Wednesday, July 10, 2019
May he be safe always.
Anyone watching The Handmaid's Tale, the TV series depicting author Margaret Atwood's dystopian society in which women exist only to function as child bearing chattel, domestic servants, submissive wives, and sex workers for high placed men? The story is set in a barely fictional part of the U.S. that has been renamed Gilead to denote its supposed adherence to biblical principles. The series has ruined the word Gilead for my daughter and two nieces, who cannot hear the word now without thinking of it as short hand for evil. I explain to them that the old Negro spiritual "Balm in Gilead," referred to Gilead as a place of spiritual healing, but The Handmaid's Tale takes the line "There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul," and turns it on its head, making women the universal sinners, who must live under the dominion of men. Some wives and "aunties" are complicit in subjugating and brutalizing their fellow women. These, I suppose, are the women who would have voted for Trump in our current universe, which isn't really parallel, because aspects of that fictional world, and our real one, are starting to converge.
If you're familiar with The Handmaid's Tale, you'll understand the question my daughter asked her dad the other day. She said, "So, Daddy, what is our Canada plan?" She wasn't actually joking, but was referring to the "underground railroad" in Margaret Atwood's dystopia, in which handmaids and other brutalized women and their sympathizers escape to Canada. To offer some context, there's a meme going around that started with this tweet:
I'm suffering from a kind of whiplash trying to keep up with all the catastrophes swirling around us. Yesterday, someone referred to what our nation is going through right now as "massive trauma." I thought of those brown children crowded into cages at the southern border, denied basic human hygiene, with reports of them being trafficked by border agents as rich businessmen line their pockets with taxpayer money paid to them for these for-profit concentration camps. Massive trauma. It gonged in me as truth.