During the International Women’s Day strike, Margaret Atwood was working hard to share her thoughts about feminism.
To promote Hulu’s imminent release of The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood participated in a Reddit AMA on Wednesday that was sprinkled with some very funny and scary observations about feminism and our current descent into dystopia. The good news is, she doesn’t seem to have given up hope—though she does recommend women take self defense classes. In response to a question about feminism has changed since she was a young woman, Atwood self-deprecatingly wrote:
I am so shrieking old that my formative years (the ‘40s and ‘50s) took place before 2nd wave late-’60s feminist/women’s movement. But since I grew up largely in the backwoods and had strong female relatives and parents who read a lot and never told me I couldn’t do such and such because of being a girl, I avoided the agit-prop of the ‘50s that said women should be in bungalows with washing machines to make room for men coming back from the war. So I was always just very puzzled by some of the stuff said and done by/around women. I was probably a danger to myself and others!
She adds that we are now “seeing a lot of pushback against women, and also a lot of women pushing back in their turn” and is especially shocked by the war on women’s health. “Childbirth care, pre-natal care, early childhood care—many people will not even be able to afford any of it,” Atwood wrote. “Dead bodies on the floor will result. It is frightful. Then there is the whole issue of sexual violence being used as control—it is such an old motif.”
She recommended young women take Wen-Do, saying she experimented with Judo during the days of the Boston Strangler, though she said the self-defense they taught women was too “lady-like” at the time. While doing her AMA, photos from Atwood’s collection were being shared on the TV series’ Instagram account, like this one of her beginning to work on a novel that would become required high school reading (and possibly the future):
When asked, “How does it feel knowing America is basically on the road to becoming Gilead?” Atwood responded with something a bit more hopeful than you might expect.
“I cannot tell you how strange this feels. I wrote the book hoping to fend it off, and I believe it will be fended off: America is very diverse, a lot of people have been jolted out of political slumber and are paying attention, and the Constitution still stands,” she said.
“Support your leaders who are standing against unconstitutional laws,” Atwood continued. “Keep informed, as best as possible. Everything is ‘as best as possible’ right now.”