CulturePop Culture The Handmaid’s Tale Is No Dystopia

The Handmaid’s Tale Is No Dystopia

The Handmaid's Tale is not Atwood’s dystopia. This was then, this is now.

I write this as I finish the last episode in The Handmaid’s Tale series. I haven’t read the book, so forgive me if don’t sound learned enough.

For those of you who’ve seen it, you’d agree that it’s not only disturbing but also triggering in many ways. Maybe it would qualify as a horror series of some sort. The kind where you don’t close your eyes in fear but keep it wide open, in shock. The kind where memories haunt you during the day and dread keeps you up at night.

See, that’s what so striking about this series: It’s not so much the way in which it is taken (which is brilliant) but the chilling similarity to our current realities. No wait, our past realities too. I mean, isn’t this what marginalised, underprivileged women have been made to do for centuries now, including that of surrogacy and wet nursing?

Isn’t this what marginalised, underprivileged women have been made to do for centuries now, including that of surrogacy and wet nursing?

I had several overwhelming moments during the series, but my worst were those of the wives abusing their handmaids. Although a small part of me kept reasoning that it’s the system and not so much the individuals, I could not see how such brutality can be justified in any way. How can the wanting to have a family rid one of all compassion? How can women, who are all supposedly tender and ‘naturally’ kind, be so violent to another human being? And why, why is there so much obsession to reproduce?

See, we must understand that all of this has happened, is happening now, and will continue to happen if we don’t stop it. Married mothers, married women, married men, married anyone, who are willingly caught up in heteronormative structures of fucking and reproducing, need to do some serious introspection. I have no other way to put this, but really, how many babies will we keep having in the name of God’s bounty? How many ‘maids’ and ‘servants’ will we employ to keep our families well fed and taken care of? This is hypocritical, don’t you think? On one hand, we speak of feminism and the need to be free willed, and on the other, we want to be ‘career-oriented’ working mothers that ride on the backs of the underprivileged. We have gotten so comfortable; we have become a spineless lot.

why is there so much obsession to reproduce?

We are sitting in boardrooms discussing cost benefits over human rights. We rip people of their self-worth in the name of ‘constructive’ feedback. We keep asking the CVP (client value proposition) question, “What do you bring to the table? Why do you think you’d matter?” We glorify hard work; we recommend that the disprivileged work harder and harder, while the others get to be politically savvy. We abuse in the most sophisticated of ways. We keep caste, race, and class alive in the name of networking. We are pretending like it’s some new shit; but really, we’ve only just rehashed old, stale wine.

And the men, oh the powerful men of our world. The series is disgustingly real; it almost kills me to realise that this world continues to love men who are inhuman and endlessly brutal, only because they seem to be holding all the power. I strongly believe this is at the core of cis-male privilege — they are loved, no matter what. They can be murderers and rapists, they can gaslight and abuse, they can sit with their feet up and fuck around the house, they can be just about anything they want to be. But they’ll all be loved, in all the ways possible.

Suit-clad, Rolex watch-wearing, high end, white/upper-class/upper-caste men in the boardroom that draft shitty policies, will be loved; progressive, liberal thought leaders that don’t share housework and childcare, will be loved; ministers that preach love and pray for world peace, but are abusive to their partners, will be loved. The rest of us though; we must work for love, we must deserve love, we must buy love, we must earn love, and we may still be denied love.

You see, this is not Atwood’s dystopia. This was then, this is now.

Also read: Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, A Visceral Experience

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This article was originally published here and is re-published with permission. 

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