CAMPUS LIFE EDITOR
Imagine a world where everything is monitored. Women’s bodies are being used only to populate the earth. They have to be protected, covered, and secure because they are is seen as weak,.Their bodies are is just objects, as they feel as if they do not have a choice. They do not receive an education because they don’t want them getting ideas to escape. If they disobey the law they are beaten brutally, and if they follow orders, it kills them inside. The main character Offred rebels against such a world in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
Offred lives in a totalitarian society called the Republic of Gilhead. Her job is being a handmaid, meaning she conceives a child with a man if he and his spouse cannot conceive a child on their own.
While living in the Republic, Offred has flashbacks of her mother, who was a feminist that participated in protests, and her husband and daughter, whom she was taken away from during this conformation move. She and the other women begin to rebel by learning how to read, becoming independent, and becoming part of a resistance called the “Mayday” in order to seek freedom and individuality.
The stories of Offred and the women in the novel follow their experiences with sex and sexual pleasure, as well as their victimization in the face of rape and domestic violence. Because topics such as sex, rape, and domestic violence were taboo when it was published in 1985, Atwood’s novel was met with strong criticism.
In 2007, Time Magazine released an article called “Top 10 Book Controversies,” and Attwood’s novel was number 10. Time staff said the reason this book was banned was because in 2006, A Judson Texas High School superintendent banned the novel from an advanced placement English curriculum after a parent complained it was “sexually explicit and offensive to Christians.” A few years later, the book was banned once more due to its controversial content being “too graphic.”
Though The Handmaid’s Tale was written almost 30 years ago, these themes are still relevant to this day. The characters’ bodies in this novel were seen just as baby-making machines and they did not have a say over conceiving a child. In addition, abortion was looked down upon in the books, and still is today.
On the day of Trump’s Inauguration, Vibe.com wrote the article.“What Is The Future Of Reproductive Rights Under Trump’s Administration?” about how both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence want to overturn Roe vs. Wade and get rid of Planned Parenthood. Pence said, “We’ll see Roe v. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.” Immediately after that, donations were being made to support Planned Parenthood. The refusal of reproduction rights for women is what Atwood feared. Like in her novel, people are looking at a woman not as an individual being, but as a simple baby-making machine that has no choice.
Hulu recently announced that the novel will be turned into a TV show to be released in late April. The show will consist of 10 episodes in one season. Some of the actors will include Elisabeth Moss from Mad Men, Joseph Fiennes from American Horror Story, and Alexis Bledel from Gilmore Girls.
Esquire.com has a lot to say in their article “Why The Handmaid’s Tale Is Destined to Be 2017’s Dystopian Hit.” The article discusses how the airing of The Handmaid’s Tale show is important for 2017 because Offred’s struggles run parallel in so many ways to the struggles women face today.
Reporter Emma Dibdin interviewed Elizabeth Moss, who will be playing Offred, about what it was like filming during the first few weeks after Trump’s election.
“I worked [on the show] the day after the election... It was very difficult to stand there and have him [Finnes] say that to me and play my reaction to that,” said Moss in reference to Finnes’s lines of inequality directed at Offred. “and not feel something more than I think I would have felt otherwise. We [the cast and crew] are fascinated and horrified by the parallels.” The show is really trying to open the eyes of people in this time, because the issues that are covered in this series are so important to cover the rights of women.
Whether it is 1985 or 2017, Atwood’s novel is making an impact. Her themes of women’s reproductive rights, inequality, and women’s individuality are resurfacing more in hopes for a better world for women. As women around the world marching for equality and representation that align with Atwood’s beliefs, let’s echo their chant; “Her body, her choice!”