The Handmaid’s Tale explored how the little world of women works. While men work in broad strokes, women work in small, detailed brush strokes like a Master working on an oil painting. Men are more exhibitionist in their cruelty whilst women are more prone to grand schemes usually taking place in the shadows. Watching in pride while their little drama begins to play out. So the grand ol’ question is why do women do this? Is it biology? Or is it social conditioning? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers.
In Margaret Atwood’s masterpiece she talks about how the wives scheme, plot, and plan against the innocent victims – other women, in this case the Handmaids. This being a work of fiction depicts very well the reality of the world and how women lose in the debate on feminism. “How can women expect equal rights and respect when they don’t even treat other women the same way?” Yup, we keep contradicting what we are fighting for.
Handmaid’s tale shows us that women with a certain dominance within the society choose to opress and condemn a group of women who are already ostracized. The handmaids are the baby makers for these sterile commanders and wives. It is also important to note how a woman’s worth is measured by their fertility, and these very women who are raped are looked upon as evil, promiscous, she devils – classic victim blaming. A double standard that I’ll never understand and what I found similar to that of The Help by Kathryn Stockett, another great book, wherein, the black maids look after white children but are not even allowed to use their white employer’s bathroom, because they carry “diseases”, but it is completely acceptable to handover – nay – dump white children to their care whilst the white parents go about their day.
So…can this petty mentality of womanhood be changed? I don’t believe so. I don’t even think this would change in the near future. Women no matter their age, ethinicity and, social standing have mistreated another woman at some point of their life. It is ok to have feelings of jealousy or envy, we are all human and these are very human emotions to have, but that does not mean you should act on them to make another person’s life miserable. You have the power to analyse your negative emotions and make a rational, fair decision on how you must act.
Why go through all that trouble to plot another woman’s demise when you can use that same energy and time for something more productive and maybe useful for yourself and others? In today’s society it is more important than ever to hold each other’s hands and encourage each other to achieve success and be our best selves instead of putting each other down. The TV series version of The Handmaid’s Tale shows us a snippet of how both Mrs. Waterford and June, the Handmaid who is also the protagonist of the story, work together to achieve something good even though they were breaking many rules. If thats what it takes for women to work together, then we should do it, break these old misogynistic rules which are set by the patriarchy, followed by an older generation of women who belive they decide the future of younger women and walk into a secure and glorious future – but is it that simple?
The Handmaid’s Tale eerily depicts a future we are slowly sliding into. This is why I’ll always love this work of speculative fiction. Margaret Atwood explores the pattern of how history will keep repeating it self if due steps towards change are not taken, but change is hard and it will take alot of work to ensure a future where later generations of women will not be treated how we are treated today.
Photo taken from an official poster of The Handmaid’s Tale.