What I learned from the Handmaid’s Tale

What I learned from the Handmaid’s Tale

The thing is, I’m just really sad since watching it
I know it’s only a TV show, a story, but it’s not, not really
I don’t know what to say other than I feel feverishly shit
My only appeasement to huddle like the handmaids do
Together with all the women in the world so we can cry in chorus
Even though we don’t trust each other
Compete in whispers to trample through the funnel for air
I started watching the series The Handmaid’s Tale at 10pm one night
I was conscious of the time and school drop off in the morn
Being a single mum, can’t afford too many late nights
But as soon as I saw Offred and her forced foetal offering
Her world controlled by Gilead’s Christian fundamentalists
(not ISIS, that’s Islamic fundamentalists which is different)
Her screams swallowed and gagged on until nothing came out
I couldn’t move, my gaze super-glued to her plight
And I couldn’t leave her alone trapped inside the TV
To be fucked between the Father and the Mother and the Holy Fucking Spirit
So I made the decision to stay up all night until I saved her
In the morn I woke exhausted having had no sleep and failed my mission
I told myself it was just a story by my favourite writer and poet, Margaret Atwood
I hadn’t read the book yet, and I was cursing myself that I should have by now
Margaret wrote her story in the 80s
But is it really a story or a terrifying premonition?
Sometimes fiction is just a stone’s throw away from fact
Or maybe a rendition of something we pretend isn’t happening
Thirty years later it seems the same issues are lingering
Except feminism and capitalism have morphed into some deformed monster
Or maybe that has always been the case
Margaret’s tale had me thinking back to my first poetry class
How I asked my teacher about rules and she told me there are none
I didn’t consider her a feminist as she was old and grey
But I guess she was because she showed me pages of writing by feminists
It was Margaret’s and Sylvia’s and Patti’s poetry that resurrected me
Their words had me question the cultural, sexual and religious repression
I had inherited like a birth right spawned from patriarchy
Never had I considered I had choices
I married when I was only a baby
So in poetry class I took to the notebook with bound hands
Wrote till blood soaked my clothes and I was considered mad
Sex poetry came out of me until I was labelled a slut
I like to be fucked so to men and the literati I made sense
I fought so hard to be free even my tears became blood
Wiped with the tissues of women I had never met wanting to be my friend
But I didn’t realise till I watched the last episode of The Handmaid’s Tale
Which was seven years after my emancipation
That my hands are still bound
Bashed, shoved, murdered, controlled, fucked in every way possible
I still exist under the foot of a man
The palace of patriarchy still reigns
Did anyone actually ever ask us
If we actually want to fulfil our biological destinies
Under His fucking Eye?
Margaret’s metaphor opens us up to consider
Gilead could happen even today
All that’s needed is some crazy man
With sexist, religious, racist beliefs
That has access to chemical warfare and bombs
To execute a Handmaid’s order
And suddenly Gilead is just a stone’s throw away from now
However, what I learned from the Handmaid’s Tale
Apart from how fucked the world was for Margaret
That she resorted to write such a disturbing and traumatising tale
Is how fucked the world still is today
But despite this, even in the most repressive circumstances
Where speaking up is punishable by death
The controlling power will push forbidden and wicked ways underground
But human nature is to fight even silently, to rise
And I learned that the resilience of women
The gender that bares the world in her womb then births it
Bleeds her dirty sin though her uterus and out of her vagina
Will find a slow, but gradual way, to an almost freedom
I also learned that Canada is the best country in the world
Even in the land of fiction, in the past and in the now
Especially when it comes to treating refugees
And every other country is pretty shit
It probably came as a shock of course
When white people were watching The Handmaid’s Tale
That the refugees where westerners (unlike today)
So they were probably relieved when Canada handed them
A phone card, money, clothes, food etc
Rather than a big fuck off and go back to where you came from
I don’t know how Margaret came up with this story
But it had me crying like a scared child
Longing to slash my wrists in the bathtub

This was first published in Tuck Magazine

2017-10-20T12:07:46+00:00 October 20th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments