Her best known book, "The Handmaid's Tale" has one of her most, if not her most, common theme: the struggle of a woman against patriarchy. It takes place in a dystopian society in which women have no rights and its protagonist, Offred, is a handmaid, which is a word for a woman used as a concubine for elite, rich, but infertile couples to reproduce. The nameless, "Commander," and his wife, Serena Joy, a former gospel singer, use Offred during the appropriate point in her menstrual cycle each month, to have sex with the Commander while Serena holds Offred's hands and sings a lovely hymn. I challenge you to find a more hammer-the-reader-over-the-head feminist allegory!
Another of her common themes is that of women as meat or ornaments. Things to be taken in by the senses, but not yet possessed of humanity, much less equality. In "The Edible Woman," the hero, a woman named Marian, is engaged to a lawyer who treats her like arm candy but will be a fine husband and a good choice to make Marian's life a social success. But she also has feelings for Duncan, an aimless English Lit grad. Marian starts to realize the helplessness her patriarchal society has forced onto her as she sees Peter, (her fiancé, and another word for penis), cutting a steak. She finds that she can no longer eat meat. Then she can't eat at all as the wedding approaches. She thinks of herself as icing on Peter's cake, then bakes a cake shaped like a woman. Peter doesn't eat it and the wedding is called off. Marian finds she can eat the cake and in the end, Duncan finishes it. Again, quite an obvious statement about feminism, although not so realistic. As many a Duncan, including myself, can tell you, in real life, Marian marries the dick.
If you don't have time to read a whole book, how about the poem, "Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing." Admittedly, a hard sell, it paints a pole dancer as a goddess of femininity. But read it, analyze it, research it, don't take anyone's word for it. There are some fantastic lines in this poem! I can't say I remember reading it or any of Atwood's specific poems during my education, but I DO remember reading "The Handmaid's Tale" and some of her poetry and deciding I liked the poetry better. It may have had a lot to do with the fact that I had a billion other things to read and the poetry was shorter, but do yourself a favour and read this poem!
The start is the defence of the woman who chooses making money dancing "naked as a meat sandwich," over 8 hours a day of standing, getting varicose veins for minimum wage. The narrator/stripper admits it is exploitation but doesn't admit to any shame other women would tell her she should feel. "It's the smiling tires me out the most," says the dancer/goddess, and the pretence that she can't hear the patrons' speech, all warty gutterals as obvious as a slab of ham. They try to reduce her to components and objectify her, but they can't see through her. "Nothing is as opaque as absolute transparency." In her total nudity she hides her secret divinity. Her dance is a torch song. Touch her and you'll be burned.
Can't you hear a room full of feminists, (most of whom don't HAVE the option the goddess speaks of and would be met with shouts of "PUT IT ON" if they tried to exercise it), slagging this poem or the dancer, if she were real, without having read it or heard her? It's the easy thing to do. And they have the support of their fellow feminist club members. But if they'd just think before becoming indignant and outraged and firing out dismissive generalizations, "whore!" "sell-out!" "shame!" "get a REAL job!" etc., they might see that this poem is not very different in theme than the two novels described above. It's the idea that all the women have to resort to desperate measures to attain any small freedom they can get. Extreme measures like fleeing to Canada, (Offred), abandoning the easy life, (Marian), or workin' the pole. I'm not saying this is a legitimate idea or that I agree or disagree with it. But it is the height of moronity to describe it as anti-feminist. Yet, somehow, that's what people are doing. Or at least characterizing the writer of these feminist statements as a traitor to the cause.
"In times of extremes, extremists win. Their ideology becomes a religion, anyone who doesn't puppet their views is seen as an apostate, a heretic or a traitor, and moderates in the middle are annihilated." This is a direct quote from Margaret Atwood's column in the Globe And Mail that was written about author and UBC creative writing instructor who was fired under very similar circumstances to those of James Damore, the hero of my last post.
Margaret Atwood wrote, a bit tongue-in-cheek, an article asking whether or not she was a bad feminist. Reason being she has been labelled as such by many TL;DR Susan Atkinses of feminism for denouncing UBC's guilty until proven innocent, then its guilty ever AFTER being found innocent process of dealing with sexual assault specifically regarding Steven Galloway, the UBC professor, or at least one of them, in question. He was fired for PR, same as Damore, there is little doubt of that in all but the minds of the mindless. And how fierce the mindless can be in their wrongness!
The above reference to Susan Atkins, if you don't know or haven't Googled her, is quite dated so I'll explain. See, there was this guy name Charles Manson? Ever heard of him? Seriously though, have you ever HEARD him? Is it just me or does he sound exactly like George W. Bush? Although I'd unprofessionally diagnose BOTH as socio or psycho pathic, depending on nature or nurture, I'm not talking about what they say, I'm talking about their voices. Eeeeerily similar!
Correct me if I'm wrong but I think Manson is telling the truth, right? He didn't actually kill any of the people, he just brainwashed his "family" into doing the dirty work for him. Back in the time he was disappointed for not making it big as a rock star, he used the prevailing love and trust your brother and sister, along with psychedelic drugs to distort his victims' realities enough that they'd gladly kill or die for him. And he got his revenge in his messed up mind for being passed over by the music business. I wonder if this is what would have happened to George W. if he had lost the elections. Anyway, nowadays, as I touched on in the previous post, it's laziness, apathy and general undereducation that allows for false information to be seeded into brains along with work and social responsibilities sucking the time that could be used to stay informed and intelligent enough to prevent those false seeds from taking root.
What seems to be the result is these various echo chambers of people who agree on specific issues and whether or not they're right or wrong or have any thought behind their opinions, want to force them onto others by shaming those who disagree and calling them names. As I have previously lamented on this blog, we're back in kindergarten and folks, we're FAILING!
So to get back to just ONE group like this, the one that has gone so far as to alienate one of its greatest proponents through their overzealous foot-shooting, do you suppose the feminists, (no, NOT the feminists, just the stupid, extreme whackos who belong to that club), are actually operating outside of, and even in conflict with their club's directives in other specific cases? There is no shortage of examples we could use here. Celebrities accused of sexual improprieties lately? No shortage at all! Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis CK, Gene Simmons, some NFL players, Bill Cosby, Geraldo Rivera, Garrison Keillor, Sylvester Stallone, Al Franken, Aziz Ansari, Ron Jeremy... here's a list of over 100 just from 2017.
Now you may look at that list and say, "GASP! Garrison Keillor? Bill Cosby? Two wholesome, family values guys!" But I'm inclined to look at it and say, "Ron Jeremy? WTF?"
But seriously, when you look at examples like James Damore and Steven Galloway who were obviously attacked by extremists and fired by people who feared those extremists, it casts a shadow over all the accusations legitimate or not. Galloway was actually found not guilty in a legal investigation and STILL a known feminist can't support him without being called into question.
How long before we stop being scared of them and tell these extremists who call themselves feminists that they are hurting, not helping their stated cause? But again, we must ask ourselves if they are really that stupid. IS feminism their cause at all? Or do they just want to get as many men fired as they can? A lot of jobs are opening up that, in today's more favourable to women than ever job market, can be filled by women. Do you think this has never entered the heads of these crackpots? Or am I just a jerk. A misogynist.
Yeah, me and Margaret Atwood both.