A Handmaid’s Tale

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

February 19, 2011

Levi cleaning the pie-making table.

Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

We are (wo)men. (Or Womyn if you prefer). Women and men. We are human. We are not God, god, or gods. We are imperfect. We make mistakes. We lose things. We forget things. We unintentionally (sometimes intentionally) hurt people. We crash things. We break things. We take too much money. We shortchange ourselves. We underestimate our time. We overestimate costs and pass that onto others. We are imperfect. All of us.

I have had more than one boss that seemed to expect perfection. And, they, least of anyone, certainly never made mistakes. Other people were chided for not “knowing better” because they should have. Thankfully, I recall my parents being fairly understanding in life, although on a few occasions my siblings and I certainly heard that from my mother or step-father (You should have known better!).

This recent push to weaken abortion, make domestic violence okay, take away care for people with no money, and generally undermine our society even more makes me think about a book by Margaret Atwood, A Handmaid’s Tale. I eluded to this book in my rant, Subordination and Created Equal.

I used to believe we were innately good, as people. I hope we have enough goodness in ourselves to make the world a better place – but I think really we are innately selfish. I think it takes more environment than intuitiveness to groom ourselves to be good people who exhibit kindness, compassion, foresight, and vision. For me, this is a sad realization that solidified watching my son grow. I don’t think he intends to harm people, but he doesn’t instinctively share – for example. When he plays, he likes to knock blocks down, and playmates of the same age, younger or older, all despise this trait because they worked so hard to build their block tower so high. It’s not good or bad, what Levi is doing. It just is. He is looking out for himself, he is playing selfishly. That’s okay, but it’s my job, as his mother, to teach him about a broader world.

These recent digs at our well-being make me think the folks pushing this didn’t have the same kind of mothering. (Or maybe they did, but mom did something where they interpreted badly and now resent that kind of  socialist thinking.) Here are a few compiled by MoveOn.org:

  1. Republicans not only want to reduce women’s access to abortion care, they’re actually trying to redefine rape. After a major backlash, they promised to stop. But they haven’t yet. Shocker.
  2. A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to “accuser.” But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain “victims.”
  3. In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care. (Yep, for real.)
  4. Republicans want to cut nearly a billion dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids.
  5. In Congress, Republicans have a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life.


This is a top five of ten. What happened in A Handmaid’s Tale that is so reminiscent?

  • The Bible was used to support decisions to allow handmaidens to birth couples children.
  • Rights were slowly taken away from women, banking on people not paying attention, where library cards, jobs, and the ability to smoke cigarettes was removed.

David Hume has said, “Liberty of any kind is never lost all at once.” We become complacent. We get the logic of one thing while abhorring the logic of another, yet allow it in maybe the name of safety and security.

The world is a big, bad scary place. Yes, we give rules to our children, but a rite of passage occurs between 16 and 21 where we are old enough to make our own decisions. The more we abdicate to the state, the less we have to do for ourselves. The irony of this eroding away at rights for women is the idea many of the same people pushing this agenda have that the Left instates too much of a nanny system.

I do not like Nanny States. I think it’s another method of control with a socialist twist. The challenge is to allow and support these Left agendas without creating a Nanny state, empowering people, and honoring choice.

Maybe that’s just too scary for those in charge. The alternative, for me, though is the scary part. I don’t want Levi to partake in a world like A Handmaid’s Tale. And that’s not the world I want to be a part of.

We have an imperfect government because we are imperfect. Together, though, we have a lot of smarts, intelligence, creativity. Together, we can create a more perfect union that embraces differences, choices, and rights of all. I want to be a part of that world.

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