Book Club Slash Open Thread Extravaganza!

I feel like you can’t really type Extravaganza! without adding an exclamation point. It’s almost Friday! Let’s get the evening started with some bookishness, and some music for the OTers, shall we?

As you remember from last week, we’re reading Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale.  Don’t worry if you’re not finished yet, tonight we’re just going to be talking about how the book relates to current events and women’s issues.

*MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW* A Handmaid’s Tale takes place some time in the future, and most women on the planet are sterile.  Fertile women are arrested and forced to become handmaids, who serve as involuntary surrogates for the infertile wealthy women.  They’re given new names, and dressed in blood red robes that resemble nun habits.  Minor crimes or rule violations by the handmaids are punished swiftly and brutally, and when they aren’t placed with infertile families, they’re housed in large training barracks.

Atwood, wizened feminist that she is, was drawing a frightning future where women have no reproductive choices at all in the tradition of all dystopias, by presenting the worse case scenario for continued restrictions on women’s – especially poor women’s – choices.  So the question for tonight’s book clubbers is this: Present an argument either for or against the possibility of a future equivalent to the one Atwood describes.

And for the open threaders not looking to delve into nihilistic possibilities, here’s some They Might Be Giants.

 

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[E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

7 thoughts on “Book Club Slash Open Thread Extravaganza!”

  1. I just read an article on the Guardian about the criminalization of pregnant women. It was a really interesting (and obviously disturbing) look at how reproductive rights are being threatened in the courts. As someone living outside the US, I didn’t realise that this was happening and the dehumanization of the women involved in these cases definitely reminded me of A Handmaid’s Tale.

    If anyone else is interested here is the link – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/24/america-pregnant-women-murder-charges

  2. Fertility and infertility is such a hot button issue these days. It is also a huge burden to men and women everywhere. I’ve had friends and relatives struggle to conceive and have gone through years and years of IVF treatments and fertility meds, costing in the tens of thousands of dollars, only to end up still barren.
    While adoption would be the most obvious suggestion to couples in this situation, it is also quite expensive and never guaranteed. Many times the birth mothers change their minds after huge emotional and financial investments by the desiring couple.
    As a Gestational Surrogate I hear the comparison to this book all the time. People on the far Right say that it is unnatural and not “God’s way” for another woman to give birth to a child for an infertile couple. The Left say that it is degrading to women for them to sell their babies and their wombs.
    I think, as it is my womb to do with as I like, that surrogacy was an easy choice. My family is complete so my “proven womb” was going to waste. I can now help a couple, in my case a gay couple, complete their family with their own biological child.
    The process is handled so that, while I am compensated well for my part in the process, I do not feel as though they are buying my baby (especially because it is not my biological child). There are psych evaluations for all partied involved before the process is underway and we have constant communication through email and Skype as they live outside of the US. They are thankful to find someone willing to help them become fathers.
    Recently, Sarah Jessica Parker used a GS to carry twins for her. As more and more people become aware of how surrogacy really works I think that we will see many more couples turning to it as a way to have children but I don’t see it becoming a slave-like institution anytime soon.

  3. While I don’t know if the future will be as extreme as the one described in Handmaiden’s Tale, I do think that the book provides a very interesting commentary on what currently is happening in both the US and Canada, with the infringement upon women’s reproductive rights, not by the government always banning women’s choices, but simply by defunding organizations which provide women with any and all reproductive choice and care.

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