Since the 2016 election, Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale has become increasingly relevant. Book sales have increased by over 200% since the start of the election cycle, and the novel, published in 1985, currently ranks alongside new releases on Amazon’s Best Sellers list. A new edition of the book is coming soon with the premiere of the Hulu TV series adaptation, and Atwood has written a final exclusive chapter that will only be available on Audibles.com
The Handmaid’s Tale has returned to national spotlight as it serves as inspiration for many during this sharply divided sociopolitical climate. In the months since the election, frequent protests and demonstrations have overwhelmed public attention. Women have gathered together in numerous cities throughout the country in dedication to their “cause,” and have skipped out on work and school to prove their “point.” In a time where women are denying their role in society by taking to the streets to protest for their “rights,” it’s clear that The Handmaid’s Tale is the ultimate guide for Republican lawmakers on how to put a stop to these baseless disturbances to our nation’s piety, and how to return to the God-given order.
From its most basic organization, we stand to learn a lot from the Republic of Gilead. Put in place after fertility rates among women sharply decline due to intense chemical pollution, Gilead’s handmaid system maximizes productive efficiency of their most valuable and rare national resource: fertile women. Today, chemical pollutants in our environment have been repeatedly linked to a general decrease in fertility, and lawmakers are reluctant to support environmental protection projects to reduce their effects. Atwood teaches us that our efforts are best spent capitalizing fertile uteruses, rather than funding expensive projects to help the planet – we can send all infertile women to clean up the toxic chemicals cost efficiently, for they are not valuable to society in their prescribed childbearing role.
In part due to rising levels of chemical pollutants, the global fertility rate has dropped from 4.45 children per women in 1970 to 2.453 in 2014. This increasingly alarming trend is seen the most in “more developed” countries (including the United States, Japan, and Denmark) which all have fertility rates below 2.1, the rate required for healthy replacement. Women in these countries have greater access to education, are more involved in their economies, and are let out of their homes far too often – by instating the handmaid system, thus removing these obstacles to motherhood, we can bring our fertility rates back up before chemical pollution drops them to a more dangerous level, as in Gilead.
Handmaids of Gileadean society are highly respected and coveted national resources, and the orchestrators of the system take drastic means to ensure their protection. Women walk together in pairs, pass numerous checkpoints when outside their Commander’s home, and are guarded carefully by male security agents for their absolute safety. Today, violence towards women is ‘the global problem of this century,’ with rising rape, sex trafficking, FGM, and domestic abuse rates. In the United States alone, approximately 1 in 5 women are raped on college campuses, and 1 in 3 women have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. By bringing the handmaid system to the United States, and thus the “freedom from” violence and abuse, we can protect our women and give them the respect they deserve for their service.
The Bible is the only available text in Gilead, locked away in a box to be opened only by Commanders (high ranking male officials) during prayer before impregnation ceremonies. All other reading materials have been removed – education and literacy are not necessary for women to have when performing their traditional childbearing role. However, all handmaids must pass through The Red Center, where they are taught the importance of their fertility, and how to properly serve their Commander before taking their posts. In our country today, education costs have risen dramatically while the value of a college degree is slowly declining. Across the world, some countries have already latched onto the idea of saving money through not educating girls; approximately 62 million girls worldwide between the ages of six and fifteen are not in school, and girls lag behind boys in secondary school completion rates. Girls who receive education are also less likely to have children, as seen in “more developed” countries. Clearly, by instating the handmaid system from The Republic of Gilead and ceasing all female education outside of Red Centers, we can save millions of dollars while still ensuring our women are best suited for childbirth and bringing up fertility rates.
In today’s world, instituting the handmaid system created by Margaret Atwood is the clear and logical solution to our most pertinent global problems. Though Atwood gives us a brilliantly created system modeled after real life, there are obvious kinks that need to be ironed out before we establish the system ourselves, namely a more intensive screening of Commanders, further segregation between women to prevent their banding together, and saying goodbye to places like Jezebel’s. We must look to The Handmaid’s Tale during this divisive time for the long term success of our nation, and for our children.
April 1st edition.