This is a pretty good example of something I tried to teach my daughters: the difference between a feminist (which their father is) and an American feminist (which he is not).
From Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt:
We heard a bit of “We’re turning into The Handmaid’s Tale!” panic-hysteria-accusation during the Bush administration, too. I’ll dust off my argument from then: To picture a near-future United States that is a Christian theocracy with open, systematic, and brutal oppression of women, you have to picture some unbelievable changes occurring very quickly: repealing women’s right to vote; a re-acceptance of slavery; widespread Christian acceptance of government-mandated extramarital sexual intercourse; total repeal of the First Amendment; total bans on any other religious beliefs (there are references to “Baptist rebels”). Perhaps most absurdly, almost all men have accepted a regime where the only sexual outlet of any kind is government-monitored breeding with the fertile “handmaids,” reserved for the most powerful.
Do you picture lots of American men signing on for a system that denies them the freedom to have sex with women? You really have to have your “all men have fascist impulses just under their skin” blinders on to hear that and nod, “Oh, yeah, that could totally happen.”
But Margaret Atwood could have set her tale in other places and made it practically a modern-day documentary: say, Saudi Arabia. Or any corner of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan…
Horrific, brutal regimes that systematically deny basic rights to women and girls based upon religious beliefs are not hard to find. They’re just rarely Christian. … The world has plenty of awful places that can be fairly compared to Atwood’s fictional dystopian regime of Gilead. They’re just mostly Muslim.
But Margaret Atwood wasn’t angry at Islamists back in 1985. She was angry at the trends she saw in the United States, and in particular, American Christian conservatives. Both then and now, American Christian conservatives are a very safe target for criticism and mockery. No priest or nun is going to strap on a suicide bomber’s vest and blow up the offices of Atwood’s publisher or Hulu, which is making the miniseries.
Thus you periodically hear some not-so-quiet scoffing at the priorities of Western feminists. They’re upset about how far some American women have to travel to an abortion clinic, while the world has plenty of girls who risk being scarred with acid for trying to go to school.