With every new and outrageous anti-choice piece of legislation that gets introduced across America, we’re pretty sure we aren’t the only ones getting a creepy feeling that Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian sci-fi novel ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is becoming more of a reality every day. In March, women dressed up in red robes and white hoods like characters from the book and entered the Texas Senate floor to protest silently about an abortion ban bill being proposed.
And with the forthcoming April 26 release of the Hulu TV series of the same name, starring ‘Mad Men’s’ Elisabeth Moss and ‘Gilmore Girls’ Alexis Bledel, if you aren’t yet familiar with this story, you might want to get up to speed. The book explores the intersection of power, gender, and religious politics.
The story takes places in Gilead, a totalitarian society in what used to be part of the United States. Gilead is ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state, and is faced with environmental disasters and a plummeting birth rate. After a staged terrorist attack kills the President and most of Congress, the government is deposed and taken over by the oppressive and all controlling Republic of Gilead.
In a desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world, the few remaining fertile women are forced into sexual servitude. One of these women, Offred, is determined to survive the terrifying world she lives in, and find the daughter that was taken from her. Offred, now a Handmaid, serves the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules in hopes of ending this oppression.
This groundbreaking feminist work of 30 years ago is more relevant than ever today as we look at what is happening not just in the political landscape of reproductive rights, but other political issues. The recent missile attack on Syria as ordered by Donald Trump. The ongoing Russian interference allegation investigation. The appointment of extreme right-wing people to high government positions, notable for their anti-choice stance on women’s reproductive rights. The list goes on.
Are we about to witness a case of life imitating art? The idea of women being forced to reproduce against their choice and be in servitude to a male-dominated government is already the kind of narrative many reproductive justice advocacy groups and organizations are warning citizens about.
As part of the #resistance movement that is steadily gaining steam with every political action being taken by this administration, we can be prepared not just by being informed of what is happening, but looking to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ as a way to, perhaps, shock us into recognizing how extreme this situation could potentially become. And you don’t have to wait until April 26th either. Thanks to Audible’s free 30 day trial, you can listen to the ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ audiobook right now.
Narrated by author Margaret Atwood herself, as well as Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actress Claire Danes, the novel extends beyond the original final line, “Are there any questions?,” by adding the questions and answers that the people at that Symposium, occurring in 2195, might ask.
In fact, the Audible version is the best way to get acquainted with this story as The Huffington Post reports libraries across America are experiencing a surge in waitlists just to borrow the dystopian novel!
In an op-ed for The New York Times written in March, author Margaret Atwood pens an insightful piece about the conversations swirling about her novel, specifically in light of what is happening under the Trump Administration.
“In the wake of the recent American election, fears and anxieties proliferate. Basic civil liberties are seen as endangered, along with many of the rights for women won over the past decades, and indeed the past centuries,” she said.
Margaret goes through a list of questions she has been asked about her work, most notably whether it was a warning shot to future generations.
“Is ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ a prediction? That is the third question I’m asked — increasingly, as forces within American society seize power and enact decrees that embody what they were saying they wanted to do, even back in 1984, when I was writing the novel. No, it isn’t a prediction, because predicting the future isn’t really possible: There are too many variables and unforeseen possibilities. Let’s say it’s an antiprediction: If this future can be described in detail, maybe it won’t happen. But such wishful thinking cannot be depended on either,” she wrote.
But it is also not outrageous to think that this extreme kind of scenario, the ultimate objectification and devaluation of women’s bodies, lives and choices, could become reality, as part of the the core story is based on America’s own foundation.
“Back in 1984, the main premise seemed — even to me — fairly outrageous. Would I be able to persuade readers that the United States had suffered a coup that had transformed an erstwhile liberal democracy into a literal-minded theocratic dictatorship? In the book, the Constitution and Congress are no longer: The Republic of Gilead is built on a foundation of the 17th-century Puritan roots that have always lain beneath the modern-day America we thought we knew,” she wrote.
If you weren’t THAT worried about the state of women’s reproductive rights in America before, but now you are, don’t be alarmed, be informed. Download your free Audible copy of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ today, and take a look at the Hulu trailer below in anticipation of the release of its series:
This is a sponsored conversation written by us on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all ours.