The Handmaid’s Tale – Review by William Collins

And what a nasty tale it is.

I refer to the book by Margaret Atwood. I believe it is currently being serialised on TV, but I haven’t watched TV for many years now. This serves to remind me why not.

I spent the first half of The Handmaid’s Tale (THT) trying to work out what it was I was reading. Is it an allegory? Is it satire? But eventually it becomes clear that it is neither of those things. It is a paranoid fantasy. The exercise has been instructive. I previously regarded feminism as a religion and a mechanism for advancing self-interest. Now I regard feminism as a mental illness as well. And paranoia is one of its symptoms.

The burden of the plot is as follows. As is well known, and indisputable, men are interested in only one thing, namely fucking – consent optional. (Sorry for the language, but that’s the language used in the book). After a couple of decades of feminism, we men get pissed off with having our sexual desires frustrated. We really need to return to the halcyon days of total sexual control of women which we had enjoyed previously (apparently). So, obviously, we men conduct a military coup in order to implement said sexual hegemony forthwith across the whole nation. (In the book, the nation in question is the USA, but let’s not quibble). Oddly, once accomplished, this makes sex far harder to obtain. Access to desirable women is policed via a totalitarian crew of terrifying – and terrifyingly miserable – older women. So men’s actual access to sex is obliged to be via illicit sleaze clubs, and available only to the upper echelons of male society. Darn it – revolutions never work out right, do they?

That’s it, pretty much. Oh, and it seems that most women (and perhaps most men too) have become infertile – hence the Handmaids, who are the remaining fertile women and the subject of ritualised fucking in the least pleasurable threesome imaginable. It’s never really explained why people have become infertile, beyond a vague reference to “pollution” and “nuclear something-or-other”. (Whatever it was, it was men wot dun it, obviously).

One cannot ignore that THT comes with heavy feminist branding (notwithstanding Atwood’s rejection of the label). Presumably the feminists regard it as “true” in some novelistic sense – which I guess means serious, relevant, instructive. So one cannot merely dismiss THT as if it were of no more significance than some preposterously silly DC comic (though one would otherwise be inclined to). Why, I ask myself, has Emma Watson bought 100 copies of the book to leave randomly around Paris? Clearly the sisterhood regard the work as important, a must-read – a warning, perhaps? It is the fact that feminists take this nasty story so very seriously which is disturbing.

I have an inkling why this may be so. By the mid-1980s, when the book was written, feminists had produced a vast outpouring of ‘academic’ texts containing sentiments such as “all men are rapists”, “all heterosexual sex is rape”, “males need to be reduced to 10% of the population”, etc., etc. One could fill an old fashioned telephone directory with these appallingly sexist quotes. It is not surprising, then, that feminists were daily expecting a backlash. If you are aware of having so mistreated a group of people, a reprisal will indeed be expected. And you might well be fearful of what form that reprisal might take. THT is, I believe, a product of that fear of backlash. It is unlikely to be coincidence that THT is experiencing a resurgence now – in the wake of Mr Trump and the pussy hat marches.

That this fear is irrational is readily apparent. Another 30 years has passed since THT’s publication and the feminist denigration of all things male has only got worse. And yet despite this, and despite the litany of male disadvantages, men have reacted by doing…..absolutely nothing. And they never will. Tempted though I am to mansplain why, an exposition on the male psyche would take me too far from my purpose (but see this). Suffice it to say that it’s related to the old Homo sapiens’ pair-bonding thing. Call it gynocentrism, call it the empathy gap, call it male disposability. The more academically minded might call it the male genetic filter. I call it sucking up the crap. So, you see, men have done something after all. We’ve been crapped on, and we’ve sucked it up.

The idea that men would conspire together to perpetrate sexual dominance over women en masse betrays an ignorance of male nature so profound as to leave one speechless. And that’s exactly what men have been for the last half century: speechless. Since there is so little sign of patriarchy in our society, the deceitful misdirection of THT is to pretend that creation of an oppressive patriarchy could be just around the corner. For that is what the totalitarian society posited in THT actual is – a patriarchy. So the dramatic divergence of this monstrous society from any which has actually occurred in human history should illustrate to the reader that the patriarchal version of history is false. But feminist propaganda is proof against any degree of rational inconsistency. Irrespective of reality, it suffices to claim that this patriarchal nightmare is what men actually want if your objective is to stoke the fires of the feminists’ addictive paranoia.

As further evidence you need only look to the MGTOW fraternity. As the hard-line end of opinion on men’s issues, are the MGTOW plotting something along the lines of THT? Nope. Exactly the opposite. Their philosophy is avoidance, the very opposite of control. If women did indeed have anything to fear from a mass movement of men, it would not be anything like THT, it would simply consist of being ignored, MGTOW style. But even that will not happen on any significant scale. The urge to pair bond is too strong.

So what does the future actually hold? Ever deepening denigration and disadvantage of men and boys, with men displaying an ever increasing appetite to suck it up. Depressing, isn’t it? This is a social pathology which will do neither sex any good. Books like THT do not warn against social pathology, they encourage it.

Meanwhile, back in the real world…..just look at who is controlling whose fertility. Consider the monopoly possession of the uterus by one sex. Ah, that will be something I am not allowed to mention, because it betrays so starkly where the disadvantage lies. True, having a uterus was as much a liability as a blessing for women in the days before the pill. But since the pill, women have had an overwhelming biological advantage over men in the reproduction stakes. If our society were concerned with encouraging greater equity in reproduction it would ensure social and legal arrangements were in place to offset men’s disadvantage in this respect – bonding man and child together more strongly, not less. But instead we have done the opposite. Women’s natural advantage as regards children has been further amplified and reinforced by both the letter and the practice of the law and countless associated parental provisions. And whilst the pill created a contraceptive revolution for women, men have not shared in this liberation. Men have little control over their own fertility other than the hated condom.

It is a woman’s right to choose. We must never point out that this means a man has no right to choose. That would be misogyny. Millions of men in the UK alone have had no say in the destruction of an embryo which could have been their child. Their feelings on the matter are of no significance. And millions of men have been forced into paternity for a child they did not want. If you are inclined to say they should have kept their pants on, recall that the same sentiment applied to women would render abortion, and the morning after pill, illegal. You can only have it both ways if you accept that equality is a shameful fraud.

And even when a man may think he has a child, he may be mistaken. In 10% of cases the child a man believes is his, is not. Yet a man in the UK has no right to know if a child is his. Unless he has already, irrevocably, accepted paternal responsibility, a man cannot legally carry out a DNA test unless the mother agrees and is involved. And even if the child is biologically his, vast numbers of men become forcibly estranged from their children through no fault of theirs but by the actions of the state. The horror shows that are the family courts permit, indeed facilitate, a woman in using a child as a weapon against her ex and in securing custody.

So tell me – whose fertility is being controlled by whom, and who is really the Handmaid?


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