A Handmaid's Tale


When I read Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale, a dystopian view of an America led by Christian religious zealots I was stunned at her creativity.  The title comes from the common Biblical practice of a female servant as a stand-in for the Jewish matriarchs who had problems conceiving a child.  They would sleep with with the man of the family to serve as an incubator for the next generation, in some cases the children being credited to the wife.  The first incident of this was Hagar, Sarah's servant who brings Ishmael into the world.  But there were two in the generation of Jacob who had children with up to 4 women while only 2 are recorded as our mothers.  This book saw a steady marching backwards of the role of women and the control government had over them.  All for their own good.

So we are now living at a time where women are under attack in many ways.  Transvaginal ultrasounds are being touted as a way to help give women an informed decision when getting an abortion, while forcing them to have something inserted into their bodies against their will.  (In some circles we have called this rape).  But rape is even being challenged as in Georgia one who calls the police on a rapist is now called an accuser but if you say someone robbed you you are still considered a victim.  Places are making it harder for domestic violence victims to get prosecutions and in Arizona a law now considers you pregnant the day of the end of your last period when counting for a legal abortion.  This can decrease the actual number of weeks pregnant by two making it harder for women to get abortions.  Cuts to Head Start, Planned Parenthood and defunding women's health programs have all led to an attack on women's freedom.  Just like Atwood's novel, the government is forcing women into a second class citizen role and saying it is for their own good.

Oh women have spoken up, Sandra Fluke for example, who spoke about the use of birth control medication to treat other complications in women.  For her effort the Republican mouth pieces called her slut and just the other day one particularly nasty woman named Monica Crowley, who I think has a serious personality disorder, made a homophobic remark about Fluke's engagement, suggesting that a woman who speaks truth to Republican power must be a lesbian.

This is the new face of the Republican party and it is only going to get worse.  We spent days on a faux outraged over a statement that a women with 7 servants helping her raise her children and a billionaire husband couldn't possibly understand the plight of working women, but there is hardly the same level of vitriol over the fact that there are women who's health care is a punchline to the "I've got mine" crowd.

People say this next election is about the economy.  It isn't to me.  It is about the very real danger of a far right wing party that wants to force women back into the kitchen or on their backs in the bedroom.  Silent unless they tow the company line.  The GOP wants good servants.  Atwood's book forced fertile women into the role of baby producers for the infertile in power.  Much like the role of the Biblical women attached to Abraham and Jacob.  I wonder what they would think if their environmental policies make their wives sterile.


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