Posted by: Mike P. | February 25, 2010

Handmaids in Utah?


I recently read The Handmaid’s Tail, a very interesting story that shows a possible world where women become subjugated primarily because of their ability to reproduce, and the bible, or at least some perverted form of it, becomes the source of the rules that govern this society.  This book was written in 1985 when the basic plot-line could have happened.  Fortunately, I believe our control of the environment has progressed to the point where large numbers of women becoming sterile and the dimming of the future of humanity, or at least some western countries, is not too likely.

But, one should never doubt our ability to create a society similar to that portrayed in the book, but for different reasons.  At this time, we seem to be missing the cataclysmic event that pushes society into an insane path.  While we recently suffered an economic collapse, it has not yet spread to the point that Germany suffered prior to WW-II, for instance.  But, the knobs are turned up, and people primed.  Why do legislators spend their time making such terrible laws?  What pushes them to do it?  Why would a woman in the Utah legislature vote for such a law?

I guess in the end, this is no different from the hatred and misunderstanding that convinced so many from Utah to become involved in the prop 8 vote in California.  A desire to impose a rule of law on society that fits with their narrow world view and leaves them as the anointed ones?

The Handmaid’s Tale was a really well written book. I particularly enjoyed how she was able to leave large holes in the story, concentrate on the essence of the story, and then fill in just enough to satisfy those nagging but what happened in the end sort of questions we all want answered when reading a story or watching a film. But, the answers really are not important to the ideas being conveyed; they are just there to make us feel better, and they show just how clever Margaret Atwood can be.

The similarities between the proposed law in Utah and the basic precepts in Atwood’s book bear some striking similarities.  Somehow, I suspect I will find many such similarities until we are finally rid of idea that the bible is the word of God, that we are a Christian Nation, or that we can derive moral behavior from any ancient text, apply it to modern society and codify such morals into law.

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