So, you know what’s creepy? Treating women as empty vessels. Vessels whose sole purpose is to become pregnant to continue on a specific race or religious group’s existence. You know what else is creepy? When the ritual surrounding getting those women pregnant involves a handmaid laying on a wives torso while the husband ejaculates inside of her.
Spoiler alert: this isn’t a happy book. It’s not full of hope, it’s not one woman fighting against a horrific, patriarchal society that only values her if she can produce a child. It’s not the Hunger Games, and Offred (the name, so disturbing) is not Katniss. This is a book that details the dullness of the life of the handmaid, that special class of women who were schooled together to become wombs for the elite. These women are not being allowed to read. They must accept being penetrated by the head of the house monthly. They go on daily chores covered head to toe, with literal side blinders on. They eat their meals in their rooms, alone.
When particularly draconian reproductive rights cuts are put into law, you’ll sometimes hear this book mentioned, and with good reason. The book may outline an extreme society, but disturbingly enough, it’s not so extreme as to be unimaginable. I don’t see the U.S. becoming Gilead as it does in the book, but I see the thinking that permeates that fictional society underlying so many of the anti-choice laws being proposed and passed these days. As I type this, the city of Albuquerque is voting on whether some reproductive rights should be taken away from the women who live there.
The writing in this book is heavy, but it didn’t take long to read. I think it’s a good book to read, although I can’t say I enjoyed it. It’s one of those books that is important, and I think should be added to the reading list of anyone who cares about our rights being slowly chipped away.