WARNING: If you know nothing about The Handmaid’s Tale, there are some mild spoilers in here.
Ladies, you’re probably enjoying watching Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, a (formerly) dystopian novel set in the “future,” where, after an epidemic of infertility, a totalitarian government has taken over and is forcing women to bear children for infertile couples in power.
You may have read the novel when it came out in the ’80s and felt a sense of relief that you didn’t live in a country that would do such a thing. But now, as it becomes less likely that President Trump will finish his term and we face the possibility of a Pence presidency, it’s time to decide which role you’ll play in our inevitable future in Atwood’s Gilead. (It’s just right outside of Boston, so start looking at airfares now for the best deals.)
It’s hard to decide. I’m still fertile, so I could conceivably do the Handmaid’s job.
Plus: I look great in red.
Minus: Velvet would be pretty oppressive in the summer.
Plus: Cute bonnet! And who really uses their peripheral vision?
Minus: State-mandated intercourse with a stranger while lying in the lap of another woman seems awkward.
So that’s a wash.
I sometimes teach classes, so the role of Aunt—the pious women who indoctrinate and train Handmaids at the re-education centers—might work for me.
Plus: My life could use some structure.
Minus: Brown washes me out.
Plus: Their use of cattle prods seems like a great shortcut for inattentive students.
Minus: Would preclude my being the “cool teacher” who sometimes swears and doesn’t use a cattle prod.
Dang. That’s also out.
Of course, everyone would be clamoring to be a Commander’s Wife, but could I cut the muster?
Plus: I love little cucumber sandwiches.
Minus: Is eating them enough of a trade for the most interesting part of my day being whether I can get my French Twist just so, and then that other thing where I give implied consent once a month to subjugating another woman to be raped by my husband?
Also, I’m a “spring,” and that cool, teal tone they wear is clearly for “winters.” I’d be a terrible Commander’s Wife.
So as far as contributing (female) members of society, that leaves Marthas. Marthas are either too old to give birth or infertile, so they cook and clean.
Plus: Cleaning is great cardio. I would have amazing core strength.
Minus: No personal agency seems like a huge bummer.
Plus: I would learn a ton of new recipes.
Minus: I just can’t let go of the whole “personal agency” thing.
UGH. It’s too hard to choose!
But I just realized the real beauty: When this finally happens (and let’s be honest—with the anti-abortion laws being passed in state legislatures across the country, we’re super close to forcing women to have babies they don’t want anyway), we won’t have to choose! The choice will be made for us.
That is such a relief.