In Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel about a future where a Christian theocracy takes over the U.S. and renames it Gilead, women, who have become the property of men, are covered wrist to ankle in long flowing dresses and wear large blinders on the sides of their faces, called “wings.”
One does not need the study notes that abound on this novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, which has become a staple in the high school and college classroom. The symbolism is not very subtle, but Atwood has enjoyed widespread fame and financial success. Atwood’s novel still gets appreciative reviews and comments about its ‘prophetic’ message regarding the current U.S. administration from Amazon readers.
Yet, in 2006, cities in the U.S., Canada, and Europe are filled with women who are dressed in even more restrictive clothing than those in Atwood’s fictional land of Gilead. They are covered with yards and yards of black cloth. Some have only slits for their eyes. Some are literally hooded with screens to peer through. Many have been sexually mutilated through female “circumcision.”
And while in Atlanta a man is being tried for “circumcising” his two-year-old daughter with kitchen scissors, NOW and other feminist groups are silent.
But this is not surprising when you consider what the left really espouses.
Take a look through any left-leaning publication and see who is advertising to the readership. Ads for plastic surgeons, laser hair removal systems, and Botox treatments galore grace the pages of alternative weeklies and lifestyle magazines. Listen also to the “sponsors” of National Public Radio and you will hear announcements for plastic surgeons in those oh-so-sophisticated even tones.
One of the “rights” promoted by the left is the right to do with one’s body what one wishes. Among the ever increasingly popular tummy tucks and eyelid lifts are genital reconstructions for women, often for cosmetic reasons. A subset of feminist scholarship in the last couple decades has involved the analysis of how we supposedly “construct” “gender” (as opposed to being born male or female). As I did research for my dissertation I came across numerous articles on the freedom and empowerment represented by sex workers who choose to alter their bodies through numerous surgeries.
The idea of “choice” even in the arena of one’s body has paradoxically resulted in pain and mutilation of women’s bodies. All around us in the media is the pressure to undergo painful procedures of surgery and injections in order to look young.
So how does the leftist mantra of “choice” really impact women?
The Atwood-feminist contingent is stuck between pressures for female advocacy and cultural sensitivity. After all, it’s a cultural choice to circumcise females. It’s a cultural choice to submit one’s body to the knife in order to be sexually appealing to men.
Do you see the connection yet? Or do I have to remind you that that national pimp, Hugh Hefner, had much to do with women wanting to look like the unnaturally buxom naked women he features through his Playboy media outlets, and that he and men like him claim to be feminists, and that they support abortion rights organizations, and yet these “feminists” are silent on the oppression of Muslim women in our very midst. But the Hefner-NOW-NARAL complex has managed to twist women into doing their bidding, making themselves over through surgery, posing naked, and aborting their children—all the while convincing them that these are signs of their liberation. Among the reasons women give for undergoing cosmetic genital reconstructive surgery is the influence of pornography, which they watch with their partners. They can thank Hefner, Larry Flynt, and the A.C.L.U. that defends them.
The conservative Christians, those whom Margaret Atwood and her ilk excoriated, are the same people, by the way, who also raise their voices against pornography. And they are the ones daring to criticize the way Muslim women are being treated. They are not the ones calling for the surgical alteration of the female body. Nor do they ask women to hide their real faces, whether by veil or surgery.
But, given today’s climate of death threats against any negative artistic depiction of Islam, I doubt anyone would publish a novel that dares to present a future U.S. renamed Babylon, where women are covered by cloth and have their vision and mobility restricted by headgear.