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  • Writer's pictureLa Crimson Femme

Review: The Handmaid's tale by Margaret Atwood

Years ago, I read book because it is on the feminist must read list. Yes, there is a list and there is a manifesto somewhere too. As a new wave feminist, I roared with my sisters and read this book with much chest thumping. As I look back now almost 2 decades later, I cringe at the idealist narrowminded feminazi that I was at the time. Looking back at this book, I say the rating stands because it was at the stage where I was changing my mind about things as I received more experiences in life. In addition, I learned the realities of a country which did this to their women, in real life. Warning, this review is going to be difficult for most people to read or even realize what is happening and has been happening for the last 3 decades. Specifically, how women have been systematically stripped of their education, rights and freedom and more importantly, few seem to care or even acknowledge the marginalization of these women.

This book is set in a dystopian world after the States have fallen. We are back to a more "religious" set in time where 2nd marriages don't count and those who have children with a divorced man are automatically considered whores and any children they had with the men are ripped away and given to more deserving women who are in their 1st marriage to their 1 and only husband. *key eye rolling here*

This book is written from a point of view that is extremely misandristic and doesn't really paint women in a good light either. Women in this book are petty twats that only want to make other women's lives miserable. I would say that half the problem with this society is that they women in power are just as horrid as the men. How is this even possible? Why would we ever regress to this point? And how could Offred who is basically named Offred because she's the human birthing unit to the guy Fred who can't conceive with his wife... end up like this? This entire book seems incredulous and a cautionary tale of what could happen. Now that I'm less feminazi and more original feminist, (yes there is a difference), I can see what this tale is trying to warn us about. Whilst we scoff at this scenario in the Americas - this means USA and Canada, I wonder how many Westerns know that back in the 1970s, Iranian women were treated almost as equals as their men?

This book came out in 1986. Did the Iranian revolution back in the late 70s and early 80s inspire Ms. Atwood to write this series? Many actually use book as a weapon against Christianity in the West. This book series even made it to TV which I have not watched. Others have used the book against a new USA supreme court justice because of the word "handmaid" which is used in many different religions and other contexts. What I haven't seen is a single person mention The Stolen Revolution or Iranian women before and after. For those who find this book "science fiction", sadly, the Human Rights Watch reports the following in their article.

"Women’s Rights, Children’s Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity

Iranian women face discrimination in personal status matters related to marriage, divorce, inheritance, and decisions relating to children. A married woman may not obtain a passport or travel outside the country without the written permission of her husband. Under the civil code, a husband is accorded the right to choose the place of living and can prevent his wife from having certain occupations if he deems them against “family values.” Iranian law allows girls to marry at 13 and boys at age 15, as well as at younger ages if authorized by a judge.

Over the past two years, authorities have prosecuted several women’s rights activists, including Yasaman Ariayi, Saba Kordafshari, Mojhgan Keshavarz, Monireh Arabshahi, and Farhad Meysami for their peaceful protests against compulsory hijab laws. On July 15, Saeed Dehghan, the lawyer of Alireza Alinejad, posted on Twitter that a revolutionary court has sentenced his client to eight years in prison on charges of assembly and collusion act against national security, insulting the supreme leader, and propaganda against the state. The sentencing appears to be a retaliatory act to silence Alinejad’s sister, Massih Alinejad, a prominent political activist based abroad campaigning against compulsory hijab laws."

For those who have read this book, does this sound familiar? So for all my sisters in our quest for equality, let's not only focus on what could happen in Western cultures in the event that our government falls. Let's also support the existing horrors our sisters face in other countries that read just like this book or worse. I know this isn't the usual book reviews I write, but this book made me think more outside of just the dystopian fantasy and see what is going around globally. This book is recommended to readers who want to see a different perspective and then see how it is happen right now in different parts of the world. Countries which used to have the same freedoms for all their citizens ... just like we do in Northern America.


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