Review: Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale

the handmaid's taleI devoured, in the most literal sense or whatever, The Handmaid’s Tale. This dystopian depiction of a sad, alternate, maybe future reality was my undoing for about two days, because that’s how long it took me to finish reading this gem. Basically, after what was about 10 or 12 hours of violent torture, psychological in manner, I finished the masterpiece of Margaret Atwood.
To say it defies society is the least of your problems. With a material that echoes the depths of 1984 and Brave New World, The Handmaid’s Tale tells the story of an unnamed woman appointed as a (shocker!) handmaid in the house of a Commander, in order to (real shocker!) bear his children.
If the depiction of the sanitary sex scenes won’t perturb you, I really don’t know what will. If you find amusing the living arrangement of an old wife with the assigned mistress, I’m pretty sure your sense of humor is faulty. If you think religious power is the best, then maybe this book spells out the best future for you, so maybe you should give it a go.
But above all else, Margaret Atwood‘s piece transcends its bleak tones and finds a way to leave an impression on you.
The unnamed protagonist and narrator, identified as Offred – because she belonged to Fred (get it?!), goes back and forth to a past when she was allowed to read, have a job, disagree with her husband and raise her child, as opposed to a present time diluted by war, famine, infertility and religion.
Everything is just survival, but not the „zombies gonna getcha” type. People learn to survive the rule of not speaking unless asked to, women learn that they are only walking wombs, coquetry is not permitted, of course, and neither are alcohol, tobacco and coffee. Clothes are meant to inspire chastity, legs are not meant to be shaven and eyes are bound to look only down.
The Handmaid’s Tale is a difficult read, especially for someone that enjoys the benefits of a colorful wardrobe, as opposed to the „uniforms” presented in the book, and the mere triviality of having money and use them as you please seems distant and obliterated in this book.
Offred‘s prison-like room sometimes reminded me of Winston‘s apartment in 1984, and her thoughts loudly reflected his. With great terror I assisted to a very misogynist way of living, one that scared and scarred me, and Offred‘s thoughts were so female-like, that sometimes I thought „am I that crazy? am I truly like that? are all women like that?!”.
Margaret Atwood surprised in an indecent Polaroid of the times the hate, the fear, the magical behind the reason of being a woman, and she did this effortlessly beautiful.
Here’s to never having the chance of experiencing this.

Superhero Boycott

Or Why Your Typical Hollywood Sexism Keeps Me from Giving You Money.

I was never a big DC fan, but I do follow up rather closely when it comes to some of the Marvel catalog. While I do not posses the knowledge to fully support my statement, I do understand one thing: both DC and Marvel have a habit to underplay their potential powerful female leads.

I’ll start with one of my favorite things ever: X-Men. You’ll say: „wait, but there are lots of girls and women in that universe!„. I have to agree with you, but only on a superficial level. There are almost three female characters that can be considered developed in X-Men. I’m talking about Mystique, of course, Jean Grey and Storm.

Each of these ladies grows and moves around the ethic scale with unease and each of these passages seems almost natural and real, if they weren’t so cringe worthy most of the times. However, none of them is allowed to step into the limelight and steal the show. We always have Professor X and Magneto, Wolverine and Cyclops, Deadpool and Nightcrawler, and a lot of middle school brawls of pimply boys.

To be fair, their origin was appointed to a time and place when women were relegated to secondary places, such as love interest and sidekick statuses, so it’s understandable…

However, the new Mystique, portrayed by the awesome chameleon that is Jennifer Lawrence is not allowed to be the star of her own movie, even though with this it can truly transpire that her character is one cursed with issues and is the one that needs some focus, developmentally wise.

Fine, let’s admit that maybe a franchise focusing on tons of mutants, both male and female, is not quite what the boys paying the tickets want to transform into girls’ playground.

But there’s Batgirl, and Supergirl, and Wonder Woman! Even villainesses, such as Catwoman! They deserve some love, and at some point, someone was willing to give it to them. And it failed miserably, partly because the paying boys weren’t ready for this, but mostly because the men behind the cameras weren’t ready to WRITE proper female leads. What am I saying?! Characters, let’s do that before making them leads!

Female-Versions-of-AvengersFast forward a few years, until King of Nerds arrived, Mr. Joss Whedon himself.

A self proclaimed feminist, Whedon wrote one of my all time characters. Buffy. I have been a Buffy fan since the first time I saw it, while in middle school.

I have never seen such a beautifully crafted woman as was Buffy. Joss Whedon, ahead of his time, as usual, mastered the art of embroidering her with faults, including some regarding the scholar abilities of his lead, and managed to made her fierce, vulnerable, and awesome, while letting her enough time to explore herself, her friends, to experiment pain and loss and grief and despair, and allowed Buffy to grow into an awkward woman that has suffered along the way, made bad choices and stuck to her guns each and every time. Except for when she didn’t. Isn’t she beautiful like this? All human and REAL?!

Whedon also managed to create for his heroine a universe filled with powerful women, all given supernatural abilities, all given the responsibility of having to take care and help her grow, while growing up on their own. Don’t worry, boys, there are also men, equally beautifully crafted.

Buffy paved the way for the true heroine, now readily available and a sweet commodity, especially in the TV series. Lots of comediennes or, rather antithetic, drama queens, are piling up and taking over the cable. Some of these women, such as Tatiana Maslany‘s flock of clones, or Anna Silk‘s Lost Girl, or even Julie Benz‘s Amanda Rosewater or Gina TorresJessica Pearson (coincidentally, both actresses are Whedon alumni), prove there’s room and public willing to watch powerful women taking a stand.

People were ready for a woman fronted movie for years, and even applauded stuff like Erin Brokovich because it proved a point.

However, when it comes to the boys playground – the superhero comic book stand, a strong female centered movie is just not happening. No matter how special her abilities are, moviegoers just won’t see a Black Widow film anytime soon.


Because the big shots don’t think it’s the best thing ever… For their pockets.

Other related articles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

Even though the TV managed to squeeze some female characters with both brains and beauty, as well as weapon savvy and tech know-it-alls, series like Mad Men continue to rule the world from the shadows. Even though we have Agent Carter, and Tina Fey, and Fat Amy, the sidekick curse is still in bloom, and until someone decides to take a stand and make a movie (NOT A TV SHOW!) with a capable woman with both strengths and weaknesses, I decided to boycott whatever super-hero movie available.

I’m sick of the damsel in distress bit, a concept so old and overused that it’s beyond annoying to keep getting annoyed by it, so I figured it’s best I avoid any meeting that has Norse gods, men who can’t seem to manage their anger, bureaucrats way too cocky for their own good or sidekicks relegated to long-distance weaponry status. Even though this hot mess bears the name of my Lord and Savior, Mr. Whedon.

At this point, we can only hope that DC steps up and hands us what we want. At least, maybe this way, Marvel will start creating a supply for great female characters, and not let the demand waste itself away.