potential consequences of cutting Planned Parenthood and health coverage for women.
++ Mary K