Friday, August 12, 2011

Reading THE HANDMAID'S TALE: II (by res ipsa)

I just finished the book and wanted to throw out two questions.

First, is the book anti-feminist?

Offred's mother evokes the feminists of the 1970s. She wants to live in "a world of women". She gets that, alright. When you first encounter those women, they are burning books, albeit pornography, but books nonetheless, alongside fundamentalists. Who co-opted whom? The post-revolutionary system placates fundamentalist women for the benefit of men, but no one -- neither the Aunts nor the Commanders -- seem content. The Aunts continuously try to convince the Handmaids -- or is it themselves? -- that, "Things are better this way". If things really are better this way, would you really have to keep saying so?

Second, what does it take to engineer and enforce oppression?

This system of oppression is for the benefit of men, but it relies on women to enforce it. What does it take to achieve such a pernicious hold on people? Did the men engineer it -- or just sit back and take note of the aforementioned alliance and watch the women destroy themselves? Yes, I'm talking here about the book -- and about any number of other oppressive systems. When liberals sneer words like "Obamabot" and "Firebagger" are Republicans laughing?