A College Town’s Worst Nightmare

The messages of “The Handmaid’s Tale” is a college student’s worst nightmare, which makes it all the more necessary that college students read and understand it’s arguments. Some may write it off as another dystopian novel, but Margaret Atwood crafted this novel based on the current socio-political arguments made in the 1980s.

 

Topics such as nuclear instability during the Cold War, abortion, women’s rights, and the United States’ patriarchal society are still extremely relevant today. Atwood discusses with the Huffington Post how progress is somehow deemed a linear idea. She also states that the novel is still very relevant today. We assume that we cannot move backwards, but to believe that is a naïve perception of the world. We can go backwards.

 

The year is 2020, and the city of Athens has become a ghost town. All of the bars have been closed down due to prohibition, and only the wealthy males who support the government now attend the University of Georgia. They are trained to become governmental officials, who will obtain wealthy wives, and live a life of comfort.

 

The only women are taken to the MLC, which would be renamed the ‘Red Center’. These women were chosen due their biology and class. Upper class women were excused from this practice, but the women in the Red Center would become Handmaid’s, birthing machines for upper-class families. They were taken from their families, their children, their education, from everything they held dear.

 

The devolvement of society began when an extremist group took over the government. They were legally elected by our people, who did not quite understand their agendas. These officials banned abortion, stripped money away from women and gave it to the men in their lives, they banned women from working, and they categorized them into different roles.

 

The wealthy women became wives to government officials. Second-class women became wives to future government officials. Then there were the handmaid’s who no longer have names but are given titles of the families they birth for: “Offred” translating to “Woman of Fred”.

 

Sex was no longer an act of pleasure, it was a ritual done for the purpose of creating life. Drinking was outlawed, and the only people allowed to live in luxury were those of the upper class.

 

However, there is a small place where the wealthy men go to enjoy themselves, it’s a small hotel called the Georgia Center. They are allowed to drink here, and enjoy the pleasures of the Jezebel’s, the last class of women whose jobs are to be prostitutes. They have created a society where only the wealthy men can live and enjoy life.

 

This is literally a college student’s worst nightmare. No access to education, no access to technology, no drinking, no sex, no liberties of any kind unless you were a wealthy male.  A man of little means is sent off to fight for this new society, or tasked with other jobs.

 

A democracy is only as strong as the people who participate in it. If our people are not educated and are unable to form knowledgeable opinions we will inevitably elect officials who could create this terrible dystopia.

 

Atwood’s ideas sound extreme, but she makes it clear that the novel’s dystopian society did not happen immediately, it happened over a course of time. However, in the book the government was shot down, and taken over by extremists, but that doesn’t necessarily have to happen. Government officials could legally change the laws to their benefit.

 

Already the states of Ohio and Texas are working to implement laws that prevent women from having abortions, regardless of whether women have birthing complications, have been raped, or other such atrocities. A woman’s choice has been undermined throughout history, but the decision of Roe v. Wade gave women somewhat of a choice on their bodies.

 

Women dressed as Handmaids protested in Ohio and Texas against these bills, displaying that to make these bills laws would be to strip the rights of women away. However, without knowledge of the book people would be unable to understand the significance of this protest.

 

Even the actors in the new Hulu television series are becoming more aware that the novel’s ideas are very much prevalent and possible in our society. Joseph Fiennes, the actor who places Commander Fred Waterford told the Huffington Post that the novel made him a bigger feminist.

 

The cast even sat down with NowThisPolitics to discuss how relevant the ideas behind the novel are today. They said that nothing that has happened in the novel, hasn’t happened before in the world, and how fragile society can be.  They mention how the novel creates a utopia for men, but an apocalypse for women, as the men create a society where only they can win, and women lose.

 

Let’s do our part as students and try to prevent this possible dystopia from happening. Every student should read “The Handmaid’s Tale”, because without understanding the enemy, we will never be able to defeat them. The novel outlines arguments, and ideas that created the society of Gilead, and creates a blueprint of what happens when we take away rights from women, give in to extremism, and allow the decisions of others to black out our voices.

 

As college students, this novel represents everything we do not want to happen, and in order to prevent that, we must understand Atwood’s message.

The Millennial Barrier

‘Millennial’, a miscellaneous term that has been used to describe a generation with a starting birth in the 1980s. This generation comes after Generation Y, X, and the Baby Boomers, two groups of individuals who identify more with their label than Millennials, which is ridiculous because the term Generation X is not common to most people.

 

Many Millennials are choosing to not identify with their given label because of the negative connotations that accompany the term. The term has become more of a way the older generations can degrade and criticize the younger one. Millennials receive backlash for their fashion trends, use of technology, socio-political movements, self-expression, and many other choices.

 

The fundamental problem with this logic is that despite having been born in the same generation, not every ‘Millennial’ shares common mannerism, personalities, and beliefs. Being born in the same generation can attribute to similar environmental features, with regards to the state of the country, but even that is a stretch.

 

The Millennial Generation markers are between 1982 and 2004, which shows that a person who is born in 1982 is twenty-two years older than a person born in 2004. This begs the question, how much do people who are twenty-two years apart have in common in terms of how they were raised?

 

This isn’t to say that people with a twenty-two year divide between them do not have things in common, but what they have in common has little to do with the label placed upon them, and has more to do with other aspects of life. A lot can change in twenty-two years, there were three different presidents from 1982 to 2004: Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. There were also various technological advances, and social developments.

 

Some parts of a generation may share common issues such as the state of the government, economy, and society but those are subject to change very quickly or slowly. A person in 1982 grew up in two recessions, while one born in 2004 just entered their first one.

 

All of these aspects of life affect how a person grows up, in addition to their local environment, family, and so many other factors. No two people are alike, and it is wrong to group people together just because they were born in the same year, much less the same generation. There are just too many aspects of life that affect a person’s growth for every ‘Millennial’ to be deemed sensitive, thankless, too into technology, and lazy.

 

Current college students were born into the Millennial generation, and many will continue to face prejudice and backlash for the year they were born, but this can be changed. It seems insignificant, but the label “Millennial” creates more of a divide between groups of people than it brings them together.

 

All generations should be working together to find common groups, and change the current issues we all face, such as terrorism, socio-economic inequality, the price of college, and the state of our country By trying to focus on the differences that divide us, we allow hinder our progress as a society, and create barriers that need not exist.