The Handmaid’s Tale Revisited

The Handmaids TaleIt was with apprehension and trepidation that I decided to watch the new Hulu version of Margaret Atwood’s novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” this week. I read this book decades ago so I had some idea of what to expect. This is a story about a frightening future USA society where women are only valued for their breeding potential, or as accessories for male entertainment.  This dystopia is called Gilead:  “In Gilead, the bodies of fertile women are politicized and controlled. The North American population is falling as more men and women become infertile (though in Gilead, legally, it is only women who can be the cause of infertility). Gilead’s treatment of women is based upon a narrow, fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible, meaning that women are the property of and subordinate to their husband, father, or head of household. They are not allowed to do anything that would grant them any power independent of this system. They are not allowed to vote, hold a job, read, possess money, or own anything, among many other restrictions.”  – Wikipedia

OK, so most would say that could never happen, but then I also never thought I would see an American president respect and defend neo-Nazis like he did last year. I never thought I would see a president’s wife whose only claim to fame is a modeling career. Women are most definitely accessories for male arrogance and pleasure in Trump’s “pussy-grabbing” World.

The methods of mind-control are what fascinate me most in this version of Ms. Atwood’s story.  I have been exploring the psychology of mind-control for decades in my studies of Chinese history, in situations like the Jim Jones mass suicide in 1978 in Guyana, and in my own extremely disturbing Outward Bound-like experience back in the 1980s when a team leader nazied-out on me…

Trust me, you do not know what you would do when all of your power to determine your own fate is taken away. Group shaming is one of the most powerful tools in the arsenal of the terrorist.

I never forgot the part of Ms. Atwood’s novel where all women suddenly had no money and therefore no power. They all lost their jobs at once and their money was given over to the men in their life, only the beginning in the police state of Gilead.


This story really does symbolize one of my worst case scenarios for our culture. Like something from a terrible dream, I fear my own neighbors would some day take away everything, because I do not believe or see the world the way they do.

State sponsored religion or beliefs of any kind are so dangerous.

Postscript: My thoughts days after watching this series. Although this series portrays life in a dystopic future, it also is an excellent portrayal of the life of most women in our past. Historically women were generally seen as either good workers and breeders, or simply entertainment for men.