This is from the Babylon Bee of course, they who satire all things cultural and it made me laugh. ‘We Are Living In A Totalitarian Nightmare,’ Says Protester Freely Without Any Fear Of Government Retribution.”
They are poking fun at the girls in red, the Handmaid’s protesting our government, those seemingly unaware of the fact that if you can dress up, gather in front of your Gov to yell and scream, totalitarianism is probably not the system you are actually living under.
Sometimes I feel as if I may be the only person who really read the Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s classic, which does speak to the truth of reader subjectivity and how an author really only has so much control over how their words will be received by those devouring them.
I read the Handmaid’s Tale and two things jumped out at me immediately. First, it was a total matriarchy. People dispute that and yet this totalitarian, dystopian nightmare is almost exclusively controlled by women. Who holds all the power? The women.
You may totally blame my female arrogance for this great revelation, but the male characters are more like unwitting dupes in a game they don’t even understand. It is the women who really run the show.
Second, how does the story end? She is rescued by men. The Mayday van shows up, the resistance disguised as the authorities. In fact, nearly every bright spot in Offred’s life has to do with men, be it sneaking off to a Speak Easy on the down low to drink and cavort, or falling in love with Nick and the resistance.
I mean, let me be quite clear, slavery is not freedom, and yet where do the tiny glimpses of freedom seem to always live? In her encounters with men, culminating in her final encounter in which she is rescued and taken underground. Serena actually curses her as Offred passively follows the Eyes to the van waiting outside…..
We end on this most curious note, this odd academic analysis hundreds of years into the future, somewhat uncertain about what Offred’s final fate was, having only just unearthed her manuscript from an old army storage locker. We end on this most curious note, this unspoken truth that reveals far more than you might think at first glance. It is a truth that says, Offred’s final fate remains a mystery, but the faithfulness of Nick does not.
Wounded, battered soul that I am, I zeroed right in on that truth. How very curious that the one thing we can really count on, the one bit of certainty that holds the whole chaotic tale together is actually, the faithfulness of Nick.
The faithfulness of Nick is where all our hope lives.
It feels terribly unkind of me to read an author in a way that is almost voyeuristic, like a psychological invasion, gleaning bits of wisdom about the author herself rather than the imaginary characters in the tale or the progression of the story.
I’d apologize for that invasion, and yet keep in mind that is exactly how I read the bible, gleaning bits of wisdom about the nature of the Author Himself, by the nature of His very words. So, as uncomfortable as that might make me feel, it is also a great blessing. About all I can do is simply invite others to do the same to me, to expose myself and risk being analyzed and judged, too.
So, Margaret Atwood, intentionally or not, once really revealed a surprising truth about feminism to me. Feminists don’t hate men at all, they hate themselves. They don’t fear the patriarchy, they fear the matriarchy. They don’t hate “toxic masculinity,” they actually fear their own feminine response to it.
If you actually read feminist literature you will learn an often repressed truth, sometimes invisible even to the author herself, but what she finds the most repellent really reveals the truth of her whole unspoken story. What does she hate and fear? What you hate and fear always controls you. So, she hates the color pink. Her mother. Stay at home moms. Long hair. Her body. Marriage. Portrayals of femininity. And now these days she pretty much hates anything that can be labeled, “heteronormative.”
Often what they actually hate and fear is their own power, combined with the truth of their own vulnerability. It is almost tragically comical how Offred’s story does not change until she is finally in the pits of despair, contemplating suicide, trapped in her own passivity, unable to even resist in her own mind anymore. It is not until she completely surrenders her own autonomy, that Nick comes to the rescue.
So the Babylon Bee hit on the superficial comedy of the moment, the truth that just screams, if you are free to gather, free to disagree, free to protest, you are so NOT living under totalitarianism. But they missed a much deeper truth, the sheer irony of women and girls actually donning the very uniform of a totalitarian matriarchy in order to protest……their fears of a dystopian matriarchy that does not value women.
Ai yi yi.
Or as IB might point out as gently as possible, ladies you are acting kind of like a little wind up toy that can’t stop walking face first into the wall. Stop it, just stop it.