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Meet the man who mansplained The Handmaid’s Tale … to Margaret Atwood

Elisabeth Moss in The Handmaid’s Tale

By David Futrelle

With the right slowly but surely winning its war on the right to abortion, in both legal and practical terms, you might expect Margaret Atwood — you know, the author of the Handmaid’s Tale, the dystopian novel about an oppressively patriarchal state that’s been turned into a really very depressing Hulu series — to be feeling more than a little angry about the state of women’s rights in the US today.

And you’d be right. Indeed, last week she retweeted a Guardian piece comparing Alabama to her novel’s Republic of Gilead.

But not everyone thought it was such an apt comparison, including one fellow who took to Twitter to tell her that she seemed to be missing the point of … the show based on her book, for which she is also a consulting producer.

https://twitter.com/Modbrat/status/1146018670520365056

Yeah, dude, I think I’m going to go with her interpretation on this one.

But he’s already heard that, well, roughly 250 times already; indeed, apparently happy at all the attention, he’s happily retweeting the various Twitterers who’ve stepped up to call him out as the idiot he is.

Which raises the question: is he “just trolling?” He might be trolling, but not “just.” A look through Mr. Modbrat’s tweets reveal him to be a seemingly sincere right-wing Australian and a big fan of failed-comedian turned alt-lite interviewer Dave Rubin.

So whatever his intent with the tweet, he’s definitely a huge idiot.

H/T — Comic Sands

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Katamount
Katamount
2 years ago

I got retweeted by Margaret Atwood once comparing Mike Pence and Ted Cruz to Commanders during the 2016 election. Yeee, I brushed against greatness!

It’s rather startling to think that it’s been 15 years since I first read the book in high school. At the time, I thought it reflected shades of the culture war heating up during the decline of the Bush years, but was otherwise an extreme interpretation. A decade and a half later, those culture wars have been supercharged under Trump.

Then again, I thought Oryx and Crake was an extreme interpretation of internet-based nihilism and corporate ennui, but then GamerGate happened. Basically, I need to start interpreting speculative fiction authors as Cassandras, Atwood in particular.

Kevin
Kevin
2 years ago

@ Katamout

Er perhaps a different prophetess, as I understood it Cassandra was cursed to be totally accurate – but never believed.

Katamount
Katamount
2 years ago

@Kevin

Believed Cassandras then…? *shrugged* I’m a little rusty on my classical prophetesses.

Moggie
Moggie
2 years ago

“Death of the author”, you say? I always like an excuse to link to Lindsay Ellis:

numerobis
numerobis
2 years ago

Buttercup: the same people arguing they aren’t concentration camps argued waterboarding, putting people in tiny cages so they couldn’t stand nor sit, and other practices literally taken out handbooks based on Stalin’s torture practices — weren’t torture because … and it’s overwrought to call it torture.

They invariably raise semantic arguments to distract from the issue. It’s what abusers do.

numerobis
numerobis
2 years ago

Katamount: I believe the term you’re looking for is oracles. They would give predictions just cryptic enough that people read whatever they wanted in them.

Jurgan
2 years ago

@Big Titty Demon:

Better written. I read the novel and found it a slog. Just my personal opinion on that one. On a more substantive level, I’ve heard people complain that fears of “what if someday we can’t control our reproduction” ring hollow to non-white women who’ve dealt with that very thing for generations. Ultimately, though, I just kind of feel it’s a cliche to compare every anti-woman measure to HT in the same way it’s a cliche to compare every surveillance program to 1984. Orwell said in Politics and the English Language that ready-made cliches can cause shallow political thinking, but I’m not going to pretend my reaction is that rational. I didn’t much care for the book, so it’s more of an emotional response that I get tired of people talking about it all the time.

@vaiyt:

Of course your interpretation has to be supported. I never said otherwise. But it bugs me when people act as though the author saying “this is the correct way to read it” instantly wins the argument. Granted, Twitter isn’t really the best place for detailed discussions, and I doubt this person has a very good explanation. But if someone did give a detailed explanation of how our world compares to this dystopia, Atwood can’t simply say “nope, I wrote it and I say you’re wrong.”

QuantumInc
QuantumInc
2 years ago

I think Incels would claim that we already live in the Republic of Gilead. Their core belief seems to be that women are inevitably attracted to “Chad,” and thus ignore the Incels. If anything they would claim that feminists want to Republic of Gilead, as it formalizes what they see as female desire. Like the “Redpill” crowd they claim that what women really want is to submit to the “Alpha-Male” AKA “Chad” AKA “Commander”. Obviously 99% of women say otherwise, but conveniently they claim that women don’t know what they want. Regardless of what she says, or is thinking on a conscious level, her instincts will inevitably lead her to Chad. This is about as realistic as believing that the Earth is flat, but there are a lot of people who believe the Earth is flat nowadays.

Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
2 years ago

Death of the author: the literary version of “intent is not magic”.

Allandrel
Allandrel
2 years ago

My favorite thing about Death of the Author is my certainty that if Barthes saw how people interpret his essay, he would say “That’s not what I meant at all.”

Prith kDar
Prith kDar
2 years ago

Ms. Magazine ran a short story in the October 1982 issue called “Prima Gravida: a not-so-far-out fantasy of reproductive tyranny” by Diane Sautter and Steven Feinberg. It’s not the best-written story I’ve ever read, but pretty much everything in it is, if not reality now, could be, since the technology now does exist, and the legal framework is all but entirely in place for it in some parts of the country.

I found it online a few years ago and saved the pages, but I can’t find it now. Maybe someone with better google-fu skills than I can dig it up.

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