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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"Nolite te bastardes carborundorum"

Translated, the title of my post means - "Don't let the bastards grind you down."

It's one of the many memorable lines in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.

Of course, those of you who've read this amazing book know that already. For those of you who don't...

I have to confess, I'd never read the story until a few weeks ago. I'd seen the movie, renting it from one of the video stores a few years back. It all seemed too weird, and I dismissed it.

Then came my increasing worry about what is popularly called this country's War on Women. The election added to my concern. While reading the comments on the major newsites, I came across several that mentioned The Handmaid's Tale - that we're headed for that kind of government here. I decided to get it.

Its parallels to what happens in patriarchal societies was chilling. More disturbing is what I continue to see happening in our country. Women's rights being questioned and challenged - as if that should even be a possibility. Women still being treated like second-class citizens in many ways. Just listen to what male politicians say on a daily basis.

Having recalled a part of the story from the film, I knew there would be violence in the book. However, the scene that literally took my breath away was when the heroine Offred (literally Of Fred - Fred being the guy who owned her now) couldn't take any money from her bank account. At that point in the story, the theocratic government hadn't taken over. The US was still supposedly a republic, even though the Constitution had been suspended because of purported terrorist attacks that killed the President and members of Congress. Offred calls the bank; she tries to get answers. That evening she learns that a law has been passed that women no longer have the right to their own money. If they needed any money, they must ask a male relative for it.

I felt myself shaking as I continued reading. Not in fear, in anger.

With lightning speed, other rights are taken away, one of which is the right for women to read. One of the male characters muses about education for females, then states, "We won't be making that mistake again."

Every woman needs to read this book - for herself, her mother, sisters, aunts, daughters, granddaughters. History has shown that freedoms fought for are often lost. What seems impossible today can become reality tomorrow.

We can't let that happen to us.

Tina Donahue


Paris said...

Very interesting and timely post. I had forgotten about this book but I think I'll be taking another look.
You make a good point by suggesting that all women read this book but I think it might be an eye-opener for the men in our lives.

Tina Donahue said...

Wouldn't it be nice if men actually read it and got it? In the book, the heroine stated that after the law was passed that women couldn't own property any longer (god, that still makes my blood boil), her husband Luke was trying to comfort her and said it was only property. She could see he wasn't taking it seriously because he hadn't lost anything. She had.

Katalina said...

Wonderful post Tina! Isn't that a shocking book?
A large portion of the world's women live a realty not too different.
What has been almost forgotten that was in my grandmother's time, in the US, she needed her husband's permission to open a bank account. And women were beaten unconscious, in the US, for demanding the right to vote.
No matter your party, no matter our differences, women need to be informed and vote. Your vote does matter.

Tina Donahue said...

Couldn't agree with you more, Kat. It's shocking that women once didn't have the right to vote. That they couldn't own property in this country. That in the event of a divorce, they had no right to their children. Women have to stand together for their rights. And yes, they have to vote.

jean hart stewart said...

This election scares me. At least we'll know the results soon, but the fact is women's rights are always precarious. As I say, damn scary.

Tina B said...

Wow is all I can say. I am ashamed to say that I have never heard of this book, but will definitely be looking into it now. It is definitely a scary time for woman. No one should be controlled in any fashion in my opinion. We do live in a "free" country after all.
Great post, Tina! I will be sharing it. :)

Tina Donahue said...

I'm with you on that, Jean. I've been reading Nate Silver's 538 blog and predictions, hoping they're right. If the Supreme Court goes ultra conservative it will set women's rights back hundreds of years.

Tina Donahue said...

Hi, Tina - The Handmaid's Tale is one of the few books I've read that stayed with me for weeks. I can't stop thinking about it. What happens in it is so horrifying because it's happening in the Middle East now. If women don't start standing up for their rights in this country, it could happen here.

Sandy said...

I read about the women's sufferage in this country in my 20's, and I guarantee you I never want that to happen again. Women were often beaten for fighting for their rights.

Tina Donahue said...

Women have been the scape goats for far too long. I am SOOOO happy President Obama won!! :)

Fiona McGier said...

Margaret Atwood also takes on genetically-altered foods in "Oryx and Crake", and her sequel written recently, "After the Flood". And the idea that some have to "tinker" with genetics to "improve" human beings.

In her dystopic futures, women always suffer at the hands of the men who are supposed to protect them. Men who are frightened often look around for someone to beat on, to make themselves feel more powerful. An unfortunate but consistent reality that females the world over still suffer from.

Tina Donahue said...

I just finished reading Oryx and Crake and After the Flood. Memorable and disturbing books. She's one helluva writer.

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